Welcome to “Arts of War,” Vietnam Veterans of America’s up-to-the-minute compendium of information, news and reviews about the arts—movies, television, stage plays, musicals, music, dance, popular and fine arts, and more—that deal with Vietnam veterans and the Vietnam War.
This web page replaces the “Arts of War” column that ran in Vietnam Veterans of America’s national magazine, The VVA Veteran, from 1986-2009. That popular column was written by The VVA Veteran’s arts editor, Marc Leepson, who continues that work on this web site.
We encourage feedback. Please email your comments, questions, and suggestions to email@example.com
Posted on January 28th 2009 in Comments
A unique collection of war posters collected and curated by Tukufu Zuberi, a University of Pennsylvania professor, will open on June 2 at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The exhibition, titled “Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” will run through March 2, 2014. Veterans will receive $2 off the admission price, and active-duty military personnel will receive free Museum admission during the run of this special exhibition.
The exhibition is made up of thirty-three posters, most of which are aimed at Africans and African-American civilians. The posters were aimed at mobilizing people of color to support America’s wars, even as they faced oppression and injustice at home.
“These posters tell a story about the dynamics of race,” Zuberi–who regularly appears on the PBS-TV show History Detectives–says. “Black bodies are racialized in these posters as they capture defining moments in history. Race is always about second-class citizenship, it is always about a relationship between two groups and how one group is defined as superior and the other group is defined as inferior. These posters represent definitive moments in this historical process.”
Penn Museum is located at 3260 South Street in Philadelphia on Penn’s campus, across from Franklin Field. Museum hours are Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Posted on May 15th 2013 in Art Exhibits
The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument held its groundbreaking ceremonies on Monday, March 25. The monument, which will honor the service of Texans who served in the military during the Vietnam War—including the 3,417 who died in service—will have a prominent place on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin.
The day before the groundbreaking, scores of volunteers participated in a Reading of the Names of the 3,417 at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum. The volunteer readers included President Johnson’s daughters Luci Baines Johnson and Lynda Johnson Robb, several Texas lawmakers, and many veterans and family members of those who died.
At the groundbreaking ceremony itself a container carrying personalized, hand-embossed dog tags for each of the 3,4176 was entombed. Journalist and author Joe Galloway, a Texas native who received the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award in 1999, delivered the Keynote address.
The monument itself, designed by New Mexico sculptor Duke Sundt, is in the final stages of production. The 14-foot tall bronze monument (below) will feature five infantry figures posed atop an eight-sided base depicting scenes in bas relief. “They represent diversity,” said Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Committee Chairman Robert Floyd. “It will be the first monument to represent diversity: a Hispanic-American, African-American, Asian, Native-American and Caucasian.”
The monument will be unveiled in February 2014.
Posted on May 15th 2013 in Memorials
Charlie Haughey was drafted into the Army in 1967, and went on to serve as a rifleman with the 25th Infantry Division in and around Cu Chi in Vietnam from 1968-69. In Vietnam he had a second job: taking pictures of his battalion for Army and civilian newspapers. Haughey, a retired cabinet maker, brought some 2,000 negatives back home with him after the war. He kept them in a box stored away in his home.
Haughey (above, with camera, in Vietnam) opened the box for the first time last year and found that the work had a strong immediacy in 2013. More than two dozen of his images are part of an exhibit of his work at the ADX Gallery in Portland, Oregon.
More of the images—such as the one below—are on view on Haughey’s pages on Flickr and Tublr. You can also see his work on Facebook.
Posted on May 1st 2013 in Photography
Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) is best known for his three war films: Steel Helmet (1951), one of the first Hollywood movies about the Korean War; China Gate (1957), one of the first dealing with the French war in Indochina; and The Big Red One (1980), a semi-autobiographical World War II pic. Fuller served as an infantryman in North Africa and Europe with the First Infantry Division in the war.
Fuller was known for his low budget films and for including plenty of graphic violence in his war movies. That’s the case in China Gate, which he produced, wrote, and directed, and which recently was released in Blu-ray by Olive Films in DVD.
Set in northern Vietnam in 1954, the decidedly anti-communist movie tells the story of a Eurasian bar girl played by the heavily made-up Angie Dickinson (below) and her quest to get her half American son out of the country as the French are about to be defeated. To do so, she volunteers to lead a mission of French Legionairres (which includes her the father of her son who disavowed him because of his Asian features) to the China Gate after a French officer tells her that once they get there, he can smuggle the boy out of Vietnam.
“Passionately, urgently anti-racist,” New York Times critic Dave Kehr wrote, “the film features Caucasian actors in its two most prominent Asian roles. Appearing with Ms. Dickinson is Lee Van Cleef as a cruel and cynical Viet Minh officer.”
Posted on April 18th 2013 in Feature Films, On DVD
Open Road Integrated Media is an on-line digital publisher that also offers multimedia content, such as video and social media pages, along with their e books.
The site contains a growing number of Vietnam War- related books. That list includes the William Broyles’ recently re-released memoir, now titled Goodbye Vietnam, better known as Brothers in Arms, the first—and the best—”going back toVietnam” books.
Also on the site are Doug Bradley’s collection of short stories, DEROS Vietnam: Dispatches from the Air-Conditioned Jungle ; Allen Clark’s Valor in Vietnam; Kenn Miller’s novel, Tiger the LURP Dog; and Oscar Gilbert’s Marine Tanks in Battle in Vietnam.
More Vietnam War-related titles (and videos) are being released almost on a daily basis.
Posted on April 17th 2013 in Arts on the Web, Book News
The first episode of the new series “Locked Up Abroad” airs on Wednesday evening at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel. Titled “Vietnam POWs: McCain and Brace,” it looks at the bonds formed by two long-held Vietnam War prisoners of war.
One was John McCain, the former Navy aviator who was shot down over Hanoi in October of 1967 and who later gained national fame as a Congressman, Senator, and Republican Party presidential candidate. The other is one of the lesser-known Vietnam War POWs, civilian pilot Ernie Brace, a former Marine Corps Korean War pilot who was working for the CIA when he was shot down over Laos in May of 1965 and held for nearly eight years.
Both men suffered extreme privations while held prisoner by the North Vietnamese. They formed a bond when they were held in solitary confinement in adjoining cells for most of the five years McCain was held prisoner.
Posted on April 16th 2013 in Documentaries, On TV
Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall has just been named the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History.
Read John Prados’s review from the November/December 2012 print edition of The VVA Veteran.
Posted on April 15th 2013 in Book News
Mitzi Sinnott’s award-winning, one-person play, SNAPSHOT: A True story of Love Interrupted by Invasion, will be running in Los Angeles at the Greenway Court Theatre starting this Thursday, April 4, and going through Sunday, April 21.
In her show, Sinnott tells her life story using her own words, as well as dance, music, and film. The main thread is Sinnott’s quest to come to terms with her absent father who left for the Vietnam War before she was born.
All veterans will be given free tickets to the shows during the opening week. To do so, use the code “veteran” when ordering tickets on line.
For more info on the show, go to Sinnott’s website or take a look at the YouTube trailer.
Posted on April 1st 2013 in Drama, On Stage
The initial reviews of Love & Honor—a new Hollywood movie staring Liam Hemsworth of The Hunger Games about two Vietnam War infantrymen who manage to come home to Michigan in the middle of their tour in 1969 to surprise one guy’s girlfriend—are in. They are not good. Here’s a sampling:
The Huffington Post: “a misguided, overly mushy film… an unrealistic view of the Vietnam era.”
Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News: “The 1960s never looked so clean and scrubbed of character as they do in this cross-cultural love story…. Hemsworth has presence, but he also represents this film’s biggest problem: It feels like a bunch of good-looking kids putting on a show.”
Lou Lumenick in the New York Post: ”The political passions that roiled 1969 America get boiled down to Nicholas Sparks-style mush in this silly romantic drama, seemingly designed primarily to offer up the shirtless, non-period-authentic abs of Liam Hemsworth as often as possible.”
Nicolas Rapold in The New York Times: ”Set during the Vietnam War, this trifle about two soldiers who sneak away to America while on leave unfolds in a world about as realistic as a flashback on a sitcom. The film dresses up pretty young things in fatigues and retro T-shirts for a story so clichéd and brainless that it’s almost more disturbing than laughable…. The performances dissolve instantly in the mind without a trace, though during speeches Mr. Hemsworth has the faraway look of someone remembering his lines.”
Posted on March 27th 2013 in Feature Films
Tuan Tran, a middle school student at Diplomat Middle School in Cape Coral, Florida, is working on a history fair project called “The End of Vietnam War and its Impact on Immigrants and America.”
“I am searching for a Vietnam veteran who can provide me with some time for an interview,” the student told us in an email. “If you are a Vietnam veteran or know of someone who was involved in Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Baby Lift, or the Fall of Saigon please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on March 20th 2013 in Artistic Queries