The Boys in Company C follows the lives of five naïve young Marine inductees from their training in boot camp through a tour in Vietnam that quickly devolves into a hellish nightmare.
The five new USMC recruits – streetwise drug dealer Tyrone Washington (Stan Shaw), naïve hick Billy Ray Pike (Andrew Stevens), longhaired war protestor Dave Brisbee (Craig Wasson), scheming slacker Vinne Fazio (Michael Lembeck), and would-be war chronicler Alvin Foster (James Canning) – bond during six weeks of harrowing training then encounter pure lunacy in Vietnam once they fall under the command of Captain Collins (Scott Hylands), a gung-ho fool who regularly endangers his men by pursuing pointless missions, Collins earns enmity from all of his subordinates, even his seasoned second-in-command, Lieutenant Archer (James Whitmore, Jr.).
Foster’s narration, representing entries in his combat journal, ties the film together.
Disheartened by futile combat, appalled by the corruption of their South Vietnamese ally, and constantly endangered by the incompetence of their own company commander, the young men find a possible way out of the war.
They are told that if they can defeat a rival soccer team, they can spend the rest of their tour playing exhibition games behind the lines.
But as they might have predicted, nothing in Vietnam is as simple as it seems.
Recognised as the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick s Full Metal Jacket (1987), the movie is a frighteningly realistic critique of the pointlessness and corruption universally associated with the Vietnam war. Like the later film, The Boys in Company C is divided into two parts, with the first section depicting basic training and the second section dramatising life on the battlefield.
Watch out for Lee Ermey, later the drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket.
Billy Ray Pike
James Whitmore Jr
R Lee Ermey
Sidney J Furie