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Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10 from NOT RATED votes
Release: 30 Jan 1972 /

Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol

Genre: Drama
Director: George McCowan,
Synopsis: An American soldier manages to endure his captivity in a Vietnamese POW camp by keeping alive the memories of life in his home town. When he is finally released from the camp, and is ...

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Critic Reviews

"Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol" is a powerful film, but it never received the acclaim it deserved. The script and the acting are both excellent. Johnny Bristol, an American serviceman finally released from North Vietnamese POW camp, comes home to a VA hospital with the goal of finding his original home.

The story line is built around John's attempts to find his boyhood home and family. Like an amnesia victim, he has been so "brainwashed" through torture that he has few memories of his life before his imprisonment. Martin Landau did an extraordinary job in this film, as we see him slowly recover from a total nervous "cripple" to his true human self. He is aided in his quest by his nurse, Anne (Jane Alexander) who falls in love with him while going above and beyond even her high call to duty as a VA nurse.

At first the only thing John can remember is that he was born and raised in the small town of Charles, Vermont. Early in the film John is still traumatized from his imprisonment and torture. In one memorable scene, he wakes up screaming in total panic. As Anne comes to his rescue, we see that the curtains closed completely around his hospital bed made him think he was back in his cell. It takes all her skill to calm him back down.

As John and Anne's love deepens, they undertake to locate his forgotten youth. A series of talks with other veterans and even a trip to Vermont reveal nothing. John and Anne are quite surprised when they drive to Vermont and find out that there is no town called Charles. In one touching scene, John finds the elderly retired recruiting sergeant who signed him into the Army. Played by Pat O'Brien, John fears he could become just like this lonely old man with no family and no memories of anything but the Army.

Only deep psychiatric treatments bring back the story of Johnny's life. He finally locates his true roots, which are very different than what he thought he remembered. You are left with the hope that John will build a new life with Anne. I won't give away the ending, but it is a surprise on the order of the famous "Rosebud" from "Citizen Kane."

This outstanding movie was not appreciated at the time, just as our Vietnam Veterans were not appreciated. It was shown in the summer of 1972, not long before the end of the Vietnam War. Public sentiment had turned against the war, and sadly, most Americans turned their back on the many returning GI's. The general public had heard stories that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese tortured any captured Americans, but the Government had not yet released the full story of the extent of the cruelty suffered by the POWs. Perhaps the Government felt that revealing the whole truth would have brought even more outcries against the war. Veterans came home to high unemployment and a general public who did not wish to acknowledge them. Whether or not you think the War was right, it is a sad commentary that it took this country many years to honor the forgotten veterans of that tragic war.

I do not think this movie is "dated" and I believe that if it were shown on TV again that more people would appreciate it.

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