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‘Last Flag Flying’ evokes the best movies about the Vietnam War

Laurence Fishburne, from left, Bryan Cranston and Steve

Laurence Fishburne, from left, Bryan Cranston and Steve Carell in "Last Flag Flying." Credit: Lionsgate / Wilson Webb

War may be hell, but it sure is cinematic. Which is why armed conflict, life on the home front and war’s aftermath, have been a movie staple going back to the days of silent pictures. In “Last Flag Flying,” opening Friday, Nov. 3, three Vietnam vets — Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston — reunite to bury Carell’s son, a Marine killed in Iraq. It’s the latest film about the consequences of a war whose disastrous effects still linger in the national consciousness. Some others:

GO TELL THE SPARTANS (1978) Burt Lancaster stars as an American major in the early days of the Vietnam conflict, forced to deal with bad intelligence and higher command incompetence.

THE BOYS IN COMPANY C (1978) A group of young men go through boot camp before shipping out to Vietnam. One of the earliest films about combat experience in the war.

THE DEER HUNTER (1978) Winner of best picture, best director (Michael Cimino) and best supporting actor (Christopher Walken) Oscars, this is the tale of some Pennsylvania steelworkers who go off to fight in Southeast Asia. The Russian roulette scene, although not based in fact, still shocks.

COMING HOME (1978) Military wife Jane Fonda falls for embittered, crippled veteran Jon Voight while hubby Bruce Dern is overseas. Oscars for Voight and Fonda, and still the best film about the home front during the war.

WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN (1978) Journalist Michael Moriarty and vet Nick Nolte essentially bring the war home when they decide to smuggle heroin from ’Nam into the States. Everything that can go wrong does.

APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) Army captain Martin Sheen heads upstream in ’Nam to assassinate Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), an insane renegade. Based on the Joseph Conrad novel “Heart of Darkness.”

PLATOON (1986) Oscar winner for picture and director (Oliver Stone), this follows young recruit Charlie Sheen, caught between two sergeants, a cynical Tom Berenger and a more idealistic Willem Dafoe.

FULL METAL JACKET (1987) Director Stanley Kubrick’s searing epic, featuring Vincent D’Onofrio as a Marine recruit who has a mental breakdown, and Matthew Modine as a grunt during the Tet offensive.

BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (1989) One of the few films about the anti-war movement features Oscar-nominated Tom Cruise as real-life paralyzed vet and activist Ron Kovic, a Massapequa native.

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