The Green Berets
Directed by Ray Kellogg, John Wayne and Mervyn LeRoy (Uncredited)
Written by Robin Moore (novel) and James Lee Barrett
Produced by Michael Wayne
Cinematography by Winton C. Hoch
Distributed by Warner Bros. /Seven Arts
John Wayne as Col. Mike Kirby
David Janssen as George Beckworth
Jim Hutton as Sergeant Petersen
Aldo Ray as Sergeant Muldoon
Raymond St. Jacques as Doc McGee
Bruce Cabot as Colonel Morgan
George Takei as Captain Nim
Luke Askew as Sergeant Provo
Jack Soo as Colonel Cai
Patrick Wayne as Lieutenant Jamison
Irene Tsu as Lin
Special Forces Col. Mike Kirby takes command of a strike camp operating deep in enemy territory near Da Nang. The unit is saddled with liberal war correspondent Beckworth, whose newspaper is decidedly against the American involvement in Vietnam. Although the soldiers are also working with the South Vietnamese army and local tribesmen, the Viet Cong are able to capture the camp. Beckworth observes the torture of a Viet Cong spy, and protests the methods of the Green Berets, until he also witnesses firsthand the atrocities the Viet Cong are committing. This so sickens the reporter that he has a change of heart about American involvement and even participates in some of the fighting. After a series of harsh battles, Kirby and his men are able to retake the strike camp with the aid of air support. Kirby recruits Lin, a Vietnamese model whose father was killed by the Viet Cong, to help him capture a high ranking Viet Cong officer, after which they return to the camp for questioning. On the way back to camp, the unit stumbles upon a booby trap which kills Sgt. Peterson and Kirby is faced with the grim task of explaining to young Ham Chuck, a boy orphaned by the war that Peterson unofficially adopted, about sacrifice, honor and duty.
Most of the film was shot at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In the background you see pine forests where jungle trees should be.
While George Takei was filming this movie, he missed out on being in the famous “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode of Star Trek.
Original versions of the film starred Vera Miles as Wayne’s wife; however the scenes were cut in the final release. To make it up to Vera, Wayne insisted that she be cast as his wife in his next film, Hellfighters (1969).
Wayne wrote to Democratic President Lyndon Johnson directly to request military assistance for this movie. Jack Valenti offered this advice to the president, "Wayne's politics are wrong, but if he makes this film he will be helping us". Wayne was able to get the support he needed, and the movie went on to become very controversial.
Warner Bros. was apprehensive about John Wayne directing this film, as the last film that he directed, The Alamo (1960), had gone over budget and was a failure at the box office. They would only support the picture if he used another director, so Wayne chose B-movie director Ray Kellogg.
The three lead actors in this film all died roughly eight months apart: Hutton on June 2, 1979, Wayne on June 11, 1979, and Janssen on February 13, 1980.
The film was criticized by many for glamorizing the Vietnam war. Oliver Stone’s acclaimed anti-war movie Platoon was written partially as a reaction to this film.
For the music, John Wayne’s good friend and long time collaborator, Elmer Bernstein, turned down the assignment due to his political beliefs.
The Green Berets - Trailer