The Odd Angry Shot (1979) 



Director:  Tom Jeffery

Starring:  Graham Kennedy (Harry), John Hargreaves, John Jarratt (Bill), Bryan Brown, Graeme Blundell, Richard Moir, Ian Gilmour, Graham Rouse, John Allen, Tony Barry

Australians fight in the Vietnam War



Historical Background:


During the Vietnam War, all Australian recruits (volunteers and draftees) went through four weeks of specialized training at the Jungle Warfare Training Centre in Canungra, Queensland, Australia.  The movie was also filmed there.  Provides interesting comparison between the experiences of the American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War.

The experiences of the Americans and the Australians.  Of course, the Australians do not have the problem of different races, but otherwise so much is the same.  The Special Services troops take a commercial jet liner trip to Vietnam.  They have a base camp where there are lots of amenities; they almost commute to "work" going and coming back by helicopter and back out the next day; they comment on the problem of not knowing who is the enemy and who is the civilian; and the troops are counting the days to the completion of just one year of tour of duty in Vietnam. 

And the attitudes are very similar.  Like the Americans, the Australians complain that the people back home don't really care about them; tension within the ranks with the prospects of a decline in morale that may lead to a moral breakdown (with the troops then not taking risks because there is no reason to); the cynical suspicion that politicians will use them to win elections without really being of service to the vets; and the frustration over taking certain objectives just to be called back and have them fall again to the enemy.

The movie is just o.k.  It is nice to know that the experiences of the Americans and Australians were so similar, but the movie itself isn't that great.  It is more a film dealing with a slice of life.  There is no real plot, so you don't really identify with any of the characters, of which there are too many.   The two main characters, Harry (Graham Kennedy) and Bill (John Jarratt), are not really that "main."  Harry is the older man in the troop, who joined the army after his wife started having an affair. And Bill's girlfriend doesn't write and then when she doesn't she drops him.  And that's about all that we know about the guys. 

It was also interesting to see that the Australians acted cruder than the Americans.  They were all too ready to accept fist fighting as natural; heh, but that's damaging government property.  And they were too willing to get into a brawl with the American troops, following a death match between a scorpion and a large spider (a cruelty that I found disturbing).  


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




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