Greetings (1968): De Palma’s Indie Starring De Niro

In the late 1960s, the few films that alluded to Vietnam dealt with the draft. They were mostly comedies, using bittersweet humor, rather than anger and protest.

Brian De Palma began his career with the small, independently made Greetings, a film that captured the irreverent mood of the time, described by one critic as “an overground sex-protest film.” Ironically, the film, made specifically for younger audiences, received an X rating, limiting admission to older viewers.

Robert De Niro plays Jon Rubin, a naughty youngster who, despite efforts to avoid the draft, goes to Vietnam and winds up starring in a television newscast. Episodic, Greeting contained several sketches about military conscription, computer-dating, adult movies, jogging in circles around policemen in Central Park, and even the Warren Commission whitewash.  One member of the clique spends his time shooting holes at the Commission report.

In “Sooth-the-Nation” television address, President Johnson tells Americans: “I’m not saying we’ve never had it so good, but that is a fact.” A Bronx secretary, who goes on a date via computer services, lists everything she’s wearing for the date and what it cost, down to her nail polish. The funniest sequence describes an encounter with a salesman of “dirty” movies (the title of the film is “The Delivery Boy and the Bored Housewife”), who sells his product in a Coca Cola package, because “dirty” movies go better with Coke.