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Jane Fonda and John Wayne: Two Sides of the Vietnam Coin

Politics and Patriotism doesn't always mix. Especially if Vietnam was involved.

John Wayne represented the old guard of Hollywood and was Conservative in his politics. Jane Fonda represented the new wave of youthful Hollywood activists and was Progressive in her politics. There was nothing wrong with either position then or now. What neither knew was they would represent the two sides of a Foreign war. A war which eventually caused both Hollywood and the United States to change their thinking and direction.

Prologue

It started with a seemingly strange phenomena that occurred on September 3, 1945 the day after the Japanese formally signed a Peace Treaty ending World War 2. Overnight our World War 2 allies Russia, Mainland China and North Vietnam, became the enemies of the United States of America. The "Cold War" had begun and America was at war with Communism.

Why this literal overnight change? America didn't need these countries to fight Germany and Japan anymore and Communism returned as the enemy of  Democracy and a Free World. Politics!

During the Second World War President Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated he would block the return of France to Indochina, because of their colonial policies. Unfortunately FDR died and could not carry out his program for Southeast Asia.

After the war in 1946 Indochina Ho Chi Minh asked American President Harry Truman to mediate between his declared "Democratic Republic of Vietnam" and France. Ho feared the French were moving back into Vietnam to restore French Indochina. He reminded the American President of his contribution to stopping Japanese aggression during the late World War. Truman refused to mediate, because Ho Chi Minh was a Communist and his Government was also. Politics!

It should be noted that the first Anti-Vietnam War protest did not occur from 1960's "Hippies", but American Merchant Marine Sailors in 1945. They attempted to stop American non-military shipping from  ferrying French Troops back into Vietnam. Harry Truman was well aware of this when he received Ho Chi Minh's plea for assistance.

The picture below was taken during the Second World War in Indochina. The man in the white shirt with the slight bear standing between the two American "Office of Strategic Service (OSS)" Officers on the left is Ho Chi Minh. Our friend and ally at the time this photo was taken.

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As a result of Truman's refusal to mediate the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army moved upon the French and drove them out of Vietnam. The French had asked Truman and Churchill for help against Ho Chi Minh and were refused, because both Heads of State felt the French Army had put themselves into a with no way out situation. Actually neither the United States, or England wanted to get involved in Indochina.

As a result of the two leaders refusal to assist France. North Vietnam will be recognized by the Soviet Union and Communist China. Politics!

When Dwight David Eisenhower became President he learned that if an election was held in Vietnam the first week he took office. According to the new "Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)" that during World War 2 was the "Office of Strategic Services (OSS)". 80 percent of the total Vietnamese population would vote Ho Chi Minh their President and leader in a free election.

The Eisenhower administration makes the decision to increase support to Ngo Dinh Diem, in the South, with more "Advisers (CIA and Military Intelligence Officers) to train his troops. The President will not send in Ground Troops.

When President Kennedy came into office. He agreed with the policies of  the three previous President's and would not commit to sending Ground Troops into Southeast Asia, but would send military supplies.

On November 2, 1963 JFK was "Shocked" to learn from Army General  Maxwell Taylor that his American "Advisers" in Vietnam sanctioned the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem. Twenty days later President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas and Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson became Commander and Chief. A rumor still exists that on President Kennedy's desk President Johnson found an Executive Order for the total withdrawal of Americans from Southeast Asia awaiting JFK's signature.

This is the background for our major Military involvement in the Vietnam War between the North and the South. In March 1965 under direct order from President Johnson 3,500 Marines were sent to Vietnam and by December the amount of Marine Combat Troops had reached 200,000. President Johnson had changed America's mission from training to all out war.

The reason his administration gave American's for sending Group Troops into Vietnam was that the United States, as during World War 2 and Korea, was defending Democracy and preventing something called "The Domino Theory" from occurring. You know when you set up domino's close to each other and push the first one and they all fall down one after the other. In President Johnson's mind and some of his advisers Vietnam was that first domino. Politics!

John Wayne

He was born May 26, 1907 as Marion Robert Morrison on his birth certificate, but his parents changed his middle name to Mitchell later. By 1930 he had appeared in some silent films including one where he just played the body of a murder victim and had uncredited screen roles in some early talkies. On November 1, 1930 his name would be on the movie theater marquee as the star of a Western directed by Raul Walsh. However, as of that Western "The Big Trail" his name would forever be John Wayne

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During and right after World War 2 John Wayne portrayed the American military man in patriotic motion pictures beginning with 1944's "The Fighting Seabees". That feature film would be followed by two more in 1945 "Back to Bataan" and "They Were Expendable". The last directed by his mentor John Ford. After the war Wayne portrayed his Oscar nominated role of Marine Sgt. John M. Stryker in 1949's "The Sands of Iwo Jima".

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Additionally the actor starred in two more World War 2 military drama's both in 1951 "Operation Pacific" and "The Flying Leathernecks".

To the American public John Wayne represented and would continue to represent the image of America's military sons and heroes. To be fair to the man I have to tell two versions of the same story. The first comes from director John Ford. Who was an active Commander in the United States Navy and would become an Admiral in the Reserves.

According to John Wayne's mentor. The actor used his acting status to avoid enlisting in the military. Ford would remain upset with his protege, because unlike Jimmy Stewart, Robert Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan, Henry Fonda and Clark Gable among others Wayne stayed home to make war movies and tour military bases.

John Ford among other things photographed the Japanese attack on Midway Island. He lost hold of his hand held motion picture camera during the air attack, which is seen in his film about Midway, and picked it up to continue filming the Japanese . This animosity remained throughout Ford's life and would come to the surface every so often when the two friends met.

The other side of this story came 37 years after John Wayne's death. According to Wayne's family he kept writing letters to John Ford to become part of his Photo Intelligence unit, but had been told by Republic Studio's that if he enlisted. The studio would sue him for breach of contract. So the actor had no choice but to remain out of the actual fighting war. According to Wayne's loving wife Pillar Pallete:
He would become a "superpatriot" for the rest of his life for staying home.
Also according to John Wayne's family he felt guilty about not enlisting and it was always on his mind up until his death.

In 1938 "The House Committee on Un-American Activities" was created for the purpose of investigating "alleged", important word as it meant not necessary proven, disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of  Private American Citizens, Public Employees and any Organization "suspected", another interesting word, of having Communist ties.

During 1944 an organization called the "Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals" was formed. The very Conservative "Alliance's" stated mission was to defend the Motion Picture Industry and the Country against Communist and Fascist infiltration.

From a strictly historical perspective looking at both the "House Committee on Un-American Activities" and the  "Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals" during the Second World War. There had to be a conflict of interest as the Communist Party no matter it's source was our stated ally during that period and loyal American's joined it. At the time a lot of Americans truly believed by joining the Communist Party they were doing something "Patriotic". Of course the Second World War did not stop the compiling of lists for use when it was finally over. Which included some of those loyal Americans who joined the Communist Party over patriotism.

In 1947 the "House Committee on Un-American Activities" began it's work a new and looked at the Motion Picture Industry. From  March 1949 through June 1953 serving four one year terms as President of the "Motion Picture Alliance" was actor John Wayne. He would testify and name names of  "alleged" and "suspected" members of the Communist Party.

The Hollywood Studio's started policing themselves and "Black Listing" began, if your name appeared on the list you career was through. For a look at one man's "Black Listing" and "The House Committee on Un-American Activities" impact on motion pictures. Please read my article:

"Guy Endore: Communism in the Motion Picture Industry" at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/12/guy-endore-communism-in-motion-picture.html

For fans of horror movies Guy Endore wrote the screenplays for "Mark of the Vampire", "Mad Love", 1935's "The Raven" and Hammer Films "The Curse of the Werewolf". He was also a historical novelist.

August 30, 1952 saw John Wayne and his close friend actor James Arness starring in "Big Jim McLain". The two actors played investigators for the "House Committee on Un-American Activities" sent to Hawaii to track down a Communist cell.


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Playing Conservative Republican John Wayne's wife was Liberal Democratic Nancy Olson. Olson told interviewers of the long political discussions the two would have and said she always let Wayne have the last word. Nancy Olson didn't think the movie would do well and as far as it's initial theatrical run she was right. However, the movie developed a cult following after many showings on television and Olson always said filming "Big Jim McLain" was a great way to get a free trip to Hawaii.

The Communist Cell story line was dropped for European release. The film was renamed "Marijuana", because of European views on American politics and communism. Wayne and Arness were now after a group of Marijuana smugglers.

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Declassified Soviet Union documents reveal that although he was a fan of John Wayne, Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin had contemplated the assassination of the actor around the time "Big Jim McLain" was released, because of Wayne's stanch anti-Communist position.

In October of 1955 at the Dome Theater in Ocean Park, California 8 year old Lloyd saw one of my favorite John Wayne movies. The film  was "Blood Alley" and it co-starred Lauren Bacall and was directed by William "Wild Bill" Wellman.

"Blood Alley" was an old fashion flag waving anti-Communist motion picture. The story has a small mainland Chinese Village learning that an American China Sea Skipper, played by John Wayne, is in prison. Through bribes they arrange his escape and present him with their plan. They want Wayne to take the entire 180 person Village with pigs, chickens and even their honored dead down "Blood Alley" to Hong Kong and freedom. The film is full of chases by Mao's navy and love, "Hey Baby", between Bacall and Wayne. The anti-Communist point is made with fun and flair as compared to the semi-documentary style and slow paced "Big Jim McLain".

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Then there was Howard Hughes's "Jet Pilot". The film was designed to be an anti-Communist picture with a lot of flying action like in Hughes successful "Hell's Angles" from 1930. Which had starred 19 year old Jean Harlow. Playing a Communist flyer in "Jet Pilot" who apparently defects was Janet Leigh. When the initial filming began Leigh was 22 years old, but when shooting finished she was 25.

As an explanation for Leigh's age change. The filming started with director Joseph von Sternberg in 1949, he left and was replaced in order by screenplay writer Jules Furtherman, second unit director Philip Cochran, his assistant Ed Killy, model designer/special effects technician Bryon Haskins and even unknown Don Siegel. All of Siegel's scenes were never used. Filming finished in 1953, but Howard Hughes started editing and changing things and in the end the movie was shelved by RKO. When "Jet Pilot" finally was released Howard Hughes no longer owned the studio. The year was 1957 and the picture was released on September 25th by Universal Pictures. All the aircraft seen were now obsolete and Janet Lee's fashions out dated.

The actual story tells of a Russian defector who is in reality a spy. She lands at an Air Force base in an aircraft the American's wanted to get a closer look at and is arrested. John Wayne's Col. Jim Shannon is assigned to watch the young women and they of course fall in love causing political complications.

What also didn't help the release of "Jet Pilot" was that there had been previous straight comedies about a Communist Russian women meeting a American male. Actually these started with 1939's "Ninotchka" starring Greta Garbo. That story was turned into a Broadway musical and then filmed as "Silk Stockings" starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse released three months before "Jet Pilot". Just the previous year, in 1956, saw the release of "The Iron Petticoat" starring Bob Hope and Kathryn Hepburn. Hepburn played a Russian Military Pilot who lands at an American base in West Germany. Bob Hope's Air Force Captain is assigned to teach Hepburn everything American and turn her. Almost the exact same story as the John Wayne picture.

Note on the poster the tag line: "SO BIG! It took years to make" to cover up all the problems on the production.

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Twelve years previous to "Jet Pilot" on August 25, 1945 a Missionary, who was also a Captain in the United States Army, was leading a group consisting of eleven Americans, some Chinese Nationalists and Koreans on an Intelligence gathering mission near Xuzhou, China. They were attacked by Communist Chinese troops and he was killed. His name was John Birch.

In 1958 Conservative Anti-Communist American Businessman Robert W. Welch,Jr. formed a group using the Captain's name known as "The John Birch Society". This group would become a strong lobbing power from 1958 forward. The group's purpose as their literature stated was as a Conservative adversary group supporting anti-Communism and limited Federal Government. Their bookstores  were all over and at one time at the Southern California tourist attraction "Knott's Berry Farm". John Wayne was a member of "The John Birch Society" for a period of time.

In a 1971 "Playboy Magazine" interview John Wayne made a statement that was extremely controversial, but expressed his Conservative views:

"I believe in white supremacy, until the blacks are educated to the point of responsibility. I don't believe giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people---I don't feel we did wrong in taking away this great country from  (the Native Americans)---Our so-called stealing of this country from  them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves".

The above quote was referenced in Ronald L. Davis' work "Duke: the Life and Image of John Wayne" and Anatol Lieven's "America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism".

In 1960 John Wayne supported Richard Nixon for President, but when John F. Kennedy won. He supported Kennedy as his duly elected President. Also in 1960 saw the release of a very personal motion picture John Wayne's "The Alamo".

The movie told the story with a bit of a Conservative Political slant. I loved it when I first saw it in the Los Angeles original Roadshow engagement at the Carthay Circle Theater. That political slant comes out very clearly, but was lost on a newly turned 14 year old boy, in the scene when Davy Crockett, Wayne, speaks to Col. Travis, Lawrence Harvey, about what the word "Republic" means.

John Wayne was nominated for his Second Academy Award not as an actor, but the Producer of "The Alamo". As before he did not win.

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In 1966 John Wayne campaigned for his friend Ronald Reagan for the Governorship of the State of California.

During the 1960's John Wayne traveled to the Republic of Panama many times and fell in love with the country. He would purchase the "Isla Taborcillo" which became known as "John Wayne Island" located 25 miles off the coast of Panama. This purchase may have had a bearing on Wayne's support for a 1977 Treaty between Democratic President Jimmy Carter and General Omar Torrijos of Panama.



JANE FONDA

She was born 30 years 7 months after John Wayne on December 21, 1937. Her name is Jayne Seymour Fonda, but she is known as Jane Fonda. She is the daughter of actor Henry Fonda who was as Progressive a Democrat as John Wayne, who once was of that party, was now a Conservative Republican.



In 1956 Jane Fonda dropped out of Vassar and went to Paris, France for two years to study art. She returned in 1958 and met the Actor Studio's founder Lee Strasberg. This meeting had a major impact on her future. Fonda had appeared in a play for charity with her father in Omaha, Nebraska back in 1954, but was really not sure that she wanted that career for her life. This meeting with Strasberg caused the young women to focus in that direction.

22 year old Jane Fonda made her Broadway debut at the Cort Theater on February 29, 1960 in the play "There Was a Little Girl". She would receive a Tony Award Nomination for her role. Two months later Fonda's first motion picture, based upon a 1959 Broadway Play,  "Tall Story" was released on April 6, 1960. The premise of the play and film was based upon a phenomena actually happening at the time in the United States. Young women were entering college not for an education, but to find "the Perfect Husband".

Jane Fonda co-starred with Anthony Perkins in a tale about a young women who goes to a college to find that "Perfect Husband". For Fonda's "June Ryder" it is basketball star "Ray Blent" played by Anthony Perkins. However, Ray gets involved with a local crime syndicate that wants him to throw a big game. The picture was a typical 1950's and early 1960's Romantic comedy. Of note Perkins would be scene in June as "Norman Bates" definitely not a romantic comedy character.

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"Tall Story" would be followed in 1961 by a made for TV movie based upon a story by William Somerset Maugham called "String of Beads". Jane Fonda would next be seen playing a prostitute in Depression Era New Orleans. The 1962 motion picture co-starred Barbara Stanwyck,  Lawrence Harvey and French actress Capucine and was "Walk on the Wild Side".

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"Walk on the Wild Side" was immediately followed the same year by another dramatic role in "The Chapman Report". Fonda played a frigid wife who becomes part of a Kinsey like sex survey. She also appeared in the comedy/drama "Period of Adjustment" based upon a Tennessee Williams play.

At an United Auto Workers Union retreat in Port Huron, Michigan on June 15, 1962. A young man completed what was a 25,700 word manifesto promoting civil disobedience by non-violent means. His manifesto was based upon the idea that individual citizens should be able to help make social decisions which would determine the quality of and the direction their own lives would take.  

Jane Fonda had no idea this young man existed, but "The Port Huron Statement" was written by her future second husband Tom Hayden. When they married in 1973. Another interesting happening in 1962 that would go against events from ten years later. Jane Fonda was named "Miss Army Recruiting" by the Pentagon.

On May 29, 1963 the British motion picture "In the Cool of the Day" was released in the United States. The film starred Peter Finch, Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury. During the same month the first protests since the Second World War against the Vietnam War took place in London, England and areas of Australia. Founded in 1923 "The War Resisters League" also holds the first continental United States protest against the war.

Late in 1963 the actress was in "Sunday in New York" co-starring Rod Taylor and Cliff Robertson. She was now being recognized for her work. In 1964 Jane Fonda would travel to France to make two motion pictures there.

The first was by arrangement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer "Les Felins (The Felines)". The French picture would be released in the United States as "Joy House". Jane Fonda's  co-stars were Alain Delon and Lola Albright. It was at this time that she met her future first husband French director Roger Vadim. Vadim was known more for his previous two wives Brigette Bardot and Annette Stroyberg than some of his motion pictures. Fonda would be his third. I wrote a blog article looking at three films Roger Vadim made with his first three wives.

 "Roger Vadim: Three Wives and Three Motion Pictures" can be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/08/rodger-vadim-three-wives-and-three.html

During her visits to France Jane Fonda met French "Leftists" whom she described as "Communists with a small C". The actress became an activist for Civil Rights during this same period.

On June 24, 1965 a great Western spoof came out. "Cat Ballou" starred Jane Fonda as a school teacher who becomes a famous outlaw. Lee Marvin won an Oscar for playing the dual roles of a drunken hero and his evil outlaw brother. Nat King Cole and comedian/singer Stubby Kaye played strolling minstrels who are seen throughout the movie telling the audience "The Ballad of Cat Ballou". Michael Callan and Dwayne Hickman play would be outlaws that join "Cat's" gang.

On August 14, 1965 Jane Fonda married Roger Vadim at the Dune's Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On a personal note in September of 1965 I took the oath and became a member of the United States Navy. By father thought I was doing the right thing, but my mother was scared she would loose me as American's became aware of the mounting American deaths.

Between September 1, 1965 and January 31, 1966, just a five month period, I was part of a group of 180,000 men who enlisted in the armed forces. During that same period 170,000 men where drafted and 200,000 men were deferred from "The Draft" by obtaining College Deferments.

In August 1965 according to the Gallop Poll only 24% of the American people believed it was a mistake to send American troops into Vietnam. 76% of us were backing President Johnson. This would change.

Jane Fonda along with other Hollywood actors were now voicing their concerns over American involvement in Vietnam. That involvement would grow within Southeast Asia as would the protests in the United States and around the World.

DAWNING OF THE AGE OF AQUARIUS

In 1966 two songs reflected the two sides of the Vietnam issue. One was by song writer Barry McGuire that had come out the year before called "Eve of Destruction" and contained the lyrics"

The eastern world it tis explodin',
Violence flarin', bullets loadin',
You're old enough to kill but not for votin',
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin',
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin',
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.


The other song was written by writer Robin Moore and Green Beret Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler called "The Ballad of the Green Beret".Staff Sgt. Sadler also sang the song. It lyrics contain the words:

Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret

Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men we'll test today
But only three win the Green Beret


"The Ballad of the Green Beret" was written to honor of Green Beret US Army Specialist 5 James Gabriel, Jr. Gabriel was the first native Hawaiian killed during the Vietnam War. His death occurred on a "Training" mission as an "Adviser" to South Vietnamese troops on April 8, 1962 by the Viet Cong.

On October 17,  1967 off Broadway a mostly unnoticed musical play premiered. It took a look at the growing anti-Vietnam war movement and was called "HAIR".

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revalation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius!
Aquarius
!

In October 1967 the Gallop Poll now showed 47% of the American people considered sending troops to Vietnam was a mistake. By September 1968 that number rose to 54%. More than half of American's were now against having sent troops into Vietnam. Which brings me back to John Wayne.

1968 and 1969
President Lyndon Johnson was facing protesters against the war in Vietnam wherever the President went. It was during the early months of 1968 that a group of Texas business men approached John Wayne to run for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Wayne declined the offer saying that the American public would never accept an actor as President.

Another group approached the actor to be the Vice Presidential running mate of Third Party Candidate Alabama Governor George Wallace. Once more John Wayne declined the offer and would campaign for Richard Nixon. The irony here is that American's were blaming the Democratic Party for getting the country into Vietnam to fight the Communists in the North. Yet, we would elect one of the strongest anti-Communists at the time Richard Milhous Nixon as President.

On June 19, 1968 a motion picture produced by John Wayne's son Michael, directed by both John Wayne and Ray Kellogg with an uncredited assist by Mervlyn Leroy was released. It was based on the best selling book by Robin Moore "The Green Berets".

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Image result for images of movie the green berets


John Wayne was upset with all the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and wanted to make a motion picture strongly anti-Communist and pro-Saigon. The idea wasn't bad, but the timing of the motion picture was.

Just 14 days prior to the movies release Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Back on April 4th Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Both were strong supporters of Civil Rights and getting out of Southeast Asia. As I said according to the Gallop Poll organization over half of the American people now believed it had been wrong to go into Vietnam.

The other major problem with "The Green Berets" was the style. Roget Ebert summed it up at Roger Ebert.com  on June 26, 1968:

"The Green  Berets" simply will not do as a film about the war in Vietnam. It is offensive not only to those who oppose American policy, but even to those who support it. At this moment in our history, locked in the longest and one of the most controversial wars we have ever fought, what we certainly do not need is a movie depicting Vietnam in terms of cowboys and Indians. That is cruel and dishonest and unworthy of the thousands who have died there.
John Wayne's film was a throwback to his pictures from  World War 2. When the fast majority of American's were supportive of defeating Germany and Japan. Now that growing majority was against the war Wayne supported in his film and wanted their sons home alive.

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Many people believe John Wayne's "The Green Berets" was the first Vietnam War film. For the record the first was released on February 5, 1964 and was quickly forgotten, or just overlooked. It was actually filmed by director and star Marshall Thompson in South Vietnam with a Vietnamese cast and technical crew in areas of operation by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. This picture was released in the United States under the title of "A Yank in Viet-Nam".

The story had been seen before during World War 2 and would be seen again. A pilot, Marshall Thompson, is shot down and rescued by a group of Freedom fighting guerrillas. There is a beautiful girl who he falls in love with, but the leader of the guerrillas is also in love with her.

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At the time of the release of "The Green Berets" American International Pictures was turning out youth and counterculture feature films that in their own ways portrayed the feelings about the Vietnam war in this country and the rebellious nature of the young. One of these pictures starred Jane Fonda's brother Peter and Frank Sinatra's daughter Nancy. Another film again starred Peter Fonda, but also two young actors named Jack Nicholson, who wrote it, and Bruce Dern. Dern was seen in the Fonda/Sinatra movie also. I saw these movies mostly in Jacksonville, Florida when my aircraft carrier the USS Shangri-la CVA-38 was in port. Here is a link to an article I wrote about my favorite five of these counterculture motion pictures:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/02/5-influential-viet-nam-era-movies-you.html

In August John Wayne spoke on the opening day of the Republican National Convention which would nominate Richard Nixon to run against Hubert Humphrey for the Presidency.

On October 10, 1968 a motion picture which at the time didn't go over, but would become a cult classic "Barbarella" starring Jane Fonda and directed by her husband Roger Vadim was released. This was one of several motion pictures the actress/activist was making in France with her husband and others.

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At the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 1968 a French/Italian co-production premiered and was released in France and Italy. It would be the following year on July 23, 1969 that "Spirits of The Dead" would be released by American International Pictures with an English language sound track, a little editing, and an added voice over in the opening and closing credits by Vincent Price reading the title Edgar Allan Poe poem. This trilogy of Poe stories starred Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda, Terrence Stamp, Alain Delon and Brigette Bardot. The three directors were Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini.  

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Jane Fonda was working overseas and in this country on Sidney Pollack's "They Shoot Horses Don't They". A movie about a dance marathon during the Depression that is depressing, on purpose, itself.
The film was nominated for Nine Academy Awards including Jane Fonda as Best Actress for her role as a cynical young women name Gloria .The picture only won for Gig Young as Best Supporting Actor. Jane Fonda was also nominated for Best Actress by the Golden Globes, a British BAFTA for Best Actress and she won The New York Film Critics Award for Best Actress. Jane Fonda was now a major Hollywood Actress that audiences went to see and listen too.

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On March 29, 1969 Conspiracy charges were issued on the eight suspected leaders of the protests at the Democratic Convention between August 23 to 28, 1968. The city exploded with violence connected to President Johnson's escalated war in Vietnam and what was considered would be Herbert Humphrey's continuation.

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Above on the right is a picture of the eight men charged with Conspiracy at the Democratic Convention. In the top row third from the left is Tom Hayden of the "Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)" and as I said above Jane Fonda's second husband. From 1982 through 1992 Tom Hayden would become a member of the California State Senate representing the 44th District.

Filmmaker Haskell Wexler had written a story about a television reporter covering the Democratic Convention. What he ended with was a fictional documentary of the riots in Chicago and some very brutal films of what actually occurred. The motion picture is entitled: "Medium Cool"

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On June 11, 1969 John Wayne was headed for that elusive Best Actor Academy Award with the release of "True Grit". Finally Hollywood looked at the actor and not the "Cowboy". Yes, "True Grit" was a Western and maybe they finally thought they should give him his due. but in my mind there were several films at least a nomination was worthwhile in the past. One of those was "Circus World". Where he again went somewhat against character and played a man guilty of adultery and a contributor to the death of the husband of the women he had loved. It's an interesting film , if you concentrate on the human story and not the Circus acts and Claudia Cardinale. You can read about what I call "Four Gutsy Role Choices" John Wayne took to get away from his "Cowboy" image at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/04/john-wayne-four-gutsy-role-choices.html.

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November 20, 1969 what was technically the third occupation of Alcatraz Island began by a group of Native Americans fighting for their Civil Rights. The following link will take my reader to an interesting posting by the National Parks Service on that third occupation which lasted 19 months.

https://www.nps.gov/alca/learn/historyculture/we-hold-the-rock.htm


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Indian rights activists took boats out to the island to bring supplies to the protesters. Among them were Merv Griffith, Anthony Quinn and Jane Fonda. There would be incidents between these supporters and the Army. One took place near Fort Lewis outside of Tacoma, Washington.

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On a personal note I completed by four years of active duty in the Navy in September 1969. I had learned a trade. I now knew how to make Napalm.

On a serious note my carrier operated in the Mediterranean Sea. I was seemingly lucky to not be in the Pacific and near Vietnam. However, from June 5 through June 10, 1967 I was in another war zone. We were moved off the coast of Egypt and Israel for a little confrontation known to history as "The Six Day War". The Shangri-la was at General Quarters the whole time and I was at my station in a 10 by 10 space with three other people the entire time. We would be broken out to go eat and at that time the bathroom. Otherwise I had a set of phones to my ears and relayed information to and from the Division Executive Officer in the space with me. The third member of the group was a runner. On deck there were actual nuclear weapons being guarded by the Marines.

When I volunteered for duty, although we would hear of anti-Vietnam protests, the country was behind President Johnson. However, as many found out things can change in four years. I came out like many I knew questioning our involvement in Southeast Asia.

I think Bob Dylan had the appropriate words at the time:

Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

By September 1969 55% of the American citizenship were against our involvement in Vietnam. Only a one percent increase over same time last year, but it was up and not down.

On October 10, 1969 President Nixon sent a squadron of 18 B-52's loaded with nuclear weapons to race to the boarder of the Soviet air space to convince the Soviet Union he was capable of anything. This became known as "The Madman Theory".  It sounded more like two 1964 motion pictures "Fail Safe" and "Dr. Stranglove".

On November 3, 1969 President Nixon went on television to announce what would be known as "The Nixon Doctrine". It contained three important points:

First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments.

Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security.

Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense.

The Nixon Administration started "Vietnamization" a plan to remove American troops and train more South Vietnamese to defend their country under the "Nixon Doctrine". When this was announced there were 540,000 American troops "in country".


1970 and 1971


In April 1970 Jane Fonda was part of a group that included actor Donald Sutherland, Political Activist Fred Gardner and play write Barbara Garson, Garson wrote the 1966 play "MacBird". She transferred the assassination of President Kennedy into Shakespeare's "MacBeth". Lyndon Johnson was of course "MacBird" and his wife Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson became "Lady MacBird". Actor Stacey Keach played "MacBird" and Actress Rue McClanahan was "Lady MacBeth". (see cast photo below)

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This group formed the "Free The Army Tour" also known simply as the "F.T.A." tour. The Army had a  recruiting slogan  "Fun, Travel and Adventure" which was turned into "F---k the Army" by the troops and in turn into "Free The Army" by the cast. The show was a parody of "Bob Hope's U.S.O. Tours" and went to military towns along the West Coast. In 1972 the tour became a feature film. It was directed by Francine Parker one of the first female members of "The Directors Guild of America".

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Image result for images of the movie FTA

Image result for images of the movie FTA

On April 30, 1970 President Richard Nixon announced that the United States had invaded Cambodia and 150,000 new soldiers were needed for this expansion of the war in Southeast Asia. An action in direct opposition to his own stated "Vietnamization" Goals.

From May 1st through May 4th Students at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio held demonstrations against the "incursion" into Cambodia. No one in this country who had a television would ever forget the events of May 4th.

Friday May 1st saw about 500 students of Kent State hold a demonstration and burn a copy of the U.S. Constitution in protest of what President Nixon had done. Trouble occurred late at night when some people left a bar and had a confrontation with local Police Officers. Rocks were thrown and some windows broken. Those involved were transients, some local bikers and a few students.

On May 2nd local business men received threats that radicals from out of the State were in Kent, or coming to it to cause trouble. The ROTC Building at Kent State was set on fire and reports were made that some Campus Police Officers attempting to put it out were hit by rocks. The business leaders met with local city officials and a call went out to Governor Rhodes for National Guard help. The National Guard did not arrive until approximately 10 PM that Saturday night.

May 3rd saw Governor Rhodes meeting with Kent City officials and calling the demonstrating students "anti-American", According to "The President's Council on Campus Unrest" pages 253-254. Governor Rhodes was quoted as telling Kent City Officials and representatives of the State National Guard that Sunday:

We've seen here at the city of Kent especially, probably the most vicious of campus-orientated violence yet perpetrated by dissent groups. They make definite plans of burning, destroying, and throwing rocks at police and at the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. This is when we're going to use every part of the law enforcement agency of Ohio to drive them out of Kent. We are going to eradicate the problem. We're not going to treat the symptoms. And these people just move from one campus to other and terrorize the community. They're worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and vigilantes.
They're the worse type of people that we harbor in America. Now I want to say this. They are not going to take over (the) campus. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.

May 4th, 1970 saw the Ohio National Guard on the Kent State Campus. A protest had been planned on May 1st for Noon May 4th. University Officials passed out 12,000 leaflets stating they were cancelling permission to demonstrate, but approximately 2,000 Students still came to the Kent State Commons.

The guard was used to clear demonstrators on three different occasions, but some of the students kept returning. Then came the incident at 12:24 PM. As a group of 77 guardsmen were retracing their footsteps back up Blanket Hill to the Commons after dispersing another group of students. Several guardsmen turned to look at the Prentice Hall parking lot area and noticed another group of students. Claiming to have been fired upon by a sniper, which was never proven, Sergeant Myron Pryor began firing his 45 mm pistol at the students. Other members of the Ohio National Guard also started firing their weapons. In all 29 of the 77 claimed to have fired upon the students in the Prentice Hall Parking Lot located 100 yards away.

When the 13 seconds of firing was over four students were dead and nine others wounded. Of the four dead students only two had actually participated in the anti-war demonstrations the guard had dispersed. The other two had just been walking from one class to another and were caught in the weapons fire. The irony was that one of the two students walking to another class was William Knox Schroeder a member of the Kent State ROTC. Whose building had been burned down and would have eventually become a member of the same Guard Unit that fired upon him.

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Image result for kent state massacreImage result for kent state massacre

While the events of May 4, 1970 were unfolding at Kent State. Jane Fonda was speaking before an assembly on GI Rights and issues at the University of New Mexico. Entering the area she was speaking at was a very drunk major Beat Generation Poet Gregory Corso. He walked onto the stage where Fonda was standing and asked why she wasn't addressing the "Massacre" of students at Kent State that just happened?

Jane Fonda in her autobiography stated she was shocked by the news and felt like a fool. Later that day she would join a group of protesters who marched on the Office of the President of the University of New Mexico. This group of protesters in Fonda's presence called themselves: ''THEY SHOOT STUDENTS, DON'T THEY?"

Later in 1970 Jane Fonda spoke at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania at a rally organized by "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" The organization was founded in 1967 and at the height of the war had a membership of over 25,000 Vietnam Veterans.

In January of 1971 that Gallop Poll asking if American's felt going into Vietnam was a mistake had reached 59%.  Returning to that 1971 "Playboy Magazine" interview with John Wayne. The actor was asked what he felt about "Social Programs" in the United States:
I know all about that, in the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself---but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and give more thought to his and his fellow man's responsibilities, he finds that it can't work out that way---that some people just don't carry their load...I believe in welfare---a welfare work program. I don't think a fellow should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I'd like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can't understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.  

Between April 19th and April 28, 1971 the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" did two major things. One was a five day camp out on the National Mall. On April 24th 200,000 people including members of the Vietnam Veterans group held a peaceful demonstration against the war on the Mall. The same day in San Francisco, California another 156,000 also demonstrated.

While the demonstrations continued members of the "Vietnam Veterans Against the War", including future Senator John Kerry, testified before various Congressional panels on the war.

On May 26, 1971 John Wayne was back in the saddle again in "Big Jake" opposite his favorite actress Maureen O'Hara.

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On June 25, 1971 a very adult crime drama called "Klute" opened. It starred Jane Fonda as prostitute Bree Daniels opposite her friend Donald Sutherland. as Detective John Klute. Fonda would win the first of her two Academy Awards for Best Actress portraying Bree Daniels.

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A raid in the early hours of August 22, 1971 was planned on the Camden, New Jersey draft board. The "Camden 28" were caught, because one of their members informed the authorities. He was against the war, but did not approve of the destruction of the draft board. What is interesting here was this group were mainly anti-Vietnam Catholics that included four Catholic priests and some nuns.


1972 and "Hanoi Jane"
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January 13, 1972 saw the premiere of "The Cowboys" starring John Wayne. People were shocked when Bruce Dern's character of Asa Watts shoots multiple times at Wayne's unarmed Will Anderson and steals his heard of cattle. They were further shocked when the young boys John Wayne took on to drive the heard go after Dern for Anderson's murder.

John Wayne defended the film saying it was like "Good-bye Mr. Chips", or his "Sands of Iwo Jima". As it tells how an adult takes a group of children and molds them into men by in Wayne's words instructing them in "The Right Skills and Values".

Image result for images of 1972 movie the cowboys

Image result for images of 1972 movie the cowboys

"The Cowboys" is an excellent motion picture, but also reflected the changes to the type of stories Hollywood was making by 1972. That year saw Marlon Brando in "The Godfather", the musical "Cabaret" set in pre-World War 2 Germany, Ralph Bakshi's "Fritz the Cat" and the blaxploitation films of "Blacula" and "Shaft's Big Score".

April 17, 1972 saw 800 National Guardsmen sent to quell an anti-Vietnam demonstration at the University of Maryland.

April 28, 1973 French director Jean-Luc Goddard's film "Tout Va Bien (Everything Goes Well)" starring Yves Montand and Jane Fonda premiered. It wouldn't be until February 16, 1973 that the picture would arrive in the United States as "All's Well". Fonda played an American reporter with a French husband who witnesses a strike at a Sausage factory. The strike reflected the class struggle that resulted in civil unrest during May 1968 in France.

May 21, 1972 15,000 people march on Washington, D.C. protesting the continued bombing of North Vietnam and the mining of the harbors in the North.

Move ahead to January 15, 2015. When Vanity Fair on their website runs an article about an incident at the Weinberg Center of the Arts in Frederick, Maryland the Friday before.

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/01/jane-fonda-regrets-hanoi-jane

Actress Jane Fonda appeared at the Center and 50 Vietnam Veterans protested against her being in their city. This was 43 years after her infamous photographs taken in Hanoi. Jane Fonda can not escape the nickname of "Hanoi Jane"

What was this incident that many American's still brand the actress with the word: "Traitor"?

Jane Fonda went to North Vietnam for the stated purpose of observing the damage to the dike system caused by the bombing that the march on Washington, D.C. I mentioned above had protested.

The following transcript is of a radio address she gave on August 22, 1972 in North Vietnam:
This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life- workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women's union, writers.
I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.
In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me- the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.
I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam- these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.
I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets- schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.
As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble- strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly- and I pressed my cheek against hers- I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America's.
One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist. I've spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.
But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created- being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools- the children learning, literacy- illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.
And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders- and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism- I don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.
The above transcript was submitted to the "U.S. House Committee on Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas" in September of 1972. Most American's did not know the nature of the above radio broadcast, but it was the photos that were taken at a North Vietnamese Army gun emplacement that caused the initial outcry of "Traitor".






It has been confirmed that many of the stories the circulated about Jane Fonda in Vietnam were false. One such story said American Prisoners of War were paraded by her in chains and Fonda spit upon them. To be fair to the actress there are still groups, some on Facebook, that still repeat that story and others proven to be false.

Was Jane Fonda's act that of a "Traitor" to our country at a time when statistically 60 percent of American's were now against the Vietnam War? That question is for my reader to answer and not me.

In the United States everyone is entitled to a fair trial and the best defense. Sometimes that is the words of the defendant. The following link takes my reader to Jane Fonda's own website and her explanation of the events that occurred while she was in North Vietnam.

http://www.janefonda.com/the-truth-about-my-trip-to-hanoi/

On January 31, 1973 Jane Fonda's first film after her visit to Hanoi opened.. It was a crime comedy called "Steel Yard Blues" and starred Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Peter Boyle. The movie did not get wide release, because it starred three anti-war activists. However, it found its audience on the College Campus circuit and became a cult film and an iconic 1970's picture featuring a great sound track.

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In 1973 two feature film versions of Henrik Ibsen's play "A Doll's House" were released. The first version was a British film directed by Patrick Garland. It starred Claire Bloom as Nora Helmer and Anthony Hopkins as her domineering husband Torvald Helmer. The film was released in the United States on May 22, 1973.

The second feature film was a Franco-British production starring Jane Fonda as Nora and co-starred David Warner as her domineering husband Torvald. This was directed by Joseph Losey, but it did not play in theaters as the Garland film had. Losey's production was broadcast on ABC Television on December 23, 1973.

A Doll's House VideoCover.jpeg

The film obtained controversy because of Jane Fonda's feminist views at the time and her public image caused by her visit to Hanoi. Film Critic Leonard Maltin wrote this was actually a reason to see the picture, because of Fonda's feminism being reflected in the character of Nora.

While Film Critic Neil Sinyard had an opposing view writing:
Perhaps the star's own feminist associations obscure our vision of the character's blind and painful quest towards self-awareness and undermine the shock of Nora's startling decision (startling, that is, to a nineteenth century audience) to walk out on her husband and children.

John Wayne would be seen in both "The Train Robbers" a very good Western with a trick ending and "Cahill, U.S. Marshall" in 1973.

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Image result for images of movie cahill u.s. marshal

At this time President Nixon's "Vietnamization" seemed to be in full swing with the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, but where they just being moved one country over to Cambodia was the question?

January 27, 1973 became a major date in the War as the "Paris Peace Accords" were signed and a cease fire in Vietnam was put into effect. President Nixon's administration seemed to be forced into full withdrawal of American Troops now.

Per the agreement on February 12, 1973 the first of America's POW's are released. All POW's are to be released from  imprisonment by April 1st.

Two months after the "Accords" were signed the last American Combat Troops leave Vietnam.





The on March 15, 1973 President Nixon implied that the United States would intervene in Vietnam military, if the North Violated the ceasefire. His "Trial Balloon" got a reaction the President had not expected. American's reacted negatively to the idea of more military action in Southeast Asia. According to the Gallop Poll 60 percent of American's were now against any action in Vietnam and believed President Johnson's actions of putting ground troops "in country" had been wrong.

In April President Nixon appointed Graham Martin as Ambassador to South Vietnam. During his confirmation hearings Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger recommended resumption of bombing of North Vietnam, if the North invaded the South. The reaction in Congress was the "Case-Church Amendment" approved in June and effective as of July 1, 1973. It prohibited any military action in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia without full Congressional approval. When it became obvious to Present Nixon that "Case-Church" might pass. Both the President and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger lobbied to have the effective date moved beyond July 1st. The Amendment passed the House 325 to 86 and the Senate 73 to 16. There was no chance that a veto by the President would not be overridden.

It should be noted that the only organized Protest against the war in 1973 happened on January 20th over Richard Nixon's inauguration for a Second Term as President.

The conflict in the South continued after all American personal were out of the country. In August 1974 the United States cut military aid to South Vietnam. In April 1975 the South Vietnamese Army fell and on July 2, 1976 the country of Vietnam was officially united as "The Socialist Republic of Vietnam". More than 47,000 American Military personnel lost their lives in the conflict and another 11,000 died from other causes.

They say Hindsight can be the ultimate cop out, but a question needs to be raised here. 
Would we have ever been in Vietnam had President Harry Truman responded to Ho Chi Minh's request to mediate between the North and France? Maybe, Maybe not. Just a hypothetical question looking backwards.

HOLLYWOOD AFTER THE WAR ENDED 
During the Vietnam war with the exception of John Wayne's "The Green Berets" and a second movie "To the Shores of Hell" also starring Marshall Thompson in 1966. There were no Hollywood movies about actual combat in Vietnam. Unless you consider "The Losers" aka: "Nam's Angels" a combat film. The 1970 picture was made before there was American involvement in Cambodia. Although by its release date we were in that country. "The Losers" was about a rescue mission into Cambodia by a group of Hell's Angels types. because American troops could not violate the border.

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While Hollywood did not make motion pictures that dealt directly with actual combat in Vietnam other than the three mentioned above. The films made looked at mental illness of returning Veterans, but not necessary in a positive way. The first one had the Veteran be the title character of "MotorPyscho" in 1965. 1968 had another disturbed Veteran as a sniper who kills his wife and mother in Peter Bogdanovich's 1968 "Targets" starring Boris Karloff.

1969's made for television "The Ballad of Andy Crocker" dealt with a Vietnam Veteran's adjustment to civilian life and the problems having been in combat causes him. 1972's "The Visitors" by director Elia Kazan tells of a married ex-soldier who has two ex-army buddies arrive at his house. During the visit his girlfriend learns he faced a court-martial for killing innocent Vietnamese civilians after being ordered to do so. This was the last American made Vietnam movie until the war ended.

The first Hollywood motion picture made after the war ended was Martin Scorsese's 1976 "Taxi Driver" starring Robert DeNiro. Once more we have a disturbed Vietnam Veteran. On November 4, 1977 the first motion picture attempting to seriously address Vietnam War issues with returning Veterans was released to mixed reviews. "Heroes" starred Henry Winkler as a Vet with PTSD. Playing his girlfriend was Sally Field and as another soldier, from Winkler's old unit. Harrison Ford is a dysfunctional stock car driver who hides a stolen M-16 in his mobile home.

The first Hollywood motion picture actually dealing with the Marine ground soldier in Vietnam also came out in 1977. "The Boys from Company C," is the first of a Vietnam trilogy by director Sidney J. Furie and follows Marine recruits in San Diego through their first tour of duty in Vietnam.

However, it was the powerful motion picture from Jane Fonda's production company IPC (Indochina Peace Campaign) in 1978 that finally awoken America to the real horror's faced by returning Vietnam Veterans.  Fonda was a friend of paraplegic Ron Kovic. Kovic would eventually write his own autobiography "Born of the Fourth of July".Jane Fonda's  "Coming Home" was her tribute to Kovic and the other men who did not come back "whole" from the war.

Fonda would win her second Best Actress Oscar for her role of Conservative Military Wife Sally Hyde. Co-star John Voight won the Best Actor Oscar for his role as the paraplegic Luke Martin. Nominated for Best Supporting Actor was Bruce Dern portraying Sally's Military husband Captain Bob Hyde. Penelope Miford was nominate for Best Supporting Actress in the role of Sally's friend Vi Munson. Whose brother, Robert Carradine,  returned from Vietnam after only two weeks with emotional issues. Staying with Oscar nominations the picture was up for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Film Editing.

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1978 was also the year of Best Picture Winner "The Deer Hunter" about what happens to the lives of three friends who go to Vietnam and "Go Tell the Spartans" about the first military advisers in Vietnam during 1964.

All these films were a long way from the tone of John Wayne's patriotic "The Green  Berets". A movie I admit I enjoy. Back in 1976 the actor played aging gunfighter J.B. Brooks in "The Shootist". This was a very potent film in Wayne's career besides being his last. The actor's character is dying from cancer and is facing the passing of the Old West by modern progress in the year 1901. The montage of old Wayne films used to tell the backstory of J.B. Brooks is a fitting tribute to the actor John Wayne. Just as the picture reminds us why we still love a good Western.

John Wayne would pass away on June 11, 1979 from stomach cancer, but while the actor is not with us. His legend and films remains.

Jane Fonda continues her acting career and would be nominated four more times for the Best Actress Oscar and has a film in post production as I write this article.

No matter what side of the Vietnam War a person was at the time, or even now in retrospect. One fact remains. Today we have clothing and other items with tags reading "Made in Vietnam".

I must get political here for one moment. While running for the Presidency of the United States. The Republican candidate insulted Republican Senator John McCain who had been a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The future President said of this War Hero:
I like people who weren't captured.
I admire men like Naval Commander John Sidney McCain III even if my politics is not the same.  He was imprisoned in what became known as "The Hanoi Hilton" from October 26, 1967 until March 14, 1973.


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