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Thursday, 22 October 2009


John Wayne will always be seen as the definitive screen cowboy but he often worked in other genres, crime, comedy, drama and war movies. Some of his non-western excursions were forgettable but there were a fair few classic there - The Quiet Man for one but outside of the westerns it is perhaps for war movies that Wayne is best remembered.

Here is the Archive's list of the 5 best John Wayne War movies:

1- Green Berets - I know this movie is often criticised for it's "gung ho" attitude and flag waving but as a movie it doesn't go far wrong. Wayne play his usual heroic character and David Janssen is the doubter who soon raises his weapons in the defence of liberty when he realises what it's really all about. Ignore the doubters and sit back and enjoy this movie for the screen entertainment that it is.

2-The Flying Tigers - Made in 1942 this movie was very much intended to boost morale during the mid-point of the war. Cowards redeem themselves and good ultimately triumphs over evil thanks to some steely eyed heroics from the Duke.

3- The Longest Day - Whilst Wayne is only a small part in the massive cast that makes up this drama about D-Day it deserves to be included here - not only is it a great war movie but Wayne plays his cameo role wonderfully. The advertising posters boasted of 48 international stars in the cast and the movie took two Oscars in 1962.

4- Operation Pacific - Set in the Philippines this looks at the operations of the American submarine crews. The Duke plays Lt. Duke E. Gifford in this tense drama that really should be better remembered than it is.

5-In Harms Way - The Duke, Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda. What a cast! And that's not to mention Burgess Meredith, George Kennedy and Slim Pickens. This is another tension filled movie about the attack on Pearl Harbour. It's an 160 minute epic and well worth watching.


Ray said...

Not to mention one of his best war movies 'The Sands Of Iwo Jima' one of the few movies where John Wayne gets killed in the end.
Or 'The Fighting SeeBees' or 'They Were Expendable'.
If 'The Searchers' was his best western then 'The Wings Of Eagles' has to be the equivelent war movie.
This is the one where Wayne plays Frank 'Spig' Wead. With his marriage (to Maureen O'Hara) is on the rocks Wead takes a fall downstairs and snaps his spine. The film covers his fight to walk again and, with the outbreak of WW2 gets himself into the navy. Brilliant movie.
Frank Wead became a Hollywood scriptwriter and wrote the screenplay for that other John Ford/John Wayne movie 'They Were Expendable'.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Ray - there are so many but these are just five of my favourites. Sands of Iwo Jima is another great one but I wan't that keen on Wings of Eagle. Each to their own

Laurie Powers said...

I can't stand The Quiet Man but I love The Longest Day.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Laurie you surprise me - the quiet man is great

Laurie Powers said...

The Duke's fine in it, but I thought the movie went absolutely nowhere. Plus I couldn't get past the whole concept of taking Maureen O'Hara "in hand" and making it 'cute.' But that's me. Like you said, to each her own.