One of the most controversial movies John Wayne ever made was “The Green Berets”. The Vietnam war was less than popular anywhere in America. When Wayne made the movie, a great many believed he was in support of the war in its totality, which was far from the case. The truth was he was in support of America and against Communism. Duke had a real blind spot when it came to the “communist menace”. He knew there was only one way to get rid of it, and sending “advisors” to get shot up in Vietnam, wasn’t his idea of a fix. It was either all or nothing.
Since American politicians were taking a rather half-hearted approach to Vietnam, Duke wanted to make a “propaganda” film explaining why we were there.
The movie was generally considered maudlin and simple. The ending with the boy Ham-Chunk, (when Wayne tells the boy, “You let me worry about that Green Beret. You’re what this is all about”) hit a nerve with the critics.
In fact the critics ate it alive. Wayne was roasted everywhere for his stance. But the public vindicated him. Despite the negative feelings about the war, the movie going public paid for the movie in its first 3 months.
While many didn’t understand the point Wayne was trying to make, the people expected this position from Wayne. Although most may have disagreed with Vietnam, they respected Wayne enough to accept his position. Not everyone could have gotten away with that. But somehow coming from John Wayne, it seemed acceptable on both sides of the aisle.
Review by: N. J. HIRSCH