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Path to War (2002)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama, War | TV Movie 18 May 2002
In the mid-1960s, President Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.

Director:

John Frankenheimer

Writer:

Daniel Giat
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 27 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Gambon ... Lyndon Johnson
Donald Sutherland ... Clark Clifford
Alec Baldwin ... Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense
Bruce McGill ... George Ball, Undersecretary of State
James Frain ... Richard Goodwin
Felicity Huffman ... Lady Bird Johnson
Frederic Forrest ... General Earle G. Wheeler
John Aylward ... Dean Rusk, Secretary of State
Philip Baker Hall ... Everett Dirksen
Tom Skerritt ... General William Westmoreland
Diana Scarwid ... Marny Clifford
Sarah Paulson ... Luci Baines Johnson
Gerry Becker ... Walt Rostow
Peter Jacobson ... Adam Yarmolinsky
Cliff De Young ... McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor (as Cliff DeYoung)
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Storyline

A portrayal of the Johnson presidency and its spiraling descent into the Vietnam War. Acting on often conflicting advice from his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara and other advisers, President Johnson finds his domestic policy agenda for the Great Society overtaken by an ever demanding commitment to ending the war. It also depicts his political skills as he crosses swords with political foes such as Bobby Kennedy and Governor George Wallace. Despite support and encouragement from stalwart friends such as Clark Clifford, Johnson realizes his management of the war no longer has the confidence of the American people and announces that he will not seek the nomination of the Democratic party for the the 1968 election. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

While one war was being fought in Vietnam another was being fought in the White House. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

HBO Films [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 May 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Path to War See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie shows Clark Clifford (Donald Sutherland) taking over as Secretary of Defense just before the Tet Offensive on Jan. 30, 1968. Clifford was actually sworn in to the position on March 1 - several weeks after Tet. See more »

Goofs

Lyndon B. Johnson was a native Texan. However, Michael Gambon's native British accent occasionally slips in, particularly in the pronunciation of some words ("taught", "fought", "should" or "heart") and the use of some terms that a would be unfamiliar to an American, such as "goobledygook". See more »

Quotes

Lyndon Baines Johnson: [Looking at the fighter jet escort next to Air Force One] Dean!
Dean Rusk, Secretary of State: Are they ours?
Lyndon Baines Johnson: I fuckin' hope so.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Artist's Life
Written by Johann Strauss (as Johann Strauss)
Performed by The Rick Fleishman Orchestra
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User Reviews

 
Bush and Rumsfeld could learn from this film
1 January 2005 | by redjackcoSee all my reviews

George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld could learn from this film. As Yogi Berra might say, our slow and unending fall into the quicksand that is Iraq is "déjà vu all over again."

John Frankenheimer's "Path to War" chronicles the series of unfortunate decisions that Lyndon B. Johnson was forced to make that led to the enormous buildup and commitment of troops, money, and destruction in Vietnam during his presidency. The film portrays LBJ in a sympathetic light almost like a flawed but essentially good Shakespearean protagonist who succumbs to bad advice, becomes trapped by it, and almost descends into complete madness from it.

I vividly remember the moment when Johnson announced he would not run again. He had become an enemy to many of us at the time, and thus the news that his term would end in less than a year gave us hope once more for the country.

What is key to this film, and what opened my eyes, was his strong objections to the war itself. At each decision point he wrestled with the morality of escalation, and ultimately was led to believe that escalation would bring an end to the fighting. Indeed, history proved otherwise.

What is regrettable is that this country is going through "déjà vu all over again," the only difference being that George W. Bush seems totally immune to the suffering and costs his war in Iraq has begotten. Do we see him agonizing over the injuries and deaths? Perhaps he does in private, but if so he keeps it repressed in public.

Whether or not you are a supporter of President Bush, this film should be required viewing for anyone who cares about America's recent history and current position in the world.


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