Throughout his career, John Carpenter has always stuck to his guns when it comes to his filmmaking philosophy. He prefers to deliver cinematic works that rouse the senses and the emotions rather than pose any particularly philosophical or idealistic questions to his audiences, and it’s fair to say that his filmography does just that.
Over the last five decades, Carpenter has spooked up out with Halloween and The Fog, created strange worlds and beings in the form of The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China and showcased some of the finest, tongue-in-cheek action movie moments in the likes of Escape From New York and Assault on Precinct 13.
There’s certainly an edge of guilty pleasure to the films of John Carpenter, and the director himself once admitted that he’s no stranger to enjoying a trashy movie or two. In the process, he pointed out a classic war movie that he considers to be one of his guilty pleasures, The Green Berets.
“John Wayne’s epic Vietnam War movie,” Carpenter began. “Amazing extreme-right fantasy. Great siege on a firebase. Vietcong toasted on concertina wire like marshmallows. Wayne and the Green Berets sneak into a mansion, capture Vietcong big shot and his concubine. Ricky-tick chop-suey score.”
The Green Berets is the 1968 war film directed by John Wayne and Ray Kellogg, starring Wayne, David Janssen and Jim Hutton. It’s based on Robin Moore’s 1965 novel of the same name, although some of it is not included in the source text. It’s an anti-communist film, which is largely why Carpenter likes it so.
Continuing to express his strange admiration for one of his guilty pleasures, Carpenter pointed out the wealth of talent in the cast and, in the same breath, noted its low point, adding, “John Wayne, David Janssen, Aldo Ray, Bruce Cabot, Jim Hutton, and the worst Asian child actor ever cast in a motion picture.”
But the best thing of all when it comes to The Green Berets for Carpenter comes right at the film’s conclusion with the last words spoken. He said: “Greatest final line in any film-Wayne to orphaned Vietnamese boy: ‘Son, you’re what this war is all about.’ A must-see.” After all, the final line in any movie is an important part of the film, and Carpenter clearly admires John Wayne’s classic army moment.
Check out the trailer for John Wayne and Ray Kellogg’s 1968 war movie The Green Berets below.