The Boys in Company C

The Boys in Company C is a 1978 war film directed by Sidney J. Furie about United States Marine Corps recruits preparing for duty, and their subsequent combat in the Vietnam War.[1] It stars Stan Shaw, Andrew Stevens, Craig Wasson, and Michael Lembeck. It was among the first Vietnam War films to appear after the Vietnam Era, and was also the first role for R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame.[2] It is the first in Furie's Vietnam War motion picture trilogy, followed by Under Heavy Fire (2001) and The Veteran (2006).

The Boys in Company C
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySidney J. Furie
Produced byAndre Morgan
Written bySidney J. Furie
Rick Natkin
Starring
Music byJaime Mendoza-Nava
CinematographyGodfrey A. Godar
Edited byFrank J. Urioste
Production
company
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
February 2, 1978
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Hong Kong
LanguageEnglish

The film was a co-production of Golden Harvest and Columbia Pictures, the latter originally handling theatrical distribution. It was filmed in the Philippines.

Wasson plays guitar and sings the theme song "Here I Am", used within the film and over the end credits.

Plot

In August 1967, a group of boys arrive at the USMC induction center. They include hippie and draft dodger Dave Brisbee, who is delivered in handcuffs by FBI agents. The other inductees include hardened drug dealer Tyrone Washington, naive and unassuming Billy Ray Pike, streetwise New Yorker Vinnie Fazio and mild-mannered aspiring writer Alvin Foster. Foster begins writing a journal detailing his experiences.

The five boys go through boot camp together. The training is dehumanizing and brutal, designed to make them think and act in unison. Washington's leadership skills flourish and he is promoted to squad leader. The five are then assigned to the same unit and shipped to Vietnam; as their ship docks, the shelling begins. Vietnam is a bewildering chaos: bureaucratic incompetence, callous officers concerned only with monthly "body counts," and the constant threat of death. Their first firefight occurs while they are taking "vital supplies" to an army outpost. Those supplies turn out to be crates of cigarettes, liquor, and furniture being sent to a general for his birthday; two men die in the fighting. Indeed, the officers in Company C are mostly incompetents who endanger the lives of their men through blind adherence to rules or timetables; their nervous Marines open fire on anyone and anything at the slightest provocation.

In January 1968, Company C is ordered by their Commanding Officer to throw a soccer game against a team of South Vietnamese, in order to bolster the morale of their ally. The Americans are told that, if they lose, they will see no more combat; if they win, they will be sent to Khe Sanh. Despite everything, the Americans win. The game ends with a Vietcong attack, during which Foster heroically throws himself on a grenade to save some children.

The film concludes with the final entry in Foster's journal, written moments before his death: "...I've decided to give up writing this journal, because I don't know who'd believe it after today. We had a chance to go home, and we blew it off for a soccer game...I guess we'll just keep on walking into one bloody mess after another, until somebody figures out that living has got to be more important than winning."[3]

Cast

  • Stan Shaw as Tyrone Washington
  • Andrew Stevens as Billy Ray Pike
  • James Canning as Alvin Foster
  • Michael Lembeck as Vinnie Fazio
  • Craig Wasson as Dave Bisbee
  • Scott Hylands as Captain Collins
  • James Whitmore, Jr. as Lieutenant Archer
  • Noble Willingham as Sergeant Curry
  • Lee Ermey as Sergeant Loyce, Junior Drill Instructor; he is later promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant and succeeds Aquilla as Senior Drill Instructor.
  • Santos Morales as Staff Sergeant Aquilla, Senior Drill Instructor
  • Drew Michaels as Colonel Metcalf
  • Karen Hilger as Betsy
  • Peggy O'Neal as Nancy Bisbee
  • Claude Wilson as Roy Foster
  • Chuck Doherty as George Pike
  • Cisco Oliver as Spoon
  • Stan Johns as Receiving Sergeant
  • Don Bell as Junior Drill Instructor
  • Bob Mallett as Hank
  • Parris Hicks as Oates
  • Frederick Matthews as Corporal Spaulding
  • Logan Clarke as Bortz
  • Ray Wagner as Sutton
  • Duane Mercier as War Games Lieutenant
  • Noel Kramer as Colonel Beuford
  • Fred Smithson as Brig Lieutenant
  • Eazy Black as Short Arm Inspection Sergeant
  • Rick Natkin as Soldier at Long Khe
  • Helen McNeely as Head Nurse
  • Charles Waters as Escort Officer
  • Ken Metcalfe as Major Royal
  • Vic Diaz as Colonel Trang
  • Jose Mari Avellana as Colonel Dong
  • Victor Pinzon as Armed Forces Radio Announcer
  • Michael Cohen as General Sloan

Nominations

Andrew Stevens was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Acting Debut – Male (1979)

Home media

This film has been issued numerous times on video through the decades since its release, first in-house via Columbia Pictures, and later through other companies as certain ancillary rights changed hands (it ended up becoming part of the library of ITC Entertainment). Today, the major rights are with independent film company Fortune Star Media, who also now holds the film's copyright, with distribution by Hen's Tooth under license.

References

  1. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:The Boys in Company C
  2. According to Andrew Stevens on the DVD commentary, Ermey was discovered by the director, Furie
  3. Hyams, Jay. "War Movies" (1984)
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