John Wayne War Movies

Monday, March 21 by Wendy Adams

What is more American or entertaining than these John Wayne war movies? Each John Wayne war movie includes an all star celebrity cast made up of a lot of Wayne’s friends. John Wayne left film audiences a score of quality war movies that also told stories of humanity, romance, and the hardships of war.

  1. Th Fighting Seabees.” (1944) John Wayne brought attention to the plight of the Seabees who were construction workers that built air strips, and whatever else was needed, in dangerous places making them vulnerable to attack because they were unarmed. Lt. Commander Donovan fought to make changes to help the Seabees. It stars John Wayne as Lt. Commander Wedge Donovan, Susan Hayward as Constance Chesley, and Dennis O’Keefe as Lt Commander Robert Yarrow.
  2. Back to Bataan.” (1945) After the Allies-held Bataan was lost to the Japanese, Colonel Joseph Madden (John Wayne), Captain Andres Bonifacio (Anthony Quinn) form a guerilla force to fight the Japanese. The all star supporting cast include Beulah Bondi and Vladimir Sokoloff.
  3. They Were Expendable.” (1945) This is a dramatic story about the important addition of PT boats in the Japanese held South Pacific during World War II. John Wayne plays Lt. J.G. Rusty Ryan, while Robert Montgomery stars as Lt. John Brickley, Donna Reed as Lt. Sandy Davyss, and Ward Bond as ‘Boats’ Mulcahey C.B.M.
  4. Operation Pacific.” (1951) World War In submarine Commander Lt. Commander Duke E. Gifford (John Wayne) fights his way through the Japanese fleet on a dangerous mission with Commander John T. ‘Pop’ Perry (Ward Bond). Gifford has the task of finding out why torpedoes wouldn’t explode. There is a lot of thrilling action in the battle scenes.
  5. Flying Leathernecks.” (1951) This is the historic tale of Major Daniel X. Kirby (John Wayne) who leads his squadron of flyers, the Wildcats, into the battle of Guadalcanal. "Flying Leathernecks" is the story of the brave Marine fighter pilots who fought in the skies from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. Robert Ryan plays Captain Carl ‘Griff’ Griffin. It's a compelling story of war.
  6. Wings of Eagles.” (1957) This is the story of U.S. Navy pilot Frank ‘Spig’ Wead (John Wayne) who fights, to the point of obsession, to prove the value of aviation in war and combat to a reluctant Navy. Dan Dailey plays Jughead Carson, who helps Spig recover from an accident that paralyzed him but took him into a new career of screenwriting. This stars Maureen O’Hara as Min Wead, Spig’s estranged wife.
  7. The Longest Day.” (1962) The winner of two Academy Awards, this brilliant black and white war film depicts the events of D-Day in chronological order from the point of view of the Allied forces and the German Army. An all star cast includes John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Eddie Albert, Paul Anka, and Sean Connery.
  8. In Harms’ Way” (1965) This is one of the best World War II movies that begins the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and follows Captain Rockwell Torrey (John Wayne) through every battle, from being relieved of command after December 7, 1942 to his rise to Admiral. It also stars Kirk Douglas as his friend, Commande Paul Eddington Jr., and Patricia Neal as Lt. Maggie Haynes, the nurse he loves. It is a beautifully told tale of war, sacrifice and romance.
  9. Cast a Giant Shadow.” (1966) Colonel David “Mickey” Marcus (Kirk Douglas) is given the task of training Israeli troops who must defend the new state of Israel. John Wayne plays General Mike Randolph. Much of the movie was filmed on location where the events actually happened.
  10. The Green Berets.” (1968) John Wayne plays Colonel Mike Kirby who leads two Special Forces teams on special missions in Vietnam. David Janssen is combative journalist George Beckworth and Jim Hutton is Sergeant Petersen. This is an interesting first look at guerrilla warfare for American audiences.