Friendly Fire
Based onFriendly Fire by C. D. B. Bryan
Written byFay Kanin
Directed byDavid Greene
StarringCarol Burnett
Ned Beatty
Sam Waterston
Music byLeonard Rosenman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerMartin Starger
ProducersPhilip Barry Jr.
Fay Kanin
Production locationStockton, California
CinematographyHarry J. May
EditorMichael Economou
Running time147 minutes
Production companiesMarble Arch Productions
Martin Starger Productions
Original release
ReleaseApril 22, 1979 (1979-04-22)

Friendly Fire is an American television movie first broadcast on the ABC network on April 22, 1979. Watched that night by an estimated 64 million people,[1] Friendly Fire went on to win four Emmy awards, including Outstanding Drama Special.[2] The film was directed by David Greene.[3]

The movie tells the real-life story of Peg Mullen (played by Carol Burnett),[4] a woman from rural Iowa who with her husband works against government obstacles to uncover the actual details and facts about the death of their son Michael, an Army infantry soldier killed by "friendly fire" in February 1970 during the Vietnam War. Her husband Gene, a World War II veteran, is played by Ned Beatty.

Sergeant Mullen was drafted in September 1968 after he graduated from college and sent to South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam) assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal Division) in September 1969.[5] He was listed as a non-battle casualty after being accidentally killed with another soldier from an exploding Army artillery shell burst fragment, while Mullen and most of his platoon were asleep at night on their hilltop position; the government did not report publicly the number of non-battle deaths or their names on its weekly casualty lists during the war.

Friendly Fire is adapted by Fay Kanin[4] from C. D. B. Bryan's 1976 book of the same name.[6] The book was adapted from a series of New Yorker magazine articles Bryan had written about the Mullens and their ordeal.[7]


See also


  1. ^ Brown, Les. "ABC's 'Friendly Fire' Drew 64 Million." The New York Times, April 25, 1979, p. C22. Archived from the original.
  2. ^ "1978–1979 Emmy Awards.", updated February 11, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2020. Archived from the original.
  3. ^ "Friendly Fire". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Gamarekian, Barbara. "Why Carol Burnett Made 'Friendly Fire'." The New York Times, April 21, 1979, p. 15. Archived from the original.
  5. ^ Michael Eugene Mullen. Iowa Veterans Remembrance Project
  6. ^ Bryan, Courtlandt Dixon Barnes (1976). Friendly Fire (1st ed.). New York City: Penguin Adult HC/TR. ISBN 978-0399116889.
  7. ^ "Peg Mullen (1917- ): Papers, 1968-2003." Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries. Archived from the original on October 20, 2008. Accessed November 25, 2008.