When we think of John Wayne movies we probably think Western. In fact, the Duke made a number of war movies. Here are a few favorites.
John Wayne starred in the submarine film “Operation Pacific” as Lieutenant Commander Duke Gifford. This was a 1951 film about the submarine service in World War II. When the skipper of the Thunderfish is killed Lt. Commander Gifford takes control of the submarine. A complex problem arises with the torpedoes and was solved by the submarine crew. This act was based on an actual event. “Operation Pacific” gave good insight into the dangers of life in the submarine service and the bravery of the men who served. Some fans think this was John Wayne’s best war movie.
The “Green Berets” was a 1968 film about the exploits of the American Special Forces during the Vietnam War. It was filmed at a time when the United States was deeply involved in the war. John Wayne wanted to do the film to try and counteract some of the objections to America‘s participation in this conflict. “Green Berets” was a film supporting the war. The Duke played the role of Green Beret Col. Mike Kirby. In addition to their military role the Green Berets engaged in humanitarian efforts on behalf of the civilian citizens The film received many negative reviews and was soundly criticized for glorifying the Vietnam War. Even so, the “Green Berets” was a commercial success at the box office. Perhaps its success was due to all the negative comments the film received.
John Wayne was nominated for the Academy Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role for the “Sands of Iwo Jima”. In the 1949 film he portrayed John Stryker a Marine Sergeant during World War II. Sgt. Stryker was resented by his men for the rigorous training he insisted they do. When they are confronted by the reality of battle at Iwo Jima they realize how important his insistence on training had been. The squad is able to see the flag being raised after the battle. Unfortunately while the squad is resting between fighting a sniper kills Sgt Stryker. When John Wayne received his footprint at Graumn’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood included in that footprint material was some sand from Iwo Jima.
The Duke never actually served in the military. He did visit many of the war zones and was a popular figure with men in all branches of the services. In fact, some men enlisted in the service as a result of watching John Wayne in his war movies
Recommended: Another classic war movie that starred not only John Wayne but also included an all star cast with the likes of Robert Ryan, Richard Burton and Henry Fonda. That movie of course was the “The Longest Day” the epic story of the D-Day landing on Normandy. If you hadn’t seen this one in a while or wanted to add it to your collection, head over to Amazon and pick up – The Longest Day 2 DVD collectors edition.