The Hanoi Hilton

  • 1987
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama, War

Ostensibly an ode to the brave Americans who suffered torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese behind the walls of Hanoi's dreaded Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton, this film is really blatant right-wing propaganda loaded with a stunning amount of racial and political stereotypes. Set in the prison from 1964 to 1975, the story concerns...read more

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Ostensibly an ode to the brave Americans who suffered torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese behind the walls of Hanoi's dreaded Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton, this film is really blatant right-wing propaganda loaded with a stunning amount of racial and political

stereotypes. Set in the prison from 1964 to 1975, the story concerns a group of mostly American officer pilots, a tough, resolute bunch headed by Col. Cathcart (Lawrence Pressman), a by-the-book type who insists that military order and protocol be maintained despite the humiliation and torture

inflicted upon his men. The prison commandant, Maj. Ngo Doc (Aki Aleong, whose performance recalls the stereotyped vindictiveness of such Hollywood WW II villains as Philip Ahn and Richard Loo), resolves to break the colonel and puts him through excruciating torture. Cathcart is traumatized into a

zombielike state, and leadership falls to Navy flier Lt. Comdr. Williamson (Michael Moriarty). He tries to continue with Cathcart's rigid code of honor, but others, such as the easygoing Hubman (Paul LeMat), are more vulnerable, and begin to confess acts and offer information they consider of

negligible interest to the North Vietnamese. The horror inflicted upon them is almost nonstop over many years, although it ceases briefly when an American, ultraliberal, political activist actress (Gloria Carlin, obviously doing Jane Fonda) comes to Hanoi convinced the Communists are correct in

their tactics and tries to get the prisoners to cooperate with them. Aside from the erratic Moriarty--a study in and of himself--there is little character development among the prisoners, who are typecast in roles that have been seen many times over in scores of POW films, from THE PURPLE HEART to

STALAG 17. There is no relief from their misery, until the surviving prisoners are finally packed aboard a plane at war's end and sent back home; director Lionel Chetwynd seems to be trying to impress upon the audience the shifts between boredom and terror that were a way of life for the POWs, but

he is too mundane a filmmaker to do so without making his film repetitive and boring.

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  • Released: 1987
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Ostensibly an ode to the brave Americans who suffered torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese behind the walls of Hanoi's dreaded Hoa Lo Prison, better known as the Hanoi Hilton, this film is really blatant right-wing propaganda loaded with a stunning… (more)

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