The film is long, at over 2.5 hours but you don't sense it once. Michael Gambon turns in the performance of a lifetime, certainly one that should have got him an Oscar. Alec Baldwin is an appropriately plump McNamara, a sleek-headed man such as those who sleep o'nights. Donald Sutherland's Clark Clifford had me perplexed at first but he played his character with his usual dexterity, slowly fleshing him out. This film is just not to be missed.
Path to War. Directed by John Frankenheimer * Michael Gambon, Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin. HBO Films.
Postscript: Ten minutes after I began watching the film, my 11 year-old daughter came in and sat with me. I expected she'd watch a bit, get bored, and leave. She sat through the whole of it, totally engrossed. She'd ask me questions now and then and we paused while I explained what little I know. It was pretty much a potted history of the Vietnam war. To work a historical theme, without graphic visuals and yet to be able to hold even one that young and at such an enormous physical remove in time and place (we live in Bombay, India) — I can't think of a better commendation. Thank you and salud, John Frankenheimer.