84 Charlie Mopic (1989)

R | 95 mins | Drama | 22 March 1989

Director:

Patrick Duncan

Writer:

Patrick Duncan

Producer:

Michael Nolin

Cinematographer:

Alan Caso

Editor:

Stephen Purvis

Production Designer:

Douglas Dick

Production Company:

The Charlie Mopic Company
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HISTORY

The following statement appears in opening credits: "This film is dedicated to the men of: C Co., 2/502nd, 82 Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, N.C.; C Co., 3/503rd, 173rd (ABN) BDE, Bon Song, Vietnam; 173rd (ABN) Brigade Jungle School, An Khe, Vietnam; IFFV Forward Observer Training Center, An Khe, Vietnam. Wherever you might be.”
       The following acknowledgements and thanks appear in end credits: “‘84 Charlie Mopic’ was developed with the assistance of The Sundance Institute. The filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the contributions and support of that great organization and especially wish to thank Michelle Satter, the filmmakers, resource and support people, artists and fellow collaborators, of the 1985 June lab.”; “The Charlie Mopic Company wishes to thank the following people: Larry Estes, Steve Norris, Norman Levy, Ben Bergery, Kathy Himoff, Robert Redford, David Puttnam, Roger Strull, Brian Sullivan, Saul Bass, Robert Joy, Gill Dennis, Frank Pierson, Debbie Bernsen, Richard Pearce, Phil Groves, Dov Schwarz, Art Lee, Vicki Valtierra, Jenny Walz, Morteza Rezvani, Joe Geisenger, Michael Riley, Alan Levine, Barbara Jefferson, Jeffrey Jay Cohen, Courtney Gains, Anthony Jefferson, King Wilder, David Chung, Bill Brophy, Peter Smokler, Bob Broadhead, Mark Keyloun, Charles Olsen, Christine Boyar, Annie Welles, John Vomero, Greg Hinde, Rob White, Marsha Blanchard, Richard James, James Monroe, Tony Maccario, David Dunbar, Ivan Craig, Simon Tukes, Leo Soltis, M. Clayton Simmons, Eric Andrews, Cylk Cozart, Patricia McGovern, Googy Gress, Tak Fujimoto, Sterling VanWagenen, Tony Safford, Cinda Holt, John Jackson, Mike Fenton, Joan Danto, and organizations: RCA/Columbia Home Video, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., HBO, Preferred Artists, Lloyd’s Camera Exchange, Gerber Legendary Blades, Unertl Optical Co., Columbia Pictures, The Burbank Studios, Ed Commando Knife Co., Right Away Foods Corp., Southern ... More Less

The following statement appears in opening credits: "This film is dedicated to the men of: C Co., 2/502nd, 82 Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, N.C.; C Co., 3/503rd, 173rd (ABN) BDE, Bon Song, Vietnam; 173rd (ABN) Brigade Jungle School, An Khe, Vietnam; IFFV Forward Observer Training Center, An Khe, Vietnam. Wherever you might be.”
       The following acknowledgements and thanks appear in end credits: “‘84 Charlie Mopic’ was developed with the assistance of The Sundance Institute. The filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the contributions and support of that great organization and especially wish to thank Michelle Satter, the filmmakers, resource and support people, artists and fellow collaborators, of the 1985 June lab.”; “The Charlie Mopic Company wishes to thank the following people: Larry Estes, Steve Norris, Norman Levy, Ben Bergery, Kathy Himoff, Robert Redford, David Puttnam, Roger Strull, Brian Sullivan, Saul Bass, Robert Joy, Gill Dennis, Frank Pierson, Debbie Bernsen, Richard Pearce, Phil Groves, Dov Schwarz, Art Lee, Vicki Valtierra, Jenny Walz, Morteza Rezvani, Joe Geisenger, Michael Riley, Alan Levine, Barbara Jefferson, Jeffrey Jay Cohen, Courtney Gains, Anthony Jefferson, King Wilder, David Chung, Bill Brophy, Peter Smokler, Bob Broadhead, Mark Keyloun, Charles Olsen, Christine Boyar, Annie Welles, John Vomero, Greg Hinde, Rob White, Marsha Blanchard, Richard James, James Monroe, Tony Maccario, David Dunbar, Ivan Craig, Simon Tukes, Leo Soltis, M. Clayton Simmons, Eric Andrews, Cylk Cozart, Patricia McGovern, Googy Gress, Tak Fujimoto, Sterling VanWagenen, Tony Safford, Cinda Holt, John Jackson, Mike Fenton, Joan Danto, and organizations: RCA/Columbia Home Video, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., HBO, Preferred Artists, Lloyd’s Camera Exchange, Gerber Legendary Blades, Unertl Optical Co., Columbia Pictures, The Burbank Studios, Ed Commando Knife Co., Right Away Foods Corp., Southern Packing Co., CCI Omark Industries, Hand Prop Room, Creative Film Promotions, General Foods Corp., Kool Aid Division, The American Film Institute, and the countless others who contributed to the making of this motion picture.”; “Special acknowledgments to Peer-Southern Music Publishing and Kathy Spanberger.”; “A special thanks to Lesa Meredith Duncan” and "In memory of Waldo Salt.”
       The title derives from the army’s alphanumeric designation, “84C,” for a motion picture cameraman. “Mopic” was an army slang for motion picture cameraman.
       Director Patrick Duncan served in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade from May 1968 to Jul 1969. According to an article in the 19 Mar 1989 NYT he was awarded two purple hearts and a Bronze Star. The idea for the film came in 1983 when Duncan was stuck in a traffic jam due to a fatal accident. A television cameraman walked up to one of the survivors and filmed her bleeding. Duncan, who had been struggling about how to bring his vision of the Vietnam War to film, realized that the story should be told in a documentary style and wrote the screenplay in five days.
       A Jun 1989 Box cover story stated that Duncan insisted that there be no score and only unknown actors be cast to keep the illusion of a documentary. Although the screenplay generated a lot of interest, it was believed that a movie about the Vietnam War would not make any money. In 1984, Duncan submitted the script to producer Michael Nolin, who was then working at 20th Century-Fox. Nolin, who helped actor-director Robert Redford create the Sundance Festival, invited Duncan to submit his script for the Sundance’s Directors Lab. During the Sundance 1985 season, Duncan was given the opportunity to fine-tune his project with professional actors such as Karl Malden, Peter Coyote and Sam Waterston. A 16 Mar 1989 DV article reported that director Richard Pearce worked on a short videotape version of the film as a cameraman. For a brief time, David Puttnam of Columbia Pictures showed interest in making the film, but when he left Columbia to return to England, the project stalled. Nolin then presold the film to RCA/Columbia Video and theatrical distribution rights to New Century/Vista. This small amount allowed Duncan to shoot his film on a little more than $1 million budget.
       A 25 May 1988 Var news brief announced that principal photography began 9 May 1988.
       According to the Box article, Duncan shot the entire film in the hills outside Los Angeles, CA, using a 16 mm camera over seventeen days. One of those days was lost to a malfunctioning helicopter.
       The film was screened at the Hawaii Film Festival in 1988, but did not officially debut until the 1988 Sundance Festival in Park City, UT.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jun 1989
pp. 10-12.
Daily Variety
16 Mar 1989
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1989
p. 4, 20.
Los Angeles Times
7 Apr 1989
p. 1.
New York Times
19 Mar 1989
pg. 15, 23.
New York Times
22 Mar 1989
p. 24.
Variety
25 May 1988.
---
Variety
25 Jan 1989
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Video assist tech
Still photog
Gaffer
Super 16 consultant
Super 16 Kems provided by
Aston cameras provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst props
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst ward
MUSIC
Mus
Mus consultant
SOUND
Prod sd
Prod sd
Dial ed
ADR ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley by
Foley by
Foley ed
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Sd transfer
Post-prod sd services
Weddington chief eng
Rec/Eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Titles and optical eff
MAKEUP
Makeup des and created by
Asst makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech Advisor
Scr supv
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Aerial coord
Helicopter pilot
Co-pilot
Loc tech
Prod secy
Prod asst
Asst to prods
Craft services
Post-prod accountant
Honeywagon driver
Water truck driver
Transportation coord
Post-prod supv
Prod accounting and payroll software by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Processing by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Catch The Wind," written and performed by Donovan, © 1965 Donovan Music Ltd./Administrated by Southern Music Publishing Co., Inc.
"Susan On The West Coast Waiting," written and performed by Donovan © 1969 Donovan Music Ltd./Administrated by Southern Music Publishing Co. Inc.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 March 1989
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 March 1989
Los Angeles opening: 7 April 1989
Production Date:
began 9 May 1988
Copyright Claimant:
The Charlie Mopic Company
Copyright Date:
14 December 1989
Copyright Number:
PA531976
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

On 1 August 1969, “LT,” 2nd Lieutenant Richard B. Drewry, faces the camera and announces he is leading a long distance reconnaissance mission into the central highlands of Vietnam, and that the mission is being recorded so any lessons learned can be used in future training films. He is interrupted when a squad of soldiers appear. Drewry introduces himself to Sergeant “OD” O'Donigan, who is not happy being saddled with a photographer and demands to speak with his captain. The infantrymen introduce themselves to the camera. First is radioman Private "Easy" Easely, whose tour of duty is almost up. He is followed by “Pretty Boy” Baldwin, machine gunner William “Hammer” Thorpe, and weapons specialist “Cracker” Frye, a sergeant from the Deep South. A disgruntled OD returns and orders the men to board a helicopter. They disembark and run into a bamboo forest, distancing themselves from the landing spot. As they proceed to their destination OD declares the cameraman is making too much noise and orders Pretty Boy and Easy to duct tape his gear to keep it from banging around. Upon learning that this is LT’s first mission, Pretty Boy tapes the the lieutenant’s grenade pins down so he does not blow himself up. At the first break, the cameraman confesses this is also his first mission and he volunteered after months of processing other cameramen’s work, and Easy declares that “MoPic” is the cameraman’s new name. They all freeze when they hear a noise nearby. Drewry asks what is going on, but OD silences him by pointing his rifle in the lieutenant’s face. ... +


On 1 August 1969, “LT,” 2nd Lieutenant Richard B. Drewry, faces the camera and announces he is leading a long distance reconnaissance mission into the central highlands of Vietnam, and that the mission is being recorded so any lessons learned can be used in future training films. He is interrupted when a squad of soldiers appear. Drewry introduces himself to Sergeant “OD” O'Donigan, who is not happy being saddled with a photographer and demands to speak with his captain. The infantrymen introduce themselves to the camera. First is radioman Private "Easy" Easely, whose tour of duty is almost up. He is followed by “Pretty Boy” Baldwin, machine gunner William “Hammer” Thorpe, and weapons specialist “Cracker” Frye, a sergeant from the Deep South. A disgruntled OD returns and orders the men to board a helicopter. They disembark and run into a bamboo forest, distancing themselves from the landing spot. As they proceed to their destination OD declares the cameraman is making too much noise and orders Pretty Boy and Easy to duct tape his gear to keep it from banging around. Upon learning that this is LT’s first mission, Pretty Boy tapes the the lieutenant’s grenade pins down so he does not blow himself up. At the first break, the cameraman confesses this is also his first mission and he volunteered after months of processing other cameramen’s work, and Easy declares that “MoPic” is the cameraman’s new name. They all freeze when they hear a noise nearby. Drewry asks what is going on, but OD silences him by pointing his rifle in the lieutenant’s face. After determining the sound was a large lizard, Drewry asks OD to teach him to survive, but also treat him as an officer. The next time OD points his weapon at him, Drewry will see he is court martialed. OD responds that that if he has to point his gun at Drewry again, he will pull the trigger. During hours of marching the men defend OD’s actions, telling Drewry that OD is the only one who can get them home alive. During another rest, Easy discovers a bag of marijuana in MoPic’s knapsack. OD appears, dumps it on the ground and declares getting high on a mission is suicide. Drewry pulls out a cigarette and Hammer snatches it from his lips, explaining that cigarette smoke can be smelled from a quarter mile away. They continue marching, but their progress is impeded by Drewry and MoPic, whose heavy camera equipment is slowing him down. The radio picks up American soldiers requesting support as they are under attack. OD vetoes Drewry’s suggestion they go help, stating they would make little difference. During the night, Easy radios the battalion commander, ordering artillery be fired on his position as the Viet Cong have overwhelmed his defenses. Drewry protests they should have gone to his aid, but OD suggest the lieutenant not be so eager to get killed. The next day, Drewry interviews the men. Pretty Boy tells how he has avoided death on multiple occasions and Hammer talks about getting drafted. Easy voices his fear he that he will be killed before his tour of duty is up. Drewry asks Cracker if his being a South Carolinian makes it hard to serve under OD, who is black. An angered Cracker tells him that he loves OD closer than a brother and both men have risked their lives for each other. He then orders MoPic to turn off the camera. Later, OD shows MoPic a Viet Cong booby trap; a grenade fixed with a trip wire surrounded by punji sticks. He explains when the first man is killed by the explosion, the rest of his squad leaps into the brush, impaling themselves on the sharpened bamboo. Later, the squad hits the deck when a Viet Cong patrol walks by. Drewry throws himself to the ground and a stake goes through his hand. He stifles a scream as an enemy soldier nearly steps on him before moving on. Later, Hammer bandages Drewry’s hand as he and OD study the map. Drewry points out a site where he believes the enemy is heading. After a long hike, they arrive to find a large company of Viet Cong camping near a river. From their new uniforms and equipment, OD deduces they are raw troops and devises a plan to call in an artillery strike, then gun down any survivors from a nearby hilltop. During the night, Hammer talks about his father getting him drafted to make a man out of him and Drewry explains he is a career officer and views combat as an opportunity for advancement. In the morning, they discover that Viet Cong reinforcements arrived during the night. OD notices that the enemy’s scouts are missing and changes the plan. Instead of shooting at the survivors of the barrage, he decides to call in the artillery and run. As the shells land on the enemy, OD leads his men downhill only to find the path blocked by six North Vietnamese soldiers. After a quick gun battle, only one wounded Viet Cong remains. Over OD’s protests, Drewry orders Hammer to bandage the enemy’s leg. Pretty Boy screams as he is hit by a sniper’s bullet. The squad takes cover, leaving Pretty Boy in the open. Hammer leaps up to save him, but takes a round in the shoulder. Pretty Boy is shot twice more and pulls out a grenade to commit suicide. Another round knocks the grenade from his hand and he yells for OD to finish him. OD shoots Pretty Boy in the head. Cracker spots the sniper and kills him. With tears streaming down their faces, the men place Pretty Boy in a body bag and OD tells Drewry they cannot carry both the corpse and the prisoner. OD convinces Drewry that the prisoner will give away their position if they leave him behind. OD hands Drewry a knife, explaining a gunshot will give away their position, then searches the soldier, finding a letter and photographs. OD hands them to Drewry, telling him he should know who is killing. Crying, Drewry plunges the knife into the man’s heart. Easy declares his radio has been hit as more gunfire erupts. OD takes a bullet in the hip while Cracker takes three in the chest. Hammer kills another sniper as Cracker dies in Easy’s arms. OD orders his men to abandon the bodies. They interrupt their march to duct tape OD’s wound shut so he does not bleed to death. Hammer turns to the camera and tells his Dad that although he was not a hero, he did the best job he could do. Easy panics and screams that he will be the next to die. Drewry gives him his flak jacket and OD assures Easy that he will protect him. Hammer takes point and as OD warns him to watch for booby traps, Hammer steps on a landmine and is blown up. They finally arrive at the village where they are to rendezvous with a rescue helicopter only to find all the villagers have been massacred. When Drewry wonders which side killed them, OD snaps “does it make a difference?" As the helicopter approaches, Drewry mistakenly throws a yellow smoke grenade signaling that there is no enemy in the vicinity. As bullets hit the ground around him, Drewry stamps out the flare and throws the appropriate smoke grenade. The helicopter lands and a door gunner lays down suppression fire. MoPic rushes to the chopper, tosses in his camera, which is still recording, and rushes back to help Drewry carry OD. As they get OD inside, MoPic is shot and falls. The helicopter ascends as Drewry reaches for the cameraman, but MoPic is hit two more times and dies. Drewry’s boot comes down in front of the camera lens, blocking the shot until it runs out of film. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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