The Hughes brothers’ film, the dead presidents, commences with a stack of high-denomination bills burning on a slow fire. The directors, Hugh brothers’ wish the audience to meditate or ponder over the title of the movie as provided by this initial image of presidents burning, the high-denominations stack of notes. The film highlights the story of Antony with more concentration on his experience as teenage after his high school graduation and the Vietnam War. On his return, he faces an up hill task inn supporting himself and his family which eventually leads him to a life in crime.
The movie begins with the High school graduation of Antony where he is optimistic about his future life. He works together with his homeboys, Jose and Skip to deliver milk in the early mornings. He does not wish to go to college but envisions bright future which will take them beyond their neighborhood while joking at the back of the delivery track. Antony’s friends laugh at his idea of joining the Marines since they perceive it as the ‘white man’s war’ due to the fact that it was widely known after the Tet Offensive that it was a mess and so would be the coming war in Vietnam. The fact that they were riding at the back of a dark, cramped milk before dawn in the streets full of row houses made it clear that they would inevitable all go to Vietnam (Luce 2010).
The movie shows that there are limited options left to people. All the scenes endeavor to intensify Antony’s increasing frustrations and diminishing resistance. He is repeatedly confined enclosed places such as: in a smoky pool hall located at a corner at his graduation party and inside cars and doorways with Skip and Jose accompanying him most of the time. In addition he feels confined by the building walls where he runs numbers for the Kirby, the Korean War Veteran in the pool hall (Craddock 1996).
The horror of losing a number of his fellow marines in during combat disturbs Antony severely. The marines on the other hand commit atrocities such as beheading corpses and executing enemy prisoners. One marine in their squad, D’ambrosio requests Antony to help him die, which he obliges by giving him a dose of morphine, after he was disemboweled and castrated alive. Another r marine in their squad dies after stepping on a land mine. A night ambush leaves half of Antony’s platoon dead but Antony and the remaining succeed to escape (Luce 2010).
Antony finds that normal life in Bronx after his return is not pleasant. Skip his friend has become a heroine addict and Jose who lost his hand has become a pyromaniac. Antony is unable to support his family when he is laid off from his job as a butcher. They, together with Jose, Kirby, Jose, Cleon and Delilah, his girlfriend’s sister forma a gang to rob an armored car parked outside the Federal Reserve Bank of the Bronx. Their plan is squashed by the police who engage them in a gunfight. Jose uses an excessive amount of explosives on the armored car which results in the burning of most of the cash, dead presidents and destroying the car completely. They take the remaining cash and make for their escape. Delilah and Jose are killed during the robbery but the rest escape. However, Skip is later found dead in his apartment from taking excess heroine while Cleon and Antony are rounded up by the police and taken to prison. This is indeed a disgrace to officers who served their country even at war in a foreign country. They bare indeed dead presidents