A product of the times...
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 07/17/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This video is a fascinating time capsule, with The DUKE front and center.A slanted, hard-right view of where we stood in Vietnam in 1970, and what should be done to win, this film is more heavily in favor of all-out war than a flock of hawks.DUKE hosts a strange look at the history of Communism as the film seeks to explain why we were in Vietnam, why we were not winning, and why we should continue the war at all costs, in this failed attempt to turn public opinion.The film itself is an odd mixture of stiff, 50s-60s style documentaries, far-right flag-waving propaganda, while similar in visual style and pacing to 1970's pseudo-science documentaries like "The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena" or "The Jupiter Menace". Also interesting to note are the old "noose-style" microphones on DUKE and the interviewees, which further dates the film.The 70 minute film is full of many interesting (although highly biased), interviews, including cameos by newsman Lowell Thomas, USO personality Martha Raye, and famous singing soldier Barry Sadler (of "Ballad of the Green Berets" fame).An attempt at a documentary-style polictical pursuasion film, the propaganda value in "No Substitute for Victory" is pretty high. The film manages to raise the spectre of the 1950's Red Scare quite effectively for 1970. I would imagine many of the older folks who watched this at the time were in complete agreement with DUKE and the other interviewees after they saw this. Most telling is that, other than the two or three who were in the military, there are no young people interviewed. The majority of the "cast" depicted are well over forty (some peaceniks in full hippie regalia are shown, however). This makes the film a great subject for study in Political Science, History, or Communication courses, not only because it is so heavy-handed in propaganda, but because the film unintentionally highlights the great divide that existed between the gererations of the day. On the other hand, some of the hard-right fears were realized. Politicians did interfere in our ability to wage the Vietnam War. There was an almost constant waste of the lives of American soldiers and demoralization of the troops because of it. Simply leaving Vietnam did not bring an instant peace, and once the U.S. pulled out, there were massacres throughout the region. Our prestige on the world stage did suffer, and the feeling of defeat did permeate America for years.However the film, for all its documentation of facts (real or imagined), comes off as rather naive in the idea that we could have won simply by dropping more bombs. DUKE was known as a hawk on the Vietnam war, and like most hawks probably did not understand why this war was different in nature than World War 2. His frustration over the events of the day is evident throughout the course of the film.Still, the film is pretty honest, at least from the perspective of the far right. While pushing for an expansion of the war effort, the film honestly portrays the reasons why the hawks felt we should do so, and what we had done wrong in waging the conflict up to that point. Given the prestige of some of the commanders and soldiers interviewed, this comes off as more than Monday-morning quarterbacking, even when viewed through the lens of thirty-plus years of history.The quality of the transfer is not too bad, but not as crisp as it could be, hence my four-star instead of five-star rating. It was transferred in SP, so the production people get points for that.An intersting product of the time in which it was made, "No Substitute For Victory" is a relatively inexpensive historical text of political sentiments in 1970. It should not be missed by anyone interested in the era or the Vietnam War."
Interesting, little known documentary of the Vietnam War era
Bobby Dillard | Indiana, USA | 07/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some curious reason, the Vietnam War was largely absent from US cultural outlets like cinema, comic books, television shows, etc. even though it was one of the most important issues of the time. In the movies, only two films actually dealt with Vietnam as a primary focus when the war was still raging. The two were To the Shores of Hell (1964) and The Green Berets (1968). Both films were pro-US and pro-US involvement in Vietnam. Perhaps it was fitting that the fellow (John Wayne) involved with bringing to the silver screen the most well-known of the two Vietnam films (The Green Berets) was also responsible for the documentary that argued not only for the US effort in Vietnam but also for victory. In this film, Wayne calls upon several military veterans of the Vietnam War as well as generals who had experience with communist countries and communist enemies to make the point that the US has dealt with communist lands with kid gloves and hasn't had the political will to win in hot wars with them. To make this case, Wayne goes from the aftermath of WWII in showing how the US slowed down in taking territory and let the Soviets go into Berlin and Eastern Europe. (Incidentally, it is here where Wayne is on his weakest ground.) Admittedly, the US slow down allowed Stalin's USSR to plant the Red Banner further in the West. The US could've marched further east to make sure more people didn't fall under the communist banner. However, the US would have likely taken many more casualties, certainly more in taking Berlin which cost the Soviets about 500,000. Wayne makes a stronger case against the mistake of not supporting Chiang Kai-Shek in China against the communists as well as the insanity of bombing restrictions in the Korean War such as not bombing the Yalu River bridges, not hitting targets in China, etc. In Vietnam, Wayne makes a compelling argument that the "fighting with one hand tied behind the back" approach to was being used by the US. Many areas were placed off limits to US airpower and naval might such as Haiphong Harbor. On top of this, it is pointed out that the war was micromanaged from Washington and that targets had to be approved. (LBJ famously opined that the US couldn't "bomb an outhouse" without his approval.) This took time and sometimes the approval never came. Wayne further makes the overwhelming case that bringing the other side to the peace table cannot be done with bombing halts, only through massive strength. He has a former Korean War general to make this case and also points out that bombing halts didn't spur the North Vietnamese efforts for peace. (Indeed, Nixon in 1972 used city bombing to bring the North Vietnamese back to the peace table.) Overall, quite a bit of what the documentary warned about came to pass. After the US pull-out, Laos, South Vietnam, and Cambodia fell to the communists, and bloodbaths did result, especially in Cambodia with the deaths of 2 million people. Other predictions, though, (communist insugency in Australia, for example) did not. Far from Wayne having "blood on his hands" as some would say, Wayne accurately depicted communist aggression throughout the world and demanded from the US a will to win against it. Even with the technical problems that the film has, it still is an important piece of Cold War history."
John Wayne at his Best
Philip A Crocker | Salem, OR United States | 04/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Wayne tells (told) it like it was. For those of us who had first hand knowledge of this subject can not help but give this video a big 5 stars. You may not agree with everything John Wayne did or stood for but at least he had the guts to put his career on the line for what he thought important. How many of the Hollywood crowd stood up for those of us in uniform during these trying times.Watch & listen carefully and you will see who John Wayne really was."
"We must speak up and take a stand. Only then will this grea
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 07/22/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For those old enough to remember, no matter which side of the issue you were on during America's Vietnam decade, the Hawks and Doves all had legitimate points to make about the conduct of this war and our country's presence in Indochina. John Wayne and an impressive group of authorities make a strong pro-war case in NO SUBSTITUTE FOR VICTORY (1970) that's based on the series of 20th Century events which culminated in the sending of U.S. personnel to Vietnam, first as advisors and then an active military force. They also present evidence that our government was unwilling to commit to total victory.
The all-important (and controversial) Tonkin Gulf incident that provided LBJ a basis for dispatching troops to South Vietnam is mentioned but not explored in depth. Regardless, years of guerilla attacks in the south perpetrated by Ho Chi Mihn's forces upon villagers, police and individual members of local governments needed to be addressed. The debate will always be whether Americans had to take up this burden. If you accept the premise in JFK's 1961 inaugural "...that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe..." then the answer is yes.
Things get heavy when Duke berates anti-war protesters who "burn the American flag, stamp it into the ground while waving the flag of the Viet Cong..." He labels them "members of the enemy's forces." In hindsight, such inflammatory language may have caused the concerned youth this film was in part addressing to tune out its entire message.
This mostly temperate and well presented 73 minute argument for a vigorous prosecution of the war is outstanding in its use of now rare film clips, plus the comments and reminiscences of newsman Lowell Thomas, Gen. Mark Clark, Gen. Albert Weidermeyer, Gen. Paul Harkins, Sgt. Barry Sadler, Adm. U.S. Grant Sharp, Wayne himself and others. Sharp's strategic analysis of a military hamstrung by government policy rings true, yet with both Red China and the USSR interested in the struggle's outcome, was victory in Vietnam ever really possible? We'll of course never know.
Recommended for all interested in American mid-20th Century political and/or military history."