Seen it before? Yes.
The first 20 minutes of this movie are almost a short film unto itself. Private Joker (Matthew Modine) endures Marine boot camp with the sadistic Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Honestly I have no idea how you could get through without cracking up, because Hartman is hilarious. He's constantly bellowing insults and obscenities at the recruits, and a lot of them are really funny:
You had best unfuck yourself or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!I would not have made it in the Marines. Anyway, Private Joker is assigned to keep an eye on Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio, plus about 50 pounds) who is lazy and slow-witted. This part of the movie is a cul-de-sac plot wise, but is thematically important, as it shows how the cruelty of war is not restricted to the fight with the enemy.
The rest of the movie follows Private Joker around Vietnam - he is assigned a job as a war correspondent for Stars and Stripes. Incredibly, the movie was shot entirely in England. It looks amazing - that is to say, terrible - just like bombed-out Vietnam. Joker is a callow, sarcastic guy, and isn't really taking the war seriously (his response to the Tet Offensive: "So this means Ann-Margaret isn't coming?") but he gets the sarcasm kicked out of him pretty thoroughly. This is arguably Kubrick's best film, and one of the best Vietnam movies ever.
Position on the list: 84
An ironic counter-point to the action onscreen: The soundtrack. Surfin' Bird? Wooly Bully? Hahahaha