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The P.O.W. 1973 Theatrical Release


The P.O.W. 1973 Theatrical Release


Starring Howard Jahre

Manuel Sicart

Rudy Hornish

Marcia Davis

Shelley Kaplan

At the height of the Vietnam War, a talented group of young actors and anti-war activists joined forces with auteur Philip Dossick in an alliance that resulted in The P.O.W. This brilliantly staged free-ranging assault on Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War was made on an impossibly low budget with only a noisy Bolex 16mm camera and ancient Korean War surplus Kodak movie film—all in total opposition to commercial Hollywood cinema standards. The result was a neo-realist work that stings to this day.

Beginning with his (dehumanizing) discharge from the VA hospital, The P.O.W. portrays Howie Kaufman’s painful attempts to reintegrate into his once familiar middle-class urban life. Howie is a decent young man who has been drafted into the war in Vietnam. He has returned home permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

“I have to get a job. I have to find a place to live. I don’t even know where to begin.” Howie says to his VA music therapist the night before his military discharge.

“Yeah well… It might be rough at first,” replies the therapist.

“I know. That’s the problem. But I have to face it eventually.”

“You can do it soldier. You really can.”

After that, we see him being wheeled around town by friends under grim Manhattan skies, desperately searching for a place to live and a job to keep him afloat. An obnoxious Eyewitness News documentary film crew follows closely behind recording every single humiliating morsel. The Wall St. Journal’s Joy Gould Boyum called this leitmotif “Cinema Verite’s Orwellian Aspect.”

In a piercing encounter with friends, Howie reluctantly explains that brutality and wanton violence are acceptable realities in Vietnam, but such realities make absolutely no sense to people back in the U.S. Consequently he is having no luck or sympathy finding work.

Looking back nearly five decades later, the passage of time has only intensified the resonance of Dossick’s singular creation. It is the ecstasy of the enterprise that seems most striking—an ecstatic engagement by all involved—both cast and crew—in those turbulent days—to create a work of neorealist art still very much alive with strength and relevance.

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