The Boys in Company C (1978)

R. Lee Ermey,Andrew Stevens,Craig Wasson,Noble Willingham
August 1967Five young men arrive at boot camp somewhere in the USA among a bus load of other U.S. Marine recruits for Company C for their induction into the Vietnam War. The five young men make up of: Tyrone Washington (Stan Shaw), an African American drug dealer from Chicago, Illinois; Billy Ray Pike (Andrew Stevens), a volunteer from Galveston, Texas; Alvin Foster (James Canning), an aspiring writer from Emporia, Kansas; Vinnie Fazio (Michael Lembeck) a street punk from Brooklyn, New York; and Dave "Jesus" Bisbee (Craig Wasson), a hippie war protester from Seattle, Washington. Alvin keeps a journal of his experience with the hope of being published some day and befriends Vinnie on the bus to training camp.As the men are processed, all of their personal possessions (wallets, house keys, cigarettes, knifes, etc.) are confiscated, but Vinnie smuggles out Alvin's notebook and returns it to him. Alvin hopes to see combat so he can write about it. Once in the barracks, Tyrone warns the others to leave him alone.The next morning, training begins. Drill Sergeant Aquilla (Santos Morales) informs the recruits that if they do not ignore their racial prejudices and learn to rely on each other, they will not survive long in Vietnam. During training, Aquilla chastises Tyrone for not being a team player. Later, Vinnie notices some pretty girls and sneaks away. Billy also slips away to meet his girlfriend Betsy (Karen Hilger) who tells him she is pregnant. Billy encourages her to get an abortion because they are not ready to become parents.Back at training camp, Dave is shot in the arm as he attempts to desert and Alvin is accused of writing anti-American and anti-war propaganda; Vinnie, Billy, Dave and Alvin are sent to the brig for punishment. Their four replacements are racists and harass Tyrone, but when he complains to Sergeant Loyce (R. Lee Ermy), he is ordered to be cooperative because Loyce believes the young man's "street smarts" make him a natural leader. Loyce promises to bring Vinnie, Alvin, Dave and Billy back and transfer the racists out of the unit if Tyrone agrees to lead the company.In October, by the time training ends, Marine Company C has become a strong team and is assigned to Vietnam. Before they depart, Tyrone calls a drug dealer friend with a plan to smuggle back heroin. On their way to Vietnam, the soldiers meet their new commander, Captain Collins (Scott Hylands), who uses soccer to convey how the Viet Cong think.The company is under an enemy artillery attack as soon as their ship lands in Cam Ran Bay, South Vietnam and Collins volunteers the soldiers for a convoy to transport urgent materials to a field general. During the convoy, the company falls under an ambush attack by unseen Viet Cong and two men are killed and several more are wounded. When Dave is outraged to discover the "urgent" materials are cigarettes, liquor, food and other luxury goods, Collins insists he was not aware of their transport.The company makes it to the general's base and is rewarded with 24 hours R&R leave. As Vinnie and Alvin seek prostitutes, Billy is offered heroin by fellow soldiers and Tyrone talks to locals, hoping to find a drug dealing connection, but he is caught by the local military police and brought to Vietnamese Colonel Dong (Jose Mari Avellana), who accuses him of trafficking heroin. Dong is a drug trafficker himself and when he suggests that he and Tyrone become partners, Tyrone reveals his idea to smuggle the drugs in the body bags of dead soldiers.Later, Tyrone finds Billy overdosing on heroin and nurses him back to health, but he later berates his friend and fears he will put the company in danger. Meanwhile, Dave blows up the general's trailer of luxury goods as revenge. A little later, Vinnie discovers he has contracted a venereal disease from the local prostitutes and wonders why Alvin did not.When Company C is sent back into the combat area to replace another battalion, Captain Collins announces that the military's priority is obtaining a high body count of Viet Cong. In his effort to achieve the highest body count, Collins puts his troops in unnecessary danger, but is easy on Billy, because he is a great soccer player. Resentful, Tyrone disobeys Collins's orders during another Viet Cong attack but still manages to save the day. However, Collins punishes Tyrone by forcing him to lead his men into a dangerous rice paddy. There, Tyrone steps on a pressure release landmine and freezes in fear. Billy helps extricate Tyrone by replacing his weight with ammunition boxes. They both escape uninjured, but Tyrone is furious.One day, the company comes under another ambush attack by unseen Viet Cong on a river crossing bridge. When the enemy departs, the insane Collins orders an artillery attack on a village but Dave refuses to follow his order out of his worry of killing local civilians. Collins' more level-headed and sympathetic second in command, Lieutenant Archer (James Whitmore Jr.), sides with Dave and thinks it is unnecessary to launch any attack with poor knowledge of the area or about the enemy. Eager to increase his body count, Collin leads the attack himself; however, they discover only women and children in the village. Finding a young boy with a baseball, Billy starts an impromptu game.A little later, Colonel Trang (Vic Diaz) and Major Royal (Ken Metcalfe) interrogate the boy and promise Billy that they will not harm him, but after the company leaves the village, the men hear the boy screaming as he is shot to death. Furious, Billy announces he will never play soccer for Collins, provoking the Captain to punish Billy and Dave by reassigning them to patrol the mine-filled rice paddies.Later back at the fire base, Vinnie realizes Alvin never had sex with the prostitutes, and accuses his friend of being homosexual.Fed up with Collins, Tyrone reports a fake Viet Cong sighting and lures Collins out of his tent so he can kill the Captain under the pretense of "friendly fire," but Archer stops Tyrone from shooting Collins and risk being court martialed and executed.Later, Colonel Trang finds Tyrone to discuss his drug smuggling proposition; however Tyrone is no longer interested and pretends Trang found the wrong man.Some time later in January 1968, Company C is sent to destroy an alleged Viet Cong technical operation center and Collins stays behind. During the attack, Alvin is injured by another unseen Viet Cong sniper and taken away by a medical helicopter, leaving Vinnie shaken. Archer soon realizes that Company C is being used as bait to draw out enemy fire, giving the artillery an excuse to counter attack and obtain a higher body count; he reports a false Viet Cong attack while he and the troops relax on the beach as they watch the bombing of an empty hill for several hours.When Tyrone complains about Collin's obsession with forming a soccer team, Archer explains that Collin's plan is to create a military team that will boost morale. If they can put together a winning team, they can leave combat. Tyrone tells Archer they need to get Billy back because he is their best player. Meanwhile, Billy and Dave have befriended local villagers. Billy agrees to play when he gets a letter from his girlfriend Betsy, who informs him she kept their baby, because now he has something to live for.At the climax, Collins organizes a soccer tournament with a local Vietnamese team. Dave brings some of the village children to watch. Company C names their team the "Muthus." Alvin, recovering from his injury, shows up to watch. When the Muthus gain the lead, Colonel Trang complains to General Sloan (Michael Cohen), claiming that it will hurt the country's morale if the Vietnamese lose. Sloan decides that it will be more politically advantageous to let the Vietnamese team win and orders the Muthus to throw the game. They follow orders at first, but Billy can't bear to lose. The Muthus win the game just as the Viet Cong attack. In the confusion of the battle, Collins is killed by enemy mortar fire, and Dave dies while avenging the death of the children he brought to the game by killing Colonal Trang, but gets killed himself by Trang's bodyguards.As the attack comes to an end, Alvin sacrifices himself by throwing himself on an enemy grenade to protect other children. Vinnie and the others are shell-shocked but do not have time to mourn. With Collins dead, Archer takes over command of the company and orders them to rally because they are being sent back to combat for disobeying orders. Before they leave, Tyrone arranges for Billy to be sent home, claiming Billy has a head injury. The film ends with Tyrone and Vinnie rounding up what is left of the company and they all march off the soccer field and back into the combat zone to their new fire base location... which happens to be Khe Sanh.In some versions, the ending closes with a series of texts which say that on January 30, 1968, Company C arrived at Khe Sanh just as the Tet Offensive began and the siege of the forward operating base was well underway.Out of 110 original members of Company C, 43 were killed in action during the three-month siege of Khe Sanh, including Tyrone Washington who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.51 others were wounded, including Vinnie Fazio who is permanently confided to the local V.A. hospital in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California.Lt. Archer and two other members of Company C were listed as missing in action.Billy Ray Pike, one of three deserters, left the U.S. Naval Hospital in Da Nang and made his way to Canada where he currently lives with his wife and son.On March 21, 1968, a replacement U.S. Marine company was air lifted from Camp Pendleton, California and relieved what was left of Company C which officially ceased to exist as an active unit in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • 02 Feb 1978 Released:
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