Cast & Crew
In Dec 1971, at the height of the Vietnam War, actors Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda, along with seven other performers, toured the United States military bases around the Pacific Rim in response to the growing movement among American G.I.s to end the war. Their FTA show, an acronym for "Free the Army," is a type of political vaudeville in which skits, songs and interviews with G.I.s voice disillusionment with the war. The troupe first travels to Hawaii, one of the primary staging grounds for the war, where 1,300 crew members from the attack aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Coral Sea have signed a petition to prevent the ship from going to Vietnam. After Fonda interviews some of the dissenting crew members, Sutherland and comic Paul Mooney present a skit in which two sportscasters give a play-by-play commentary of an American aerial attack on the Viet Cong. Traveling to a U.S. base at Okinawa, the troupe interviews the Okinawans picketing the base in protest of the military presence on the island. Black singer Rita Martinson then performs "Soldier, We Love You," about a black soldier who refused orders to kill in Vietnam. She ends by charging that the war is racist and genocidal. After several enlisted men discuss how the army allows for no sense of individuality its quest to turn its recruits into obedient robots, the troupe sings "Genocide." In the Philippines, Fonda explains that much of the material for the show was culled from military newspapers. G.I.s then speak about oppression and racism in the military. After Fonda and Holly Near sing "Nothin' Could Be Finer Than to Be in Indochina!" newsreel footage is shown of Filipinos protesting U.S. bases in their country. When the troupe lands in mainland Japan, the Japanese government, fearful that their presence may be fueling the Japanese peace movement, denies them entrance on the grounds that they are holding tourist, not cultural, visas. After applying for cultural visas they are allowed into the country, and at a show, present a rousing rendition of "The Movement Is Moving On" to the tune of "Glory, Glory Hallelujah." Women soldiers are then shown discussing the rampant sexism in the military, after which Sutherland eloquently reads a passage from Dalton Trumbo's anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun . In Hiroshima, the troupe visits the war museum that houses photos of those hideously disfigured by the atomic bombing of the city. At a show that night, the troupe is heckled by a group of G.I.s who call them "Commies" and warn "fight them here, or else fight them in your own backyard." Once the audience ousts the hecklers, black poet Pamela Donegan recites a poem about a ghetto boy called to war. The evening ends with a call to set a date to end the war. In a speech to foreign correspondents in Tokyo, Fonda speaks out against the U.S. genocide in Vietnam. At the Iwakuni Base, G.I.s discuss the nuclear arms they have seen at the base, a charge the US government denies. Soldiers then line up to sign a petition advocating the withdrawal of U.S. troupes from all foreign countries. The film ends as Sutherland recites the shattering conclusion of Johnny Got His Gun .
Claude La Rose
Terry Tam Soon
Although onscreen credits contain a copyright statement for Free Theater Associates, Inc., the picture was not copyrighted at the time of its release. Although the title card reads FTA, many of the reviews list the tile as F.T.A. The film opens with the following written acknowledgment: "This film was made in association with the service women and men stationed in the United States bases of the Pacific Rim, together with their friends whose lands they occupy." FTA was shot in 16mm and later blown up to 35mm for theatrical release. According to publicity material contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library, the idea for creating FTA came to actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland while they were filming Klute (1971, see below). Fonda and Sutherland were disturbed by newspaper reports of American ground troops in Vietnam and at home in the United States complaining about the kind of entertainment that they were offered, which they felt did not reflect their feelings about the war, the military and the world. In response, Fonda and Sutherland requested that the Pentagon allow them to put together a show to go to Vietnam to entertain the troops.
When the Pentagon refused their request, they decided to organize a show to entertain the U. S. troops and so created FTA as an "anti-establishment satirical review on The War, The Military, The Pentagon and the Government." That show, which played in G.I. coffee houses off-base, featured Sutherland, Fonda, Peter Boyle, Garry Goodrow and Dick Gregory and was directed by Alan Myerson. After achieving success at G.I. coffee houses throughout the country, the troupe staged a show in New York to raise funds for a proposed Vietnam tour. Even though the show won an off-Broadway Obie Award, they were still denied permission by the Pentagon to visit Vietnam. They then decided to entertain the soldiers stationed at U.S. bases along the Pacific Rim. Visiting fifteen cities, the group performed twenty-one shows for over 64,000 G.I.s. The performers were accompanied by a production crew of fifteen. According to the publicity material, in Manila, two G.I.s who appeared at a press conference supporting the show were discharged within 72 hours. In Subic Bay, home of the Seventh Fleet, the USS Chicago sailed 24 hours ahead of schedule to avoid the arrival of the FTA troupe.
According to an August 1972 Hollywood Reporter news item, the premiere of the film in Beverly Hills was a benefit to raise funds for kidney dialysis. By early Aug, American International Pictures, the film's distributor, decided to withdraw the film from two Los Angeles theaters in response to exhibitor wishes. The exhibitors were unhappy about Fonda's visit to North Vietnam in which she broadcast to U. S. troops over Hanoi radio, interviewed American prisoners of war and accused the U.S. of deliberately bombing North Vietnam dikes. Senator John Tower of Texas demanded that Fonda be tried for treason, and she was dubbed "Hanoi Jane" by her detractors. In the same article, Fonda disputed that report and said that AIP decided to postpone the release of the film until the college students returned to campus, reasoning that the film would have maximum appeal to a college audience. However, there are no reviews indicating that the film was re-released after the start of school.
Released in United States 1972
Released in United States 1972