Vietnam/WW2 Extra Credit


As an option for extra credit, you may choose to watch videos about WW2 and Vietnam, and  compare them.  All videos not on the list need to be approved beforehand by your teacher.  ALL videos need to meet your family’s guidelines for viewing.  Many of the movies of this genre contain graphic violence, and should be approved by your parents BEFORE you watch them.

Complete the following to receive the credit:


1. Write a summary description of each movie, including:

a. date of production

b. topic or historical event covered by the video (specific battles or historical figures portrayed)

c. main plot/theme/events of the movie

 2. Compare the two movies (be sure to cite specific examples).  Areas of specific mention may include, but re not limited to:

a. How is the individual soldier portrayed? (heroic, scared, irrational)

b. Is war treated as good/bad/necessary? ….give examples

c. main plot/theme/events of the movie



Alice’s Restaurant (1969) Address the military draft in a humorous manner.  Arlo Guthrie stars.

Apocalypse Now (1979).  Remake of Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, with a Vietnam War

    setting.  Stars Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989).  Story of a paralyzed Vietnam veteran Ron Kovid turned anti-war

    activist, and his many challenges assimilating back into American society.  Stars Tom Cruise.

China Gate (1957).  Set during the French war in Vietnam.  Stars Gene Barry and Angie Dickinson.

Coming Home (1978).  Story of a wounded veteran and his readjustment to civilian life.  Stars Jane

    Fonda, Jon Voigth, and Bruce Dern.  (Academy Award Winner).

The Deer Hunter (1978).  Drama following a group of steelworker friends from their peaceful lives in

    Pittsburgh to the Vietnam War.  Stars Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken.

    (Academy Award winner)

Full Metal Jacket (1987).  A squad of Marine grunts fight the battle of Hue City during the climactic

    1968 Tet Offensive.  Stanley Kubrick directed.

Good Morning Vietnam (1987).  Tells the story of an American disc jockey assigned to U.S. Armed

    Forces Radio in Vietnam.  Stars Robin Williams.

Go Tell the Spartans (1978).  Tells the story of an American advisory group in Vietnam in 1964.  Stars

    Burt Lancaster.

The Green Berets (1968).  Pro-Vietnam Conflict film telling the story of battles against the Viet Cong.

    Stars John Wayne.

Hamburger Hill (1987).  A bloody, violent account of the struggle by American forces to secure a

    particular hill in Vietnam.  Stars Dylan McDermott and Michael Boatman.

The Hanoi Hilton  (1987).  American captives in Hanoi’s Hao Lo Prison survive turbulent years as


Heaven and Earth (1998).  Dramatizes the memoirs of Le Ly Haylip, tracing her life from Vietnam to

    the U.S. Directed by Oliver Stone.  Stars Tommy Lee Jones.

The Killing Fields (1984).  The story of a survivor of the Khmer Rouge brutality in Cambodia from 1978-    1979.  Stars Sam Waterson.  While not specifically about the Vietnam Conflict, this movie does

    show the aftermath of such bitter conflict.

Platoon (1988).  Focuses on daily experience of infantry soldiers.  Stars Willem Dafoe and Charlie

    Sheen.  (Academy Award winner).

To Heal a Nation (1992).  Chronicles Jan Scruggs’ efforts to build a Vietnam Veterans Memorial   Stars

    Eric Roberts.

Uncommon Valor (1983).   An MIA rescue adventure film.  Stars Robert Stack and Gene Hackman.

Who’ll Stop the Rain? (1978)  Explores the aftermath of the war and adjustment to civilian life.  Stars

    Nick Nolte and Tuesday Weld.



The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).  An epic film based on the true story of prisoners of war in 1943

    forced to build the Bangkok-Rangoon railway bridge over the Kwai River in the Burma-Thailand


A Bridge Too Far (1977).  A daring allied attempt to capture a Dutch bridge from the Germans is

    loaded with problems.

Enemy at the Gates (2001).  Two Russian and German snipers play a game of cat-and-mouse during the

    Battle of Stalingrad.

Memphis Belle (1943).  This film is a war documentary produced by one of the “Hollywood Colonels,”

    William Wyler, who joined the Air Force Film unit and recorded the sights and sounds of the last

    mission of a B-17 bomber known as the Memphis Belle, named after the girlfriend of the pilot.  The

    men and plane were filmed during the bombing raid on the submarine pens in Wilhelmhafen,


Saving Private Ryan (1998).  The plot is inspired in part by the true story of Fritz, Niland, one of four

    brothers from New York state who saw action during the war.  Two Niland brothers were killed on

    D-Day, while another went missing in action in Burma and was presumed dead, although he

    actually survived.  Fritz was located in Normandy by an Army chaplain, Reverend Francis

    Sampson, and taken out of the combat zone.

U-571 (2001).  This film is a fictional account of the capture of a German submarine in 1942 by an

    American crew, but is based on the historical reality of the Battle of the Atlantic and the secret

    capture of the Enigma cipher machine from German boats.

The Longest Day (1962).  A pre-Vietnam era film on the D-Day invasion.  The war scenes are very

    “sanitized” vs. some of the later war films.

Tora Tora Tora (1970).  This three-hour epic cost $25 million and told a fairly accurate bi-national story

    that included equal time for the Japanese and the American viewpoints, but neglected the political

    context of the China War and isolationism.

To Hell and Back (1955).  This is Audie Murphy’s life story.  He joins the army at the age of 18 and through the course of the war is decorated for valor nine times, thus becoming the most decorated combat soldier in World War II.

The Great Escape (1963).  Steve McQueen plays an American soldier imprisoned in a German POW

    camp during World War II.  McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Garner, and James Coburn are

    prisoners who help Sir Richard Attenborough plan a large-scale breakout.


*NOTE:  These videos may have ratings not acceptable to your standards, or those of your family.  You need to apply your own family’s standards and check with your parents before deciding to view one of these films.  Portions of this list (and the descriptions) are from “Vietnam:  Echoes from the Wall,” published by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial fund (1999).


Revised 08/25/2008  


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