SYNOPSIS: In 1965, Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) arrives in Saigon to start a gig as a DJ on Armed Services Radio. He immediately rocks the boat with his rock and roll playlist and his ad-libs which poke fun at the military. He has a romance with a local girl and befriends her brother, who turns out to be in the Viet Cong. Cronauer becomes very popular with his soldier audience, but greatly infuriates his boss who is determined to make him toe the line.
BACK-STORY: “Good Morning, Vietnam” was released in 1987 and was a huge hit. It was the fourth highest grossing film that year. The film had its genesis from Adrian Cronauer shopping a script for a TV series or made for TV movie. He was unsuccessful until Robin Williams got wind of the story and decided he wanted to play a manic disc jockey in Vietnam. Barry Levinson directed from a script by Mitch Markowitz. Very little of Cronauer’s script was used. The movie was shot in Bangkok, Thailand. Williams was nominated for Best Actor and won the Golden Globe for his role. The film is #100 on AFI’s list of best comedies.
TRIVIA: Wikipedia, imdb, TCM, History.net
1. The movie is based on the experiences of Adrian Cronauer. Cronauer was in the Army and was a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio Service in Vietnam in 1965. He did a morning show and opened with “Goooooood Morning, Vietnam” (his “gooood” was twice as long as Robin Williams). He wrote a screen treatment that he hoped to sell as a TV series and then as a TV movie. Although “MASH” was hot at the time, the studios were not interested in a Vietnam comedy.
2. Williams was made aware of the treatment and pushed for making the movie. The script in the movie, by screenwriter Mitch Markowitz (who had written for “MASH”, used very little of Cronauer’s script. Cronauer liked the movie but admitted that “Robin Williams played Robin Williams”.
3. The movie was filmed in Thailand. They had trouble getting Asian extras because the movie “Off Limits” was in production at the same time.
4. As far as accuracy, Cronauer was a disc jockey for AFRS and he did teach an English class. That’s about it.
5. Director Barry Levinson forbade Williams from meeting Cronauer because he was afraid Williams would imitate Cronauer in the movie. Levinson heard tapes of Cronauer and did not think he was funny.
6. The movie finished #5 at the box office in 1987.
7. After the success of the film, Cronauer went to law school and became an attorney specializing in media law.
8. Cu Ba Nguyen (Jimmy Wah) had been a military prisoner and had escaped from Cambodia.
Belle and Blade = 4.5
Brassey’s = 2.0
Video Hound = 4.4
War Movies = N/A
Military History = not on list
Channel 4 = #31
Film Site = no
101 War Movies = yes
Rotten Tomatoes = #64
OPINION: GMV is highly acclaimed and highly overrated. It totally relies for its fame on Williams’ improvs on the air. This makes Williams’ Oscar nod a bit perplexing since he was essentially playing himself. The rest of the movie, while being admirably sincere, does not warrant the praise it got. It is curiously tame in its criticism of the war. Cronauer is anti-army, anti-censorship, anti-authority and anti-polka, but not really anti-war. What is depressing is 18987 saw three significant Vietnam War movies. GMV made $124 million, Full Metal Jacket made $46 million, and Hamburger Hill made $13 million. Americans preferred a movie about a standup comedian dropped into the war. Gag.