Good Morning, Vietnam
|Good Morning, Vietnam|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Barry Levinson|
|Written by||Mitch Markowitz|
|Music by||Alex North|
|Edited by||Stu Linder|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$123.9 million|
Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American comedy-drama war film written by Mitch Markowitz and directed by Barry Levinson. Set in Saigon in 1965, during the Vietnam War, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ on Armed Forces Radio Service, who proves hugely popular with the troops, but infuriates his superiors with what they call his "irreverent tendency". The story is loosely based on the experiences of AFRS radio DJ Adrian Cronauer.
Most of Williams' radio broadcasts were improvised. The film was a critical and commercial success; for his work in the film, Williams won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film is number 100 on the list of the "American Film Institute's 100 Funniest American Movies".
In 1965, Airman First Class Adrian Cronauer arrives in Saigon to work as a DJ for Armed Forces Radio Service. Cronauer is met at the airport by PFC Edward Garlick. Cronauer's attitude and demeanor contrasts sharply with many staff members. His show consists of irreverent humor segments and rock and roll, which are frowned upon by his superiors, Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk and Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson. Hauk adheres to strict Army guidelines in terms of humor and music programming, while Dickerson is generally abusive to all enlisted men. However, Brigadier General Taylor and the other DJs quickly grow to like the new man and his brand of comedy.
Cronauer meets Trinh, a Vietnamese girl, and follows her to an English class. Bribing the teacher to let him take over, Cronauer instructs the students in American slang. Once class is dismissed, he tries to talk to Trinh but is stopped by her brother Tuan. Instead, Cronauer takes Tuan to Jimmy Wah's, a local GI bar, to have drinks with Garlick and the station staff. Two soldiers, angered at Tuan's presence, initiate a confrontation that escalates into a brawl.
Dickerson reprimands Cronauer for this incident, but his broadcasts continue. While relaxing in Jimmy Wah's one afternoon, he is pulled outside by Tuan, who says that Trinh wants to see him. Moments later, the building explodes, killing two soldiers and leaving Cronauer shaken. The cause of the explosion is determined to be a bomb; the news is censored, but Cronauer locks himself in the studio and reports it anyway. Dickerson cuts off the broadcast and Cronauer is suspended. Hauk takes over his shows, but his corny humor and the polka music he plays lead to a flood of letters and phone calls demanding that Cronauer be put back on the air.
In the meantime, Cronauer spends his time drinking and pursuing Trinh, only to be repeatedly rebuffed. At the radio station, Taylor intervenes on Cronauer's behalf, ordering Hauk to reinstate him, but Cronauer refuses to go back to work. Garlick and Cronauer's vehicle is stopped in a congested street amidst a convoy of soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division, who persuade him to do an impromptu "broadcast" before they go off to fight. The incident reminds him why his job is important, and he soon returns to the air.
Dickerson seizes an opportunity to get rid of Cronauer by approving his request to interview soldiers in the field, knowing that the highway to An Lộc is controlled by the Viet Cong. Cronauer and Garlick's Jeep hits a mine and they are forced to hide from VC patrols. In Saigon, Tuan learns of the trip after Cronauer fails to show up for English class. He steals a van and drives off after them. After finding them, the van breaks down and they flag down a Marine helicopter to take them back to the city.
At the station, Dickerson tells Cronauer that he is off the air for good. His friend Tuan is revealed as a VC operative who was responsible for the bombing of Jimmy Wah's. Dickerson has arranged for an honorable discharge. General Taylor arrives and informs Cronauer that, regrettably, he cannot help him since his friendship with Tuan would damage the reputation of the US Army. After Cronauer leaves, Taylor informs Dickerson that he is transferring him to Guam, citing Dickerson's vindictive attitude as the reason.
Cronauer chases down Tuan, decrying his actions against American soldiers. Emerging from the shadows, Tuan retorts that the US army has devastated his family, and for him that makes the United States the enemy. On his way to the airport with Garlick, under MP escort, Cronauer sets up a quick softball game for the students from his English class, where he says goodbye to Trinh. As he boards the plane, he gives Garlick a taped farewell message; Garlick – taking Cronauer's place as DJ – plays the tape on the air the next morning.
- Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer
- Forest Whitaker as Edward Garlick
- Tung Thanh Tran as Tuan
- Chintara Sukapatana as Trinh
- Bruno Kirby as Lt. Steven Hauk
- Robert Wuhl as Marty Lee Dreiwitz
- J. T. Walsh as Sgt. Major Dickerson
- Noble Willingham as Gen. Taylor
- Richard Edson as Pvt. Abersold
- Richard Portnow as Dan "The Man" Levitan
- Floyd Vivino as Eddie Kirk
- Juney Smith as Sergeant Phil McPherson
- Củ Bà Nguyễn as Jimmy Wah
In 1979, Adrian Cronauer pitched a sitcom based on his experiences as an AFRS DJ. TV networks were not interested, however, because they did not see war as comedy material, even though one of the most popular shows at the time was M*A*S*H. Cronauer then revamped his sitcom into a script for a TV movie of the week, which eventually got the attention of Robin Williams. Very little of Cronauer's original treatment remained after writer Mitch Markowitz was brought in.
Commenting on the accuracy of the film, the real-life Cronauer commented "I'm very happy with it. Of course, it was never intended to be an accurate point-by-point biography. It was intended as a piece of entertainment, and (Williams) was playing a character named Adrian Cronauer who shared a lot of my experiences. But actually, he was playing Robin Williams." Commenting on his portrayal in the film, Cronauer said "Anybody who has been in the military will tell you that if I did half the things in that movie, I’d still be in Leavenworth right now. A lot of Hollywood imagination went into the movie. I was a disk jockey in Vietnam and I did teach English in my spare time. I was not thrown out of Vietnam; I stayed for my full one-year tour and I was honorably discharged." None of the people in the film are based on actual people Cronauer met, although he described them as stereotypes of military personnel who existed at the time. The scenes where Cronauer teaches his class to swear and use "street slang", his pursuit of a Vietnamese woman, and his Jeep being blown up in the jungle, among others, are constructs for the plot and never happened to Cronauer.
According to Cronauer, he and Williams were forbidden by Levinson to meet each other because the director "was afraid that if Robin and I met, that Robin would somehow start to do an unconscious imitation of me, which would change his characterization." Williams and Cronauer eventually did meet at the film's New York premiere.
Good Morning, Vietnam was one of the most successful films of the year, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 1987.
The film received outstanding reviews from film critics. The website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles critical reviews for movies, gave a rating of 90% and the consensus: "A well-calibrated blend of manic comedy and poignant drama, Good Morning, Vietnam offers a captivating look at a wide range of Robin Williams' cinematic gifts." Both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel of the review show Siskel and Ebert awarded the film "Two Thumbs Up", with Ebert giving the film a four out of four star review in the Chicago Sun-Times. Richard Corliss of Time called the film "the best military comedy since M*A*S*H", and named it one of the best films of the year. Vincent Canby of the New York Times called the film a cinematic "tour de force" and described Williams' performance as "the work of an accomplished actor". Much of the acclaim went to Williams' performance, a role that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.
The film was not without its detractors, however. Hal Hinson of The Washington Post, for example, notably gave the film a negative review. While praising Williams, he felt the film was "compulsory and condescending", and that the film was merely "a Robin Williams concert movie welded clumsily onto the plot from an old Danny Kaye picture."
Awards and honors
- Robin Williams won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, and an American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role). He was also nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award, a Best Actor BAFTA Award, and a Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor.
- Forest Whitaker was awarded a Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actor for his work on this film and Bird.
- Alex North was awarded the ASCAP Award for the film's original music.
- The film won the Political Film Society Award for Peace, and was nominated for a Best Sound BAFTA Award.
- AMC named Good Morning, Vietnam one of the 20 greatest war movies of all time.
- In 2000, American Film Institute included the film in AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs (#100).
The soundtrack album was certified platinum in the US. Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" was released as a single because of the film and reached position 32 on the US Top 40, 20 years after its original release.
In 1992, Mark Frost wrote a sequel screenplay, Good Morning, Chicago. The film would have featured Williams, reprising his role as Cronauer, as a journalist at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. The project was eventually scrapped, due to disagreements between Williams, Levinson, and The Walt Disney Company, over the film's direction.
- IMDb: Box office and business for Good Morning, Vietnam Retrieved 2012-04-17
- Barthold, Jim (March 1, 2005). "The Real Life of Adrian Cronauer". Urgent Communications. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Adrian Cronauer interview by Paul Harris, The Paul Harris Show, KMOX, April 28, 2006
- Mullen, Rodger. "Heroes Homecoming: For 'Good Morning' guy Adrian Cronauer, Vietnam feels like yesterday". Fay Observer, Nov 10, 2011. The Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, N.C. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
- Schogol, Jeff (12 August 2014). "Real-life 'Vietnam' DJ recalls Williams' portrayal". USA Today. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- Good Morning, Vietnam - Rotten Tomatoes
- Roger Ebert's Review of Good Morning, Vietnam
- Vincent Canby's Review of Good Morning, Vietnam
- "Robin Williams – Inside The Actors Studio", June 10, 2001
- Hal Hinson's review of Good Morning, Vietnam
- IMDb: Awards for Good Morning, Vietnam Retrieved 2012-04-17
- Top 20 Greatest War Movies - AMC Retrieved 2014-10-06
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- Joel Whitburn, Top Pop Albums 1955–2001 (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, 2001), 1016.
- "What A Wonderful World - Song Information". Oracle Band. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
- Brennan, Patricia (September 2, 1990). "MAGIC? VOODOO?". Washington Post.
- Mabery, D.L. (June 6, 1992). "For writer-director Mark Frost, life after David Lynch and 'Twin Peaks' goes on". Post Bulletin.
- Clint, Caffeinated (December 7, 2011). "Exclusive: Williams on Mrs Doubtfire, Birdcage, Good Morning Vietnam sequels". Moviehole.
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