Larry Ratliff, San Antonio Express-News (found via Lexis Nexis)
`If "Army sucks" spelled out with tape on an Army helmet isn't enough to set the anti-Vietnam War mood of the poignant documentary "Sir! No Sir!," then the words from former Green Beret Donald Duncan are:
"The problem I had was realizing that what I was doing was not good. I was doing it right, but I wasn't doing right."
Producer-writer-director David Zeiger is likely to catch some without close ties to the military off-guard by chronicling the GI movement against the war in Vietnam. Some of those connected to the military directly or even slightly may find themselves putting their guard up.
This is a documentary that takes a tough stance. Even Zeiger's title ("Sir! No Sir!") demands and stands at attention.
Modern-day interviews chronicle past events. Archive footage includes the Oleo Strut coffeehouse in Killeen just outside Fort Hood, circa 1968-'72.
The Oleo Strut, like other gathering places for raw recruits and returning soldiers alike, featured underground newspapers and 'Nam talk. Shell-shocked returnees related horror stories of atrocities they felt were being played out by our side on the other side of the world.
Others prominently on display include Howard Levy, a Green Beret medic who eventually refused to train others in protest of the war, and Dave Cline, who was wounded three times in Vietnam and became an organizer for the GI movement when he returned to Fort Hood in 1968.
For anyone who remembers the escalating war, the protests and the unrest of the 1960s-'70s, "Sir! No Sir!" could serve to complete a still-fuzzy historical puzzle.
This documentary succeeds at not only bringing to life the struggles of resisters about 40 years ago. It also reveals a defiance not widely known at the time and explores the impact of that resistance. Zeiger even takes on what he calls "the myth" of the spat-upon returning veteran.
A film already ignited by emotions still stirring within the subjects interviewed grows into white-heat emotion when Jane Fonda shows up on screen. She discusses the formation of an antiwar cabaret show performed near military installations around the world.
It's clear that Zeiger believes in William Faulkner's observation: