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A Bright Shining Lie Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

A Bright Shining Lie

120min.
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Plot & Details

Adapted from Neil Sheehan's 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning best-seller, this $14-million TV docudrama, re-creating the Vietnam War with convincing combat footage, was the most expensive two-hour movie ever produced by HBO Pictures. Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann (Bill Paxton) spends ten years (1962-72) in Vietnam. When Vann exposes falsified casualty figures, deceptive battle reports, and other lies about the war, journalist Steven Burnett (Donal Logue) relays the truth to American newspapers, and Vann takes heat from higher-ups. Meanwhile, he's involved with a Vietnamese teacher (Vivian Wu), and his wife (Amy Madigan) is forced to lie so he won't be court-martialed for sexual relations with an underage Vietnamese girl. Back for a second tour, he gets another young Vietnamese woman pregnant and is forced to marry her. Returning in 1968 as a civilian, he's decorated and eventually promoted to general for his contributions during the Tet offensive. The music track features Grace Slick singing "Somebody to Love" while peasant villages are bombed. Filmed in Lompburi, Thailand. Premiered May 30, 1998 on HBO.

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