A good war film needs heroes. But Vietnam had no heroes in the eyes of most Americans. Even a reasonably well-made and well-acted earnest effort like Go Tell The Spartans, set in 1964 when the US involvement was limited to ‘military advisors’, can’t overcome that disadvantage.
Based on Daniel Ford’s novel, Incident at Muc Wa, Wendell Mayes’ script follows a detachment of Americans and Vietnamese mercenaries as they occupy an outpost abandoned by the French a decade ago. Burt Lancaster is the commander of an advisory group at Penang who must order the raw detachment into the jungle. When the Vietcong move in on the soldiers, Lancaster arranges for their evacuation.
Lancaster leads a mostly untried cast, including Marc Singer as his assistant, Jonathan Goldsmith playing a burned-out veteran, Joe Unger as a naive over-zealous lieutenant on his first mission and Evan Kim as the tough leader of the Vietnam mercenaries. All turn in fine performances.