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Movie Review: Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry

Alternate Title: John Kerry for President

Story: Director George Butler (Pumping Iron and Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition) has been documenting John Kerry on film since 1964. He knew back then that Kerry was someone to watch and this film is a fascinating look at the development of character.

Much of the film is based on the book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley. Old footage from Kerry's boyhood, days at Yale and in Vietnam are interwoven with present day interviews with the people who knew him during those days.

If you are a politico like me, much of the film will be familiar but there are some new images and complete coverage of Kerry's rise to instant stardom during the period after he came home from Vietnam and joined the Vietnam Vets Against the War. In a dramatic four day showdown in 1971, when thousands of Vets descended on Washington to protest the war we see a youthful, passionate John Kerry speak to reporters and ultimately give testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Very powerful stuff.

The other interesting item was the introduction of John (Swift Boat Goofballs Against Kerry) O'Neill towards the end of the film. He was hired by the Nixon thugs to debate and attempt to debunk Kerry in the news and on shows such as Dick Cavett. He is still at it today!

I am Judy Lobo and I approved this ad (I mean review).

Acting: It is a documentary so this category is moot.

Predilection: This should come as no bulletin to anyone - I am a liberal democrat for supports John Kerry for President.

Soundtrack: The Vietnam war was hell but the music of the day was wonderful.

Theater Audience: My pal Mary Schwalm (check out her photography at www.maryschwalm.com) downloaded the film and gave it to me to watch. It can be seen in some cities on the big screen but is now available free on the Internet(s). Check it out!

Sappy Factor: 0

Drift Range: It was impossible not to drift a bit while comparing the John Kerry of today with the youthful man of thirty years ago.

Squirm Scale: The Nixon administration still makes me squirm.

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: No nits to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: As already mentioned I watched it on my computer but I would recommend the big screen. For some other great films about the Vietnam War you could rent: Apocalypse Now, Birdy, Born on the Fourth of July, Coming Home, The deer Hunter, Fog of War, Good Morning, Vietnam, Hearts and Minds (which has just been re-released), The Quiet American and the Trials of Henry Kissinger (don't get me started on him)!

Length: 90 minutes.