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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The Green Berets [Blu-ray]

 

(Ray Kellogg, John Wayne and Mervyn LeRoy (uncredited), 1968)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Batjac Productions

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:21:57.842

Disc Size: 31,909,402,901 bytes

Feature Size: 31,290,071,040 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.88 Mbps

Chapters: 37

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 5th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.4:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 413 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 413 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English , Danish, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none

 

Extras:

• Vintage Featurette: The Moviemakers: The Making of The Green Berets (7:11 in SD)

Theatrical trailer (2:58 in SD)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Anyone who fought in Vietnam can tell you that the war bore little resemblance to this propagandistic action film starring and co-directed by John Wayne. But the film itself is not nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest; critics roasted its gung-ho politics while ignoring its merits as an exciting (if rather conventional and idealistic) war movie. Some notorious mistakes were made--in the final shot, the sun sets in the east!--and it's an awkward attempt to graft WWII heroics onto the Vietnam experience. But as the Duke's attempt to acknowledge the men who were fighting and dying overseas, it's a rousing film in which Wayne commands a regiment on a mission to kidnap a Viet Cong general. David Janssen plays a journalist who learns to understand Wayne's commitment to battling Communism, and Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) plays an ill-fated soldier who adopts a Vietnamese orphan.

 

 

The Film:

John Wayne's second directorial effort, The Green Berets, was met with much controversy when first released in 1968. While The Alamo (1960) was received with some critical derision, the Vietnam War epic was lambasted by most critics for its simplistic depiction of the conflict. But despite overwhelming protest and attacks on the movie in the press, Wayne was famously resolute in defense of the film. Audiences rewarded Wayne's persistence by pouring over $11 million into the box office coffers. It was his opinion that The Green Berets was a financial success because the "ridiculously one-sided criticism of the picture only made people more conscious of it," proving that "the reviews were not very effective." The Duke always maintained that he was simply trying to remind the audience that soldiers were dying for them. He knew about this firsthand because he had volunteered for a tour of Vietnam combat zones where he entertained troops, often at the risk of his own safety. It was this experience that inspired his movie.

Long before box office or critical response became a factor, Wayne had different worries prior to production. He needed some of the resources of the Pentagon to make his film as realistic as possible, but the military brass at the Pentagon were no fans of the 1965 national bestseller on which the movie was based. Robin Moore's collection of short stories called "The Green Berets" portrayed the crack commando unit as lawless, sadistic, and racist. Moore, who plays a cameo in the film and claimed to have trained as a Green Beret, stated that these attributes were the signs of "real men." A feature-length, big budget movie that was to be based on such a depiction of the American military elite made the Pentagon quite nervous. Naturally, Pentagon officials demanded changes to the script before Wayne and company were granted access to Fort Benning, Georgia, with all its modern hardware at their disposal. These conflicts in pre-production, as well as normal shooting delays, hampered the film's release until July, 1968, a full six months after the Communists' Tet Offensive, which was the beginning of the end for an American victory in Vietnam. The delayed release proved unfortunate since The Green Berets arrived on the heels of the notorious My Lai massacre in March, 1968, an incident which seriously undermined the film's credibility.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

The Green Berets looks pretty impressive on VC-1 encoded Blu-ray from Warner.  It is exceptionally clean, flesh tones look accurate and detail can be quite remarkable for a film of over 40-years ago. It's dual-layered with a reasonable bitrate. The image is smooth with some clunky grain visible in backgrounds.  Some scenes even show some depth. I don't know what I was expecting from the transfer, but I'd say this effort exceeds it to some degree. This Blu-ray probably looks not too far off the original 35mm appearance. This image can look mighty impressive at times.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

No boost going on here - its a mono track sounding pretty flat at a meager 413 kbps. I like the authenticity but fans who indulge for their Surround systems will be left empty handed with The Green Berets. Miklós Rózsa's score still sounds quite excellent without the separations of demonstrative depth. There are a host of subtitle options and foreign language DUBs signifying it as the 'international release' and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

Nothing of any consequence with a 7-minute vintage featurette: The Moviemakers: The Making of The Green Berets in SD - probably found on the old DVD - and a 3-minute theatrical trailer (also, NOT in HD).

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I love to say it was a pleasure seeing 'The Duke' in 1080P again, but the film is a mass of clichés and too many flag-waving hypocrisies making it is hard to enjoy beyond seeing some favorite performers like David Janssen, Aldo Ray, Jim Hutton, George Takei ('Sulu') and Jack Soo ('Yamana').  It seems natural to compare it to John Ford, but it has none of the simple pleasures of remarkable storytelling and gentle subtext. It's a decent adventure but my advice would be not to expect too much from the film as a whole. The Blu-ray does its job well enough - it can tend to look quite striking at times and purists may appreciate the mono audio. Without some effort put into new supplements - it makes for a hard sell and even harder recommendation for more than $15. 

Gary Tooze

December 19th, 2009

 

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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