Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

R | 119 mins | Comedy-drama, Biography | 23 December 1987

Director:

Barry Levinson

Writer:

Mitch Markowitz

Cinematographer:

Peter Sova

Editor:

Stewart Linder

Production Designer:

Roy Walker

Production Companies:

Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III
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HISTORY

According to an article in the Mar 1989 issue of Cable Choice, former U.S. Air Force sergeant Adrian Cronauer was inspired to write a treatment for a sitcom based on his experiences serving as a deejay for Armed Forces Radio in Saigon, Vietnam, from May 1965 to Apr 1966. Cronauer partnered with friend and fellow veteran, Ben Moses, to write the treatment, which was rejected on the basis that there was nothing funny about the Vietnam War. Years later, Cronauer and Moses wrote a revised treatment for a television movie-of-the-week, which elicited interest from Robin Williams’s manager, Larry Brezner, who hired Mitch Markowitz to rewrite the script as a feature film vehicle for his client. Cronauer and Moses consulted on the rewrite. Cronauer later commented that 45% of the film accurately portrays his life.
       Robin Williams, whose casting was confirmed in a 26 Jan 1987 HR news item, was initially set to co-host the Academy Awards on 30 Mar 1987, but dropped out when the start of principal photography on Good Morning, Vietnam was moved up to 6 Apr 1987, as noted in the 13 Mar 1987 DV. According to a 14 Feb 1988 LAT item, Williams’s salary was just under $2 million, plus gross participation points.
       Filming took place entirely in Thailand, where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Although filmmakers had considered shooting in the Philippines, they decided against it due to a discouraging political climate, as noted in the 4 May 1987 DV. Locations included a meteorological station in Bangkok, Thailand, which doubled as military headquarters and dormitories. Vintage props, including mid-1960s jet ... More Less

According to an article in the Mar 1989 issue of Cable Choice, former U.S. Air Force sergeant Adrian Cronauer was inspired to write a treatment for a sitcom based on his experiences serving as a deejay for Armed Forces Radio in Saigon, Vietnam, from May 1965 to Apr 1966. Cronauer partnered with friend and fellow veteran, Ben Moses, to write the treatment, which was rejected on the basis that there was nothing funny about the Vietnam War. Years later, Cronauer and Moses wrote a revised treatment for a television movie-of-the-week, which elicited interest from Robin Williams’s manager, Larry Brezner, who hired Mitch Markowitz to rewrite the script as a feature film vehicle for his client. Cronauer and Moses consulted on the rewrite. Cronauer later commented that 45% of the film accurately portrays his life.
       Robin Williams, whose casting was confirmed in a 26 Jan 1987 HR news item, was initially set to co-host the Academy Awards on 30 Mar 1987, but dropped out when the start of principal photography on Good Morning, Vietnam was moved up to 6 Apr 1987, as noted in the 13 Mar 1987 DV. According to a 14 Feb 1988 LAT item, Williams’s salary was just under $2 million, plus gross participation points.
       Filming took place entirely in Thailand, where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Although filmmakers had considered shooting in the Philippines, they decided against it due to a discouraging political climate, as noted in the 4 May 1987 DV. Locations included a meteorological station in Bangkok, Thailand, which doubled as military headquarters and dormitories. Vintage props, including mid-1960s jet planes, taxis, and teletype machines, were imported to the set. Two other films, Vice Versa and Off Limits (1988, see entries), shot in Thailand at the same time, as noted in a 9 Jul 1987 LAHExam brief. A softball game was arranged between the cast and crew of Good Morning, Vietnam and Off Limits, to raise money for medical supplies for Vietnamese refugee camps in northern Thailand. Director Barry Levinson was named “MVP” of the game, which the Good Morning, Vietnam team won by a score of 35-10.
       The 28 Jun 1987 LAT stated the film cost $14 million. Financing came from Silver Screen Partners III, which raised $300 million from 44,000 investors to fund eighteen films at Walt Disney Pictures, according to a 3 Feb 1987 WSJ item.
       Good Morning, Vietnam opened 23 Dec 1987 in Los Angeles, CA, New York City, and Toronto, Canada. A wide release was set for 15 Jan 1988, as stated in the 18 Nov 1987 Var.
       The film was a commercial success but received mixed reviews. Robin Williams’s performance was singled out as its strong point. Williams won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. On 20 Feb 1988, LAT reported the soundtrack from A&M Records had earned a gold record for selling over 500,000 copies.
       A 17 Aug 1992 HR item published Disney’s latest profit participation statement, which cited a cumulative domestic box-office gross of $109,727,531. Less distribution costs, negative cost, and other participations and deferments, Disney’s net profits were said to be $9,308,524.
       As reported in a 29 Jan 1988 DV news item, a 35mm print went missing en route from Montreal’s Bellevue Pathé Quebec duplication lab to Victoria Film Services Ltd. in Toronto. The print was recovered, and a messenger for a film courier service was arrested under suspicion of stealing the print with the intent to sell it on the black market.
       Novelist and screenwriter Martyn Burke sued Walt Disney Pictures and its president, Jeffrey Katzenberg, as well as Touchstone Pictures, and Larry Brezner, Robin Williams’s manager, for $30 million, claiming the story for Good Morning, Vietnam was stolen from his 1980 novel, Laughing War. As noted in a 2 Dec 1988 LAT brief, Burke allegedly met with Katzenberg and Brezner in 1982 to discuss a screen adaptation of his novel, but both passed on the project. In the Mar 1989 Cable Choice article, Burke claimed that his screen adaptation of Laughing War was originally written for Columbia Pictures, with Dustin Hoffman set to star. However, when Hoffman backed out, Robin Williams briefly considered the role. The project later went into pre-production without Williams, but was cancelled when Good Morning, Vietnam went into production first. The outcome of the lawsuit could not be determined.
       End credits include the statement: “Filmed entirely in the kingdom of Thailand.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cable Choice
Mar 1989.
---
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1987.
---
Daily Variety
4 May 1987.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1987
p. 7, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1992.
---
LAHExam
9 Jul 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1987
Calendar, p. 45.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1987
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
31 Dec 1987
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1988
Calendar, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
20 Feb 1988
Section Y, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1988
Calendar, p. 2.
New York Times
25 Dec 1987
p. 11.
Variety
18 Nov 1987.
---
Variety
23 Dec 1987
p. 15.
WSJ
3 Feb 1987
p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures presents
In Association With Silver Screen Partners III
A Rollins, Morra and Brezner Production
A Barry Levinson Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Aerial photog
Key grip
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const mgr
Supv painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Orig score by
Mus consultant
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Foley artist
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Opticals and titles
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod exec
Thailand casting
Thailand casting
Casting asst
Asst to Mr. Williams
Asst to Mr. Johnson
Asst to Mr. Johnson
Asst to Mr. Levinson
Project development exec
Asst to Mr. Brezner
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Transportation coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Around The World In 80 Days," written by Adamsson & Young, performed by Lawrence Welk, courtesy of The Welk Record Group
"Baby Please Don't Go," written by Joe Williams, performed by Them, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Ballad Of A Thin Man," written by Bob Dylan, performed by The Grass Roots, courtesy of MCA Records
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SONGS
"Around The World In 80 Days," written by Adamsson & Young, performed by Lawrence Welk, courtesy of The Welk Record Group
"Baby Please Don't Go," written by Joe Williams, performed by Them, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Ballad Of A Thin Man," written by Bob Dylan, performed by The Grass Roots, courtesy of MCA Records
"Beach Blanket Bingo," written by G. Hemric & J. Styner, performed by Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello
"California Sun," written by Henry Glover & Morris Levy, performed by The Rivieras, courtesy of Eric Records, by arrangement with Original Sound Entertainment
"Cast Your Fate To The Wind," written by Guaraldi & Weber, performed by Sounds Orchestral, courtesy of PRT Records Ltd.
"Danger, Heartbreak Ahead," written by William Stevenson, Clarence Paul & Ivy Joe Hunter, performed by Marvelettes, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
"Don't Worry Baby," written by Brian Wilson & Roger Christian, performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"Dream On Little Dreamer," written by Jan Crutchfield & Fred Burch, performed by Perry Como, courtesy of RCA Records
"Five O'Clock World," written by Allen Reynolds, performed by The Vogues, courtesy of Celebrity Licensing
"Game Of Love," written by Clint Ballard, Jr., performed by Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight," written by Joanne Castle, performed by Lawrence Welk & Myron Floren, courtesy of Ranwood Records
"I Get Around," written by Brian Wilson, performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"I Got You (I Feel Good)," written and performed by James Brown, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"I'll Never Smile Again," written by Ruth Lowe, performed by Lawrence Welk, courtesy of Ranwood Records
"In The Midnight Hour," written by Wilson Pickett & Steve Cropper, performed by Wilson Pickett, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"It's Alright," written by Chris Andrews, performed by Adam Faith, courtesy of EMI Records Ltd./Capitol Records, Inc.
"Kit Kat Polka," written by Lawrence Welk, performed by Lawrence Welk & Myron Floren, courtesy of Ranwood Records
"Liar Liar," written by Jim Donna, performed by The Castaways, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment
"Acapulco," written by Dave Alpert, performed by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, courtesy of A & M Records
"Lollipops & Roses," written by Velona, performed by Jack Jones, courtesy of MCA Records
"Nowhere To Run," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland, Jr., performed by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," written by Otto Harbach & Jerome Kern, performed by Ray Conniff, courtesy of CBS Records
"Sugar And Spice," written by Fred Nightingale, performed by The Searchers, courtesy of PRT Records, Ltd.
"Warmth Of The Sun," written by Brian Wilson & Mike Love, performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc.
"What A Wonderful World," written by George Weiss & Bob Thiele, performed by Louis Armstrong, courtesy of MCA Records
"Yeah Yeah," written by Pat Patrick, Rodgers Grant & Jon Hendricks, performed by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"My Boyfriend's Back," written by Robert Feldman, Gerald Goldstein & Richard Gottehrer
"Puff The Magic Dragon," written by Peter Yarrow & Leonard Lipton
"Rawhide," written by Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington
"You Keep Me Hangin' On," written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland, Jr.
"Like Tweet," written by Joe Puma & Eddie Hall
"Get A Job," written by The Silhouettes.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
23 December 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 23 December 1987
Production Date:
began 6 April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures (a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company)
Copyright Date:
28 December 1987
Copyright Number:
PA347201
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by De Luxe®
Duration(in mins):
119
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28046
SYNOPSIS

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson increases U.S. military forces in the Vietnam War. Airman Adrian Cronauer is transferred from Crete to Saigon, Vietnam, to be a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio Saigon. Arriving at the airbase, Cronauer is met by Private First Class Edward Garlick, who works as an aide at the radio station. Garlick introduces the new deejay to his superiors, Lieutenant Steven Hauk, Sergeant Major Dickerson, and General Taylor, a fan of Cronauer’s humorous radio show in Crete. The surly Sgt. Maj. Dickerson reprimands Cronauer for not being in uniform, and warns him not to misbehave. Cronauer begins his first show by bellowing, “Good morning, Vietnam!” – a greeting that becomes his trademark. He pretends to interview servicemen in the field, shifting rapidly between characters, and plays rock n’ roll records that Lt. Steven Hauk frowns upon. After the show, Hauk warns Cronauer not to make fun of the weather, and suggests that he stick to “normal modes of music” from the likes of Lawrence Welk, Andy Williams, and Frank Sinatra. Cronauer ignores Hauk’s orders and stays true to his broadcasting style. While drinking at Jimmy Wah’s, a G.I. bar in town, Cronauer notices a beautiful young woman on the street and follows her to her English class, taught by an American serviceman. Cronauer bribes the man to let him teach, instead. He employs his comedy routine to teach the students English slang. When class is over, he tries to talk to the young woman, whose name is Trinh, but her younger brother, Tuan, stops him. Tuan believes that American men cannot be trusted with Vietnamese women. Cronauer befriends the boy, and takes him to ... +


In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson increases U.S. military forces in the Vietnam War. Airman Adrian Cronauer is transferred from Crete to Saigon, Vietnam, to be a disc jockey for Armed Forces Radio Saigon. Arriving at the airbase, Cronauer is met by Private First Class Edward Garlick, who works as an aide at the radio station. Garlick introduces the new deejay to his superiors, Lieutenant Steven Hauk, Sergeant Major Dickerson, and General Taylor, a fan of Cronauer’s humorous radio show in Crete. The surly Sgt. Maj. Dickerson reprimands Cronauer for not being in uniform, and warns him not to misbehave. Cronauer begins his first show by bellowing, “Good morning, Vietnam!” – a greeting that becomes his trademark. He pretends to interview servicemen in the field, shifting rapidly between characters, and plays rock n’ roll records that Lt. Steven Hauk frowns upon. After the show, Hauk warns Cronauer not to make fun of the weather, and suggests that he stick to “normal modes of music” from the likes of Lawrence Welk, Andy Williams, and Frank Sinatra. Cronauer ignores Hauk’s orders and stays true to his broadcasting style. While drinking at Jimmy Wah’s, a G.I. bar in town, Cronauer notices a beautiful young woman on the street and follows her to her English class, taught by an American serviceman. Cronauer bribes the man to let him teach, instead. He employs his comedy routine to teach the students English slang. When class is over, he tries to talk to the young woman, whose name is Trinh, but her younger brother, Tuan, stops him. Tuan believes that American men cannot be trusted with Vietnamese women. Cronauer befriends the boy, and takes him to Jimmy Wah’s, where they join Garlick, and Radio Saigon deejays Marty Lee Dreiwitz, Dan “The Man” Levitan, and Phil McPherson. The men notice attractive Vietnamese women flirting with two sergeants at the bar. Cronauer lures the women to their table, and the sergeants confront him and Tuan. They refer to Tuan as a “gook” and demand that he leave. Cronauer comes to Tuan’s defense and incites a brawl. Dickerson reprimands him for the incident, and threatens to reassign him. Over time, Cronauer becomes frustrated with the radio station censors, who determine what news is acceptable for broadcast, and generally forbid anything having to do with the war. He continues to teach Trinh’s English class, and she finally agrees to a date. However, they are accompanied by ten of her family members. Cronauer acknowledges Trinh’s reticence, and promises he has no expectations for their relationship. Former Vice President Richard Nixon visits Vietnam, and gives a speech in which he states confidently that the Viet Cong will be defeated. A recording of the speech is to be aired on Radio Saigon. Cronauer sabotages it by inserting his voice as if he interviewed Nixon, making jokes about Nixon’s sex life and marijuana use. Hauk panics when he hears the broadcast. He wants to fire Cronauer, but Gen. Taylor forbids him, arguing that he is their first deejay to receive fan mail. Later, Tuan finds the deejay at Jimmy Wah’s, and insists Trinh wants to see him that instant. The boy lures him out of the bar seconds before it is blown up. In the aftermath, Tuan disappears. At the radio station, Sgt. Maj. Dickerson forbids Cronauer from reporting the blast, but the deejay ignores him and mentions it anyway. Dickerson demands that he be punished, and Taylor agrees to suspend him. Lt. Hauk takes over Cronauer’s slot. He makes bad jokes and plays polka records, eliciting a flood of complaints from servicemen who want Cronauer reinstated. Meanwhile, Tuan brings Cronauer to his village, where they observe Buddhists praying for enlightenment. Trinh pulls him aside to tell him they have no future together, and cannot be friends. Later, Garlick finds Cronauer at a restaurant with Tuan, and tells him he has his job back. Cronauer refuses to go, and asks Garlick to drive him to his English class, instead. On the way there, stuck in traffic, they find themselves surrounded by soldiers in trucks. Garlick announces that Cronauer is with him, and the soldiers cajole him into an impromptu live broadcast. Reminded that his purpose is to entertain troops whose lives are in danger, Cronauer returns to work. He asks to interview soldiers in the field, stationed in An Lac. Dickerson learns that the road to An Lac is under Viet Cong control, but conceals that fact. He approves the trip, knowingly endangering Cronauer and Garlick, who drive over a land mine in Viet Cong territory. Tuan gets word that Cronauer is in trouble and goes to rescue him. When he is safely returned to the radio station, Dickerson informs him that Tuan is a Viet Cong operative, and orders Cronauer honorably discharged. In town, Cronauer finds Tuan and accuses him of being “the enemy.” Tuan insists that the U.S. is the real enemy, and is brought to tears as he reveals that his mother and brother were killed by American soldiers. The next morning, Garlick escorts Cronauer to the air base. On the way, the deejay asks to stop in town. He gathers his English students and organizes a game of baseball, using sticks for bats and pieces of fruit as baseballs. Afterward, he says goodbye to Trinh, who thanks him for his kindness. Before he boards the airplane, Cronauer gives Garlick a farewell tape to air on Radio Saigon. Garlick takes over Cronauer’s slot, and plays the tape as his first broadcast. It begins with the beloved deejay bellowing, “Goodbye, Vietnam!” He performs a fake interview with one of his characters, “Mr. Leo,” to tell the American troops that he is headed home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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