Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Veterans Day 2023: The Best John Wayne War Movies

Veterans Day 2023: The Best John Wayne War Movies

John Wayne films are must-see viewing for Veterans Day 2023. Here are a few of the Duke’s best outings in military-themed movies.

‘The Green Berets’

Wayne symbolized American red-blooded patriotism in his five-decade Hollywood career. He was renowned for his westerns and also starred in a dozen World War II movies. However, he did manage to make a Vietnam-era war picture.

In 1968’s The Green Berets Wayne aimed to change public opinion about the Vietnam War. Wayne, who co-directed the film, took a heavy-handed patriotic stance, but critics criticized his attempt to claim the moral high ground. Decades later, The Green Berets may have faced harsh criticism. While it may have downplayed American soldiers’ misconduct, it highlighted the Viet Cong’s atrocities against civilians and efforts to counter Communist expansion in Southeast Asia. The film may seem overly supportive of American intervention, but its intense battle scenes make it worth watching.

‘The Alamo’

The Alamo, directed by John Wayne, cleverly blends his iconic Western and War themes. It depicts the one-sided struggle for Texas freedom in 1836. This epic took fourteen years and twelve million dollars to create. The movie showcases the Duke’s trademark elements, like jovial camaraderie and playful banter.

However, the 1960 film truly shines in the second half with intense battles between the brave resistance and the tyrannical army. It brilliantly portrays the heroic last-ditch efforts of Texas resistance soldiers, led by General Sam Houston, against the formidable Mexican army commanded by Santa Anna. The film captures the chaos and sacrifices made by these fighters in their quest for a brighter future, making it a must-see.

‘Sands of Iwo Jima’

The 1949 film Sands of Iwo Jima cemented the Marine Corps’ Iwo Jima legacy and helped restore Wayne’s reputation after not serving in World War II. Wayne’s portrayal of Marine Sgt. John Stryker, a tough leader initially disliked by his men but earning their respect as they conquered Mount Suribachi, earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. The film also received Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing and Best Writing.

‘They Were Expendable’

1945’s They Were Expendable might be one of Wayn’e’s most realistic war pictures. Lieutenant John Brickley and Lieutenant “Rusty” Ryan lead a squadron of nimble “PT” boats. Despite the underestimation of these small vessels, they are determined to prove their worth. After the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and a significant triumph, they are dispatched to the Philippines to thwart an advancing Japanese fleet armed with superior firepower. Wayne and Robert Montgomery embody the valorous sailors who bravely risked their lives, showcasing the pivotal role of boats and innovative tactics in the Pacific theater of war. Director John Ford, writer Frank Mead, and top-billed actor Montgomery, all with Navy experience, created a highly realistic portrayal.

The Must Watch Veterans Day 2023 John Wayne Film…’The Longest Day’

The Longest Day depicts the events leading to and during the Allied invasion of France. The film shows the challenges faced by the Allied forces, like adverse weather conditions, in planning the D-Day invasion. It also highlights the unintentional assistance provided to the Allied troops due to the Germans’ mistakes and poor judgment.

John Wayne has a supporting role in this 1962 film, but a star-studded cast including Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Roddy McDowall, and more brings D-Day to life in vivid detail.