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16

friday

It’s widely believed that American movies didn’t address the Vietnam War until Saigon had fallen—a distance that made films such as Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter possible in 1978. In fact, Vietnam—and its veterans—began appearing on-screen in the mid-’60s, just not in prestige pictures. The ’Nam survivor, often deranged and usually violent, was a feature of low-budget exploitation flicks. By 1971, when Clay Pigeon was made, that depiction had become more mainstream, as ailing major studios recruited directors of successful youth-culture cheapies. One such filmmaker was Tom Stern, the biker-flick specialist who co-directed and starred in Clay Pigeon. The Hell’s Angels ’69 auteur plays Viet vet Joe, who just wants to make love and smoke dope. But when he’s ensnared by a DEA operative, Joe is forced into a new campaign—this time, into the war on drugs. See more cinematic proof that, before Vietnam was even over, it could never be over, when the film shows at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, Jefferson Building, 1st Street and Independence Avenue SE. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)