This is one of the best war movies ever made, even though there are few battle scenes and the focus is on circumstances and personalities. The setting is southern Vietnam in 1964, before large numbers of American ground troops were committed. The Americans were still in an "advisory" and support role, although they were already fighting and dying. Burt Lancaster is superb as a hardened major trying to keep a handle on a senseless situation. His explanation of why he is still a major after so many years is one of the classic scenes in all of film. He deadpans a hilarious scene very well as he describes an incident with the wife of a superior. All of the absurdity of the American involvement in Vietnam appears in the movie. Ordered to garrison a useless post against his wishes, Lancaster complies and then the post is abandoned, leaving the troops to fight their way out and back to base. An extended family of Viet Cong sympathizers are found and befriended, over the objections of the experienced American and Vietnamese troops. The naïve Americans talk about "winning the hearts and minds" only to be proven wrong. This is very likely the most historically accurate movie about the Vietnam war ever made. "Civilian" VietCong soldiers fighting and dying, the bribing of opulent Vietnamese officers to get them to fight what is their war and frustration at the pointless policies combine with superb performances to make it one of the best "historical" movies ever made.