A Bright Shining Lie (1998)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

A Bright Shining Lie Videos & Photos

Movie Info

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, … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Television
Directed By:
Written By: Christopher Hampton, Terry George
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 5, 1999
HBO Video

Watch it now


as John Paul Vann

as Mary Jane Vann

as Burnett

as Doug Elders

as Gen. Weyand

as Westmoreland

as Ambassador

as Psychiatrist

as Captain Frank Drummo...

as General Paul Harkins

as General Chin

as British Reporter

as Col. Huynh Van Cao

as School Teacher

as Major Jones

as Capt. Frank Drummond
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for A Bright Shining Lie

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for A Bright Shining Lie

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

May 29, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

July 24, 2005

December 21, 2004
Greenwich Village Gazette

| May 11, 2004

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Flick Filosopher

Audience Reviews for A Bright Shining Lie


Interesting HBO movie based on the experiences of John Vann soldier, and military advisor, during the Vietnam conflict. A revealing story of cover-ups, and mistakes that are ultimately revealed about all wars. Decently done.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


I barely remember this one, but I liked it because Paxton was in it.

Christopher Brown

Super Reviewer


Having read the other reviews of this movie, I guess I'd have to defer to those who read the book this is based on and those who actually served in Vietnam as to its historical accuracy. As to the movie itself, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Generally, even the best made-for-cable movies fall just a bit flat, but this one didn't at all. More importantly, it opened my eyes to another perspective to the war that I've not seen in any other Vietnam film. For my generation, we only really know the war through movies, and generally that image is of the quagmire, of no one knowing what the hell was going on. This is the first that I'd seen where victory seemed attainable. More importantly, it stirred debate as to how the lessons learned in Vietnam apply to our current situation in the war on terror. The depiction of John Paul Vann was excellent. This was an imperfect man fighting an imperfect war. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to get a different perspective on the conflict.

J Dean

A Bright Shining Lie Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss A Bright Shining Lie on our Movie forum!