McGriff and Albaby are probably doing the worst law enforcement job in the world - they are plain clothes U.S. military policemen on duty in war-time Saigon. However, their job becomes even... See full summary »
The title refers to the U.S. Army's former "MOS" (job code) for a combat cameraman. The story follows a unit of American G.I.s in Vietnam, all with different backgrounds and motives for being there, through the lens of his camera.
Patrick Sheane Duncan
On Christmas Eve Johnny Modine's father is murdered by a psycho cut-throat. The cop swears bloody revenge, though he's taken off the case. He doesn't suspect yet that he's also target in a ... See full summary »
Actual Marine aircraft were used in this film. KC 130 R and F models from Marine Aerial Refueling Squadron VMGR 352 were filmed taxiing on runways and having coffins removed from them. Active duty Marines from the base were also used to depict Marines marching in columns that were returning from Vietnam. The F model aircraft used in the film actually flew many missions during the Vietnam conflict. See more »
The captain can be seen breathing after he is supposedly killed at the end of the film. See more »
Marine Aerial Refueling Squadron VMGR 352 See more »
The tedium, the horror, the frustration, the slaughter, the sadness and futility
Released to TV in two parts in 1980, "A Rumor of War" is a film adaption of Phil Caputo's autobiographical 1977 book of the same name. The story chronicles Caputo (Brad Davis) before the war, during officer training and, mostly, his service in Vietnam as a lieutenant from 1965-1968.
The version I've seen (three times) is the original television version, which is 188 minutes, but it might be more like 191 minutes uncompressed. Some say there's a 195-minute version (which is what my VHS says) and this version likely has 4-5 additional minutes with cussing and nudity, which were deleted for TV. This might indicate that the original version was considered for theatrical release.
In any case, "A Rumor of War" is a quality overview of the infamous war, at least as far as one year through the eyes of an initially passionate young officer. The score is great and varied. There are moody parts reminiscent of "Apocalypse Now" (1979) as well as many parts that influenced the later "Platoon" (1986). While it's not as good as those movies it's surprisingly well done and, as my title blurb says, effectively shows the tedium, the horror, the frustration, the slaughter, the sadness and futility of the war.
The last third switches from Caputo being in charge of a platoon in the bush to being "Officer in Charge of the Dead," back at camp where Caputo said senior officers were more worried about trivial matters than strategy, such as casualty stats, movies being played in the open at night, risking mortar attacks, and enemy corpses being displayed as hunting trophies for visiting generals, etc.
You might remember Brad Davis (R.I.P.) from 1978's excellent "Midnight Express." He's formidable as the protagonist and supported by quality actors, like Michael O'Keefe, Keith Carradine and Brian Dennehy. Stacy Keach and Jeff Daniels have glorified cameos. Gail Youngs has the sole mentionable female role.
BOTTOM LINE: "A Rumor of War" isn't bizarre and fantastical like "Apocalypse Now" or over-the-top like "Platoon." It's a thoroughly realistic take on the Vietnam War through the eyes of a green lieutenant and his one-year experience.
The film was shot in Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, and Mexico.
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