Directed by George McCowan
Written by Stanley R. Greenberg
Starring Martin Landau, Jane Alexander, Brock Peters, Martin Sheen, Pat O'Brien, Forrest Tucker
In the 60s and 70s, most made for TV movies were crappy. This was before the miniseries, and the networks, desperate for content and seeing how well theatrical movies did for them, started making their own. But without the budget and talent. Every once in awhile, someone thing might reach the level of not half bad (e.g., The Questor Tapes), but most had a long way to go to reach mediocre (e.g., Genesis II, Planet Earth).
It may be faint praise to say that Welcome Home, Johnny Bristol was one of the best, but it was a pretty good movie on its own merits.
Johnny Bristol (Martin Landau) was a released Vietnam war POW, who had managed to stay sane by remembering his life before the war in his home town of Charles, Vermont. When released, he heads home.
Only there is no Charles, Vermont. Bristol has reason to believe that the government has done something to hide the town and all records of its existence. Of course, they portray him as a psycho Vietnam vet, but he refuses to accept their story and goes to find the truth. Anne Palmer (Jane Alexander) is a nurse who begins to believe he may be on to something.
The story was one of the first to focus on returning Vietnam veterans. And while it seems to fit in with the "crazy Vietnam vet" cliche, it transcends this by Martin Landau's fine performance. His Bristol is like Fox Muldur, who knows the truth is out there, but is frustrated in his attempts to find it. Landau was best known for this point as being Rollin Hand from the original Mission: Impossible (as a guest star in each episode due to contract considerations), and this was one of his first roles after that.
It also had some things to say about the difficulties transitioning to life after Vietnam. I've seen it compared to The Best Years of Our Lives in that respect (though I can't be sure the person who called it such ever actually saw Johnny Bristol). The story is ultimately about Bristol's readjustment and the mystery of Charles, Vermont, though solved in the end, it less important than Bristol's learning to cope with life after being a POW.
CBS aired the show in January of 1972. Like most TV movies, it got very little notice and was quickly forgotten (I couldn't find an image of it on the Internet). There may be DVDs, but they're scarce, too.
Few made for TV movies reached this level, so it's a shame that it's so hard to find. If you can see it, by all means give it a shot.