A new Disc Jockey is shipped from Crete to Vietnam to bring humor to Armed Forces Radio. He turns the studio on its ear and becomes wildly popular with the troops but runs afoul of the middle management who think he isn’t G.I. enough. While he is off the air, he tries to meet Vietnamese especially girls, and begins to have brushes with the real war that never appears on the radio.
Good Morning, Vietnam is a 1987 American military comedy-drama 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. The film is number 100 on the list of the “American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest American Movies”.
About the Story
In 1965, 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 being transferred to Guam, citing Dickerson’s vindictive attitude as the reason.
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Starring: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran, Chintara Sukapatana, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, Richard Edson, Juney Smith, Richard Portnow
Screenplay by: Mitch Markowitz
Production Design by: Roy Walker
Cinematography by: Peter Sova
Film Editing by: Stu Linder
Costume Design by: Keith Denny
Set Decoration by: Tessa Davies
Art Direction by: Steve Spence
Music by: Alex North
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: December 23, 1987