September 11, 1978 12:00 PM

Relatively inconspicuous in the Vietnam war film derby, this is the best entry so far, thanks largely to the commanding presence of Burt Lancaster, here starring in his 60th film. He plays a crusty Army major in the early days of U.S. involvement who sees nothing but disaster at the end of the tunnel and can’t do anything about it. His immediate problem is rescuing a bunch of raw recruits from an outpost about to be overrun by the Viet Cong (played by Vietnamese refugees) There are the usual military stereotypes: the burned-out sergeant (Jonathan Goldsmith) whom the youngsters look to for leadership, the dumb play-it-by-the-book lieutenant (Joe Unger) and the naive draftee (Craig Wasson) who learns the true meaning of heroism under fire. The script wobbles a little when it goes in for cheap antiwar rhetoric, but director Ted Post (Magnum Force, episodes of TV’s Twilight Zone and Columbo) has given an authentic feeling to the film, a feeling of pain. (R)

You May Like