Go Tell the Spartans

Synopsis: A unit of American military advisors in Vietnam prior to the major U.S. involvement find similarities between their helpless struggle against the Viet Cong and the doomed actions of a French unit at the same site a decade before in this bitter look at the beginnings of the Vietnam war.
Genre: Drama, War
Director(s): Ted Post
Production: AVCO Embassy Pictures
  1 nomination.
114 min


Get that man out of that jug!

He say he not Cong.

We make him say he Cong.

He can't say anything if

you drown him. Now get him out!

Yes, sir, major. Instamment.


He lie, major.

He goddamn bastard.

Put him back in the cage,

you hear me?

God damn it, Cowboy!

Do you hear me?

Yes, sir, major. Instamment.

Any traffic?

Uh, let's see. Mung Tau

wants to get lit up tonight.

You pass the signal

to Nighthawk?

It's passed.

What are you juicing up now,


Carrots and onions.

You think it'll cure

your pimples?

It'll keep my bowels open


- AI.

- Major.

"Instamment, major."

I'm gonna zap that goddamn gook.

Which gook, sir?

Cowboy. He had a prisoner

stuck in the water jug again.

Well, you can't shoot

that goddamn gook, sir.

He knows English, French,

Chinese, and 75 Viet dialects.

I can shoot him. I can shoot him

and his goddamn dialects.

Thank you, Kwan.

I didn't get

my combat infantryman's badge.

Why not?

New regulation from Saigon...

that you gotta have

thirty days under fire.

I've only got twenty-two.

Well, I guess you'll have

to get out in the field, Al...

and kick a little ass, huh?

When, sir?

When I don't need you here

anymore. What's the new map?

We got a query from Saigon...

about some crummy hamlet

called Muc Wa.

It's in this map plot here.

What do they want?

Complete position paper.

Oh, sh*t.

Too goddamn many

static defense posts as it is.

That's what happened

to the French.

They got themselves tied down

in static defense.

What do we know

about this... this Muc stuff?

Muc Wa.

- Hey, sir.

- "Hey, sir."

Jesus Christ.

What is it, Toffee?

The replacements are here.

Close the door a minute.

Make up a position paper, Al.

Tell them that Muc F***

has about...

Muc Wa, sir.

Muc Wa. Muc Wa

has about two hundred people...

mostly old men,

women, and children.

No Cong activity there

for years.

Severe drought conditions.

No water for troops.

Uh, it's on a river, sir.

Well, fix it up.

In the opinion

of this command...

this hamlet is of no strategic

significance whatsoever?

"Et shitera."

Toffee. Toffee?

Yes, sir?

- You got their papers?

- Yes.

Hamilton, Raymond...

second lieutenant.

What the hell are they sending

us second lieutenants for?

All right, Toffee. Show the o...

- Yes, sir.

- Show the officer in.

Yes, sir.

Come in, lieutenant.

Lieutenant Hamilton, sir.

I'm Major Barker.

Captain Olivetti, the exec.

- So, lieutenant?

- Sir!

Relax, kid. Sit down.

Thank you, sir.

How old are you, lieutenant?

Twenty-three, sir.

And still a second?

What the hell do they expect us

to do with you?

We don't have any slots

for second lieutenants.

Send me into the field, sir.

I feel that

I can kill communists...

as well as any

first lieutenant, sir.

Well, let's not rush things.

Why did you volunteer

for Vietnam?

Well, sir...

I feel that

if my country's at war...

it's my duty to fight for it.

All right, lieutenant.

We'll see if we can't

find a slot for you.

Thank you, sir.



Oleonowski, sir.

How've you been, Oleo?


Have I changed that much?

Goddamn. Mr. Barker.

Captain Olivetti, exec.

- How do you do, sir?

- Oleo and I served in Korea.

He kept my butt from being

shot off more than once.

Well, he was a pretty good

officer, too, sir.

Officers didn't have to be

very good with men like Oleo.

Where have you been stationed?

- South, sir. Delta.

- Hairy?

Oh, Jesus.

I'll tell you, sir...

I had three teams

shot out from under me.

How's it up here, sir?

Hairy sometimes, but

the casualties aren't too bad.

That's good, sir.

We'll find something for you,


Thank you, sir.

It's nice to be

in your command again, sir.


Put him in charge of weapons

training with a squad of puffs.

I can use him in the field.

He's burnt out, Al.

Let him rest.


Lincoln, sir.


Yes, sir.

Well, we can use

a good bac si, corporal.

It says here you've been serving

with the dispensary in Saigon.

- Yes, sir.

- Been out in the field much?

Not much, sir.

Why not?

They didn't assign me, sir.

All right, corporal. That's all.

Abraham Lincoln.

How'd you like to go through

life with a moniker like that?

No wonder the poor bastard

looks like he's caved in.

- What'll I do with him?

- Assign him to clap control.

Corporal Stephen Courcey,

college graduate.


This one's a draftee, Al.

Demolitions training.

Well, that's S.O.P.

Charlie blew up everything

around here ten years ago.


What's your name, soldier?

Oh, sorry. Courcey, sir.

What are you doing here?

- Sir?

- In Vietnam. You volunteered.

Sir, if I had to be a soldier...

I wanted to be in

the roughest, toughest outfit...

in the U.S. Army, sir.

Well, that's fine, corporal.

But that adds six months

to your draft hitch, doesn't it?

Yes, sir.

Now, look, corporal...

I'm going to ask you once again

what you're doing here...

and don't give me

any of that crap...

about the roughest, toughest

outfit in the U.S. Army.

Does it matter, sir?

The point is, I'm here

of my own choosing, sir.

All right, corporal. Dismissed.

Now, what right

does a f***ing draftee have...

to volunteer for anything?

Or second lieutenants?

What do you want me

to do with him, sir?

Put him on mosquito patrol?

What else?

You and the corporal

got plenty...

of insect repellant

on your faces?

Yes, sir.

You don't have any on your arms,

do you?

- No, sir.

- All right, lieutenant.

Quartermaster people in Saigon

gotta have this information.

They gotta establish


for mosquito net

and an insect repellant.

Yes, sir.

You don't have to salute

all the time, lieutenant.

Not out here in the boonies.

Thank you, sir.

OK, corporal, follow me.

Any action?

Not yet.

- Toffee.

- Yeah, major.

Any traffic from Mung Tau?

Uh, yeah. They're asking

for the flare ships.

I told them they ought to be

up there in a few minutes.

Charlie's on the prod again.

God damn it,

I want to see those flares.

Nighthawk control must have

Mung Tau runnin' out its ears.

They flew forty-four hours

in there last week.

Screw Nighthawk. I want

that f***in' jungle lit up!

- Toffee.

- Yeah?

- Send a signal to Nighthawk.

- There they go, sir.

Forget it, Toffee.

Yeah. OK.

Now they can kick

that little mother's ass.

There's a firefight

out there somewhere.

That's where I want to be.

Well, we have our own duty

to perform, corporal.

Ah, yeah.

You count this time,

I'll expose.

Oh, that's OK. I'll do it.

No. I never ask my men to do

anything I won't do myself.

OK... time.





Thirty seconds, sir.

OK, count!

I get twenty-three, sir.

Ow. They really zing you,

don't they?

Maybe we'll get

a purple heart. Ha!

I don't think

that's very funny, corporal.

OK, let's get moving.

We got four more stations

to run tests on.

That amapola will kill you.

It's altogether

fitting and proper.

What the f***

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Daniel Ford

Daniel Ford (born 1931 in Arlington, Massachusetts) is an American journalist, novelist, and historian. The son of Patrick and Anne Ford, he attended public schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, graduating in 1950 from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He was educated at the University of New Hampshire (A.B. Political Science 1954), the University of Manchester (Fulbright Scholar, Modern European History 1954–55), and King's College London (M.A. War Studies 2010). Ford served in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg and in Orléans, France. Following an apprenticeship at the Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt, Germany, he became a free-lance writer in Durham, New Hampshire. He received a Stern Fund Magazine Writers' Award (1964) for his dispatches from South Vietnam, published in The Nation; a Verville Fellowship (1989–90) at the National Air and Space Museum to work with Japanese accounts of the air war in Southeast Asia; and an Aviation - Space Writers' Association Award of Excellence (1992) for his history of the Flying Tigers. He is best known for his Flying Tigers research and for the Vietnam novel that became the Burt Lancaster film Go Tell the Spartans. Ford is a resident scholar at the University of New Hampshire. He writes for the Wall Street Journal, Michigan War Studies Review, and Air&Space/Smithsonian magazine; maintains the Warbird's Forum, Piper Cub Forum, and Reading Proust websites; and blogs on Daniel Ford's Blog. He soloed in a J-3 Piper Cub at the age of 68 and flew as a sport pilot until he turned 80. Office: 433 Bay Road, Durham NH 03824 USA. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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