Directed by John Wayne, Ray Kellogg and an uncredited Mervyn LeRoy, The Green Berets is a Vietnam war movie which caused quite a bit of controversy when it opened in 1968. Released while the war in Vietnam was still raging, The Green Berets was John Wayne’s attempt at rallying support for the conflict and the United States government saw it as a great piece of pro-war propaganda.
Shot with the cooperation of the United States Department of Defense, the film used real equipment and uniforms from the US military and the majority of filming took place at Fort Benning in Georgia. Warner Bros – Seven Arts hired Mervyn LeRoy as an onset supervisor when the company became worried that Wayne might be overwhelmed by the huge scale of the production.
Very loosely based on Robin Moore’s 1965 book of the same name, The Green Berets fits with Wayne’s political sensibilities being an anti-communist and pro-South Vietnam piece. Many critics savaged the movie when it opened in June 1968 – just months after the beginning of the Tet Offensive. However, the Join Wayne starrer connected with US audiences and became a huge box office hit.
Shot on a budget of $7 million – a hefty sum at the time – The Green Berets grossed over $21.7 million at the US box office – making it the 11th highest grossing film that year.