What’s Your Favorite John Wayne War Movie?

From The Sands of Iwo Jima to The Green Berets and beyond, John Wayne was a big-screen military mainstay for three decades. We’re looking for your vote for your favorite war movie featuring the Duke.

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To see a complete list of movie polls, click here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    Lots of Wayne classics missing like “True Grit”, “The Quiet Man”, “3 Godfathers”, “The Searchers” and my own personal favourite, “Red River.”

    • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

      No disrespect intended, but, you do realize this is about War Movies? None of those you listed are in that genre. They are wonderful picks, to be sure! 3 Godfathers is one of my all time favorites!

  • Gary Cahall

    A quick note to our readers: We did indeed remember The Alamo when compling our list of Wayne’s military films for this week’s poll, but decided that the Duke’s 1960 paean to the heroes of the 1836 Texas showdown didn’t really meet the criteria of a “war movie.” You, of course, may feel free to disagree by voting for it under “other,” and comment on your choice here.

    • Wayne P.

      I hate to admit but youre probably right, as when the battle for the Alamo was fought in 1836, Texas was still a Republic and not a member of the United States of America yet, which wouldnt happen until shortly before the Mexican/US war of 1848. At least we won that war even if the Texas freedom fighters lost at the Alamo!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Spartacus-Jones/598323481 Spartacus Jones

        I love THE ALAMO. I think it’s Wayne’s masterpeice, and as myth, it’s a wonderful story. . As HISTORY, however, I would remind you that the “freedom” they were fighting for was the freedom to own slaves. Slavery was illegal in Mexico and the American immigrants wanted to own slaves, secede from Mexico, and come into the union as a slave state. While I admire the personal courage of the men at the Alamo, their cause was not a just or noble one.

        My personal favorite Wayne film is Rio Bravo, closely followed by The Shootist and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
        I’m not a big fan of “war movies.” Most all of them are recruiting films that perpetuate the lie that war is somehow noble and glorious. It isn’t. Even when fighting IS necessary — and it usually is not — it is at best horrifyingly repugnant. (My dad was a WWII vet and would not allow us to watch “war movies” — which he referred to as “pure bullshit.”) There are only a handful of exceptions, films that break away from the mold to tell something of the truth. Platoon is one. Beach Red and Soldier Blue, as well.

        • classicsforever

          Your conclusions about the Texas Revolution are weak. Study. Also, “Platoon” is only marginally accurate. I served with guys who fought in Vietnam (I was in the last draft) and their views and stories of the war were much different. After the Tet Offensive, many of the NVA and VC units were decimated. Their own leaders later admitted they were afraid of losing the war! Too bad our public believed a news media that said there was “no hope”.

  • bjodrie@comcast.net

    Flying Tigers was my pick.Many people think that John Carroll stole the show as cocky,ace Woody.

  • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

    I chose “The Longest Day”. There were so many great stars in the movie that made it a good watch, but they also went so close with the history of that beach landing. I loved the idea of having many stars in the picture, as it told a different tale; there was no one hero on that day! So many men fought, and died, to gain the end of a very long and weary war.

  • rodahaco

    What about “In Harm’s Way”? I’m surprised it wasn’t included.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobheiss29 Bob Heiss

    How did “In Harm’s Way” not make the list? To me that is one of his best war movies.

  • Jim

    My answer is “none of the above”, based on the jingoistic nature of these war movies, and more importantly, the fact that Wayne never served in the military, out of choice. His myth is tarnished by that fact.

    • jack howard

      Hi Jim, I take it you we were not alive and living in the United States during WW2. When You look at one of John’s WW2 movies today You might say “That’s not How it really was”. But to those who had a Loved One in the War, it gave them HOPE, It gave them a feeling that We Could and Would Win the 2nd World War.Do you know how many Men and Women were in Front line Combat Units that were in a Battle in WW2? The number is Small compared to the number of Men and Women who served in the Miltary over all. If your ever in Walmart and see the( DVD) “Victory at Sea”, buy it, it’s only $5 bucks. Watch disc #3, Targert Suribachi. It will give you an Insight into how WW-2 Battles were fought. John did His Part during the War, as no one else could have.

      • Jim

        I am a Vietnam Era child of a military family; my perspective is a little different. I actually happen to like quite a few movies about WWII — my favorite is probably “The Story Of G.I. Joe”, and I like “Battleground” very much as well. My feelings about movies, and John Wayne, in no way influence my feelings about those who have sacrificed for their nation, for whom I have the highest reverence.

        • jack howard

          As far as WW-2 Movies go Jim, I also think “The Story of G.I. Joe” is the Best when it comes to Front line Units, and I also like Battleground as well, it’s a Very Good WW-2 movie too, but both those movies were made after WW-2. The Gunny Ret sends

          • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

            I would like to thank Jim for your comments, they were very good and succinct. I would like to add a side note, if I may. When WWII came about, the Duke was very busy and just didn’t catch it, at first. When he realized what he was about to miss, he went to enlist but was reminded he was under contract. He said he wanted to serve his country, in uniform but not on camera! They told him he was already serving them in a great way and didn’t need to, he insisted. So they said would consider him in breach of contract of sue him for all he had. He went anyway……found out the hard way, that he was too old and had too many physical problems due to his having done his own stunts for so many years. He was 4-F! Continued to serve, in uniform, on camera.

      • jack howard

        I also like The Longest Day

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.slocumb Ken Slocumb

    I see it’s already mentioned, but I consider “In Harm’s Way” his second best war movie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.slocumb Ken Slocumb

    p.s. John Wayne was 34 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If he had enlisted, he most likely would have done exactly what he was already doing to serve his country, and he knew that. Wayne was actually fairly popular with military personnel, and many soldiers said they joined after seeing a John Wayne movie. So, while it’s true he didn’t serve in the military, it shouldn’t be a factor in rating his movies.

    • Arthur_G

      Didn’t he also have an injury that disqualified him from entering the military? I heard it was from when he played football.

  • Nils Goering

    Not on the list, but my favorite John Wayne War film, is Howard Hughes’s JET PILOT. It’s set during the Korean war and the advent of the Cold War. The Duke is in fine shape as a jet pilot who pursues gorgeous Janet Leigh – who’s playing a Russian communist agent and, also, a jet ace. The film was completed in 1950 but wasn’t released until 1957. Jet aircraft was relatively new at the time the film was made so, there are some great aerial shots of jet planes zooming about. Ace aviator, Chuck Yeager, did some of the stunt flying. It’s not a four star film like Wayne’s ‘Sands of Iwo Jima’, ‘The Longest Day’ or ‘The Flying Tigers’ but it’s enormous fun and, for me, a very satisfying film worth multiple viewings. With a stalwart John Wayne hero, a voluptuous Janet Leigh, Chuck Yeager piloting the aircraft, The magnificent U.S. Air Force, Howard Hughes footing the bill, direction by Josef von Sternberg and photography shot in glorious Technicolor, what’s not to like? The posters are also among the best for John Wayne’s films.

    • Vann Morrison

      Nils, There’s a Bob Hope movie made in 1956 titled “The Iron Petticoat” with Katherine Hepburn that almost mirrors Jet Pilot. Of course it’s a Bob hope comedy.

  • Steve C.

    Why was every WWII movie with John Wayne against the Japanese, except the Longest Day, and when he played a German in the Sea Chase? Was it because Hollywood liked using the Japanese when a war scene and
    battle was needed, and the Nazis were best with POW and spy thriller types of movies – oh, and maybe an occasional sub flick.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Brewer/100000960328617 Bruce Brewer

    Seeing Sgt. Stryker getting shot in the back
    made me cry. It was the Duke’s second best performance. His best portrayal was in Red River, which he should have won an Oscar.



  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jodrie Brian Jodrie

    Im glad to see 1942s Reunion In France was NOT on the list.I could never watch that film.Not exactly one of The Dukes best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jodrie Brian Jodrie

    Im glad to see 1942s Reunon in France was included.Not one of The Dukes Best films.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.jodrie Brian Jodrie

    Im glad to see 1942s Reunion In France was NOT included.Not one of The Dukes best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004488580416 John Patterson

    Definitely”Flying Leathernecks”followed by”The Longest Day”and”Sands of Iwo Jima”.

  • Pingback: The Alamo: Remembering A Classic()

  • http://www.facebook.com/vincent.j.anello Vincent J. Anello

    Hard to say it was his best, I would say about third, my other picks first, Eathan in The Searchers,
    Second, Duntston in Red River, forth, The man who shot Liberty Valance

  • Antone

    They Were Expendable. Thanks to the REAL war experience of director John Ford, it showed war in a more realistic light. One man–pulling grenade pins out with his teeth or driving heavy equipment into a gasoline storage tank–could not single-handedly win the war. The officers played by the Duke & Robert Montgomery had to leave their faithful troops and Wayne’s nurse girlfriend to face certain death or imprisonment; while they took the last flight out so that they could train other LST crews for the fight to retake the Pacific islands.

    • ganderson

      Robert Montgomery, who got top billing over the Duke, had actually commanded a PT Boat (note, not LST) during the war, which made him a particularly apt choice for the role.

      • Antone

        Sorry about that. I was an Army guy bouncing around in the back of a deuce-and-a-half. To me a boat was a boat was a boat.

    • jumbybird

      The first couple of times I saw this, I viewed as a throwaway war movie, but since then, I’ve come to like it more and more.
      I think he would have met up with his girlfriend after the war… all the 77 real life nurses taken prisoner in the Philippines survived the POW camps.

  • DWMurray

    What about the 1952 film, The Quiet Man? Directed by John Ford, with Maureen O’Hara and that unforgetable cross country brawl between Wayne and Victor Mclaglen. Priceless!!!

    • Jason Christiansen

      that was not a “John Wayne” “War” movie

  • Bryan Ruffin

    Horse Soldiers is the vote I cast! I loved seeing John Wayne in such a different, dark,view! It was a western, he was in command, but he also knew his men would probably never be seem again. That was a tough role to play! The Duke was always one to stand so firmly behind his countries leaders, this was a portrait of a man that followed orders to the best of his abilities, even if he disagreed.