Theme Song: “(As Long As) We’ve Got Each Other” written by Gary Fry, sung by Michael Johnson.
Sappy studio balladry was at its apex in 1985. Think Peter Cetera’s 80s work and you’re in the same ballpark. No, this is not the song from Growing Pains
Interesting Dated References: Don Johnson (Matt Houston, Soggy Bottom, U.S.A., Eight is Enough) acting in a movie that is a quiet character study about Vietnam; moustaches worn unironically; Vietnam action sequences filmed in Florida.
Best Line: Presented by a super-fucking-wasted Don Johnson as a toast, presumably as a reference to the M*A*S*H television series — “Here’s lookin’ up your old address.”
Social Context: Cease Fire has a lot in common with Heroes: Both are primarily a solitary character study on the after-effects of Vietnam, both feature an actor more well known for their television work, and both are unfairly forgotten films that although flawed, don’t deserve to be completely overlooked.
Summary: So Tim Murphy (Don Johnson) has a really thick moustache and can’t find work. The moustache does not directly correlate to why he can’t find work, but it’s a possible factor.
Murphy also can’t move past his horrible experiences in Vietnam. This trauma slips into all facets of his life: We see his marriage crumbling, his social abilities stifled, his alcohol consumption increasing, and jobs/income decreasing.
Eventually he befriends Luke, another down-on-his luck vet. Luke is played by Robert F. Lyons, whom you really wouldn’t know unless you were way into character actors of the 1980s. Lyons is very good in the role and unfortunately his “gym coach” looks probably prevented him from landing starring roles.
Tim and Luke run around town doing odd jobs, being estranged from their families, and in general fitting the 80s idea of down-on-their-luck Vietnam vets. Most of you will not remember Don Johnson is a good actor because all you care about is making stupid Miami Vice jokes and letting irony be your sole means of creative output.
After much discussion on The ‘Nam and several very synthy and shlocky ‘Nam flashbacks, Luke decides to reconcile with his wife. When that fails, Luke immediately kills himself while on the phone with Tim. The next day Tim is so distraught he finally opens up to his counselor about his terrible Vietnam experience.
During the somewhat cheesy final Vietnam flashback, Tim comes to terms with the fact that he had to do a mercy killing from a chopper on a friend who was left behind in enemy territory. Look, it’s serious business and Johnson and the crew were probably trying to be very respectful. Unfortunately it comes off a little hammy. But only a little bit, not enough to negate all the goodwill throughout the rest of the film.
– Don Johnson’s wife is played by Lisa Blount.
– There’s a pretty comical scene in which Johnson is having a The ‘Nam flashback, but takes time to dress up like John Rambo (makeshift headband, dirt/shoe polish on face, no shirt, large knife clenched in teeth).
– First credit for veteran television director David Nutter (Disturbing Behavior, several Game of Thrones episodes).
– Adapted for the screen by George Fernandez from his “Vietnam Trilogy” series of plays.
– In the mid-80s when our home was burgled (and Betamax stolen) I had this same sheet set and the burglars used the pillowcase to carry away stolen goods. For years I had the sheet set, sans pillowcase, on my bed to remind me to be constantly paranoid.
Poster and Box Art: Cease Fire had a theatrical run that featured a moustacheless Don Johnson:
This theatrical run happened after Miami Vice blew-up, so they needed maximum Johnson on their poster.
Availability: Used VHS.