Directed by Francine Parker (1972)
This is a long suppressed documentary about tours conducted by Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Soul and R&B artist Swamp Dog and other anti-war actors and musicians during the early 1970s. The brainchild of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, tours featured songs and skits from newsletters published by serving GIs. They were performed outside military bases in Hawaii, the Philippines, Okinawa and mainland Japan, the main staging areas for troops bound for Vietnam. It was enormously popular with troops.
Skits songs that were especially popular concerned “fragging”* and other forms of non-cooperation with officers, the Black Convention movement that formed among African American GIs, narcotics smuggling by the CIA and South Vietnamese Army and the blatantly sexist treatment of female recruits.
The film intersperses actual footage of tours with GI interviews at each of the bases. The majority of interviewees have been deeply politicized by their Vietnam experiences. The film also backgrounds the long time US occupation of the island of Okinawa. During their stay in Okinawa, tour members participate in a picket of striking Okinawa workers employed at the US military base. At the time, their average pay was less than a dollar a day.
*The title FTA refers to the tour’s theme song “Foxtrot, Tango, Alpha – Free the Army.” “Free the Army” was a euphemism for “Fuck the Army,” a parody on the 1970s Army slogan “Fun, Travel and Adventure.”
**Fragging refers to the deliberate killing or attempted killing of superior officers by the troops serving under them.
The film can be viewed free at Kanopy.