Most of Williams' radio broadcasts were largely improvised. Williams was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film is number 100 on "AFI's 100 Years…100 Laughs".
In 1965, Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer (Williams) arrives in Saigon from Crete to work as a DJ for Armed Forces Radio Service. Cronauer is greeted by PFC Edward Montesquieu Garlick (Whitaker). Cronauer's irreverence contrasts sharply with many staff members and soon rouses the ire of two of his superiors, Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk (Kirby) and Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson (Walsh). Hauk adheres to strict Army guidelines in terms of humor and music programming, while Dickerson is annoyed by Cronauer's behavior in general. However, Brigadier General Taylor (Willingham) and the other DJs quickly grow to like the new man and his brand of comedy. Cronauer's show consists of unpredictable humor segments mixed with news updates (vetted by the station censors) and rock and roll records that are frowned upon by his superiors.
Cronauer meets Trinh (Sukapatana), a Vietnamese girl, and follows her to an English class. Bribing the teacher to let him take over the job, Cronauer starts instructing the students in the use of American slang. Once class is dismissed, he tries to talk to Trinh but is stopped by her brother Tuan. Instead, Cronauer befriends Tuan and takes him to Jimmy Wah's, the local G.I. bar, to have drinks with Garlick and the station staff. Two other soldiers, angered at Tuan's presence, start a fight that escalates into a brawl.
Dickerson reprimands Cronauer for this incident, but the broadcasts go on as usual. While relaxing in Jimmy Wah's one afternoon, he is pulled outside by Tuan moments before the building explodes, killing two soldiers and leaving Cronauer badly shaken. The cause of the explosion is determined to be a bomb; the news is censored, but he locks himself in the studio and reports it anyway. Dickerson cuts off the broadcast and Cronauer is suspended. Hauk takes over his time slots, but his poor attempts at comedy and insistence on playing polka music, lead to a flood of letters and phone calls from servicemen who demand that Cronauer be put back on the air.
In the meantime, Cronauer spends his time drinking and pursuing Trinh, only to be rebuffed at every attempt. At the radio station Taylor intervenes on his behalf, ordering Hauk to reinstate him, but Cronauer refuses to go back to work. Garlick and Cronauer's vehicle is stopped by a convoy of soldiers, who persuade him to do an impromptu "broadcast" for them before they go off to fight. This performance reminds him why his job is important, and he is soon back on the air.
Dickerson devises a ploy to get rid of Cronauer by sending him and Garlick to interview soldiers in the field – knowing that the only road into the area is controlled by the Viet Cong. Their jeep is blown off the road by a mine and they are forced to hide in the jungle from the VC patrols. In Saigon, Tuan learns of their trip after Cronauer fails to show up for English class, steals a van and drives off after them. He finds them, but the van breaks down and they must flag down an Army helicopter to take them back to the city.
At the station, Dickerson confronts Cronauer, declaring he is now off the air for good. His friend Tuan is a VC operative who was responsible for the bombing of Jimmy Wah's. Dickerson has arranged for an honorable discharge, provided Cronauer leaves "quietly." Brigadier General Taylor arrives, and informs Cronauer that he cannot help him. Once Cronauer has left, Taylor informs Dickerson that he is being transferred to Guam.
The next day, on his way to the airport, Cronauer sets up a quick softball game with the students from his English class. As he boards the plane, he gives Garlick a taped farewell message; Garlick – taking Cronauer's place as DJ – plays the tape on the air the next morning. It begins with a yell of "Gooooooooooooooooodbye, Vietnam!" and runs through a few of Cronauer's impressions before ending with his wish that everyone will get home safely.
- Robin Williams as Airman Second Class Adrian Cronauer
- Forest Whitaker as Private First Class Edward Montesquieu "Eddie" Garlick
- Tung Thanh Tran as Phan Duc To, aka Tuan
- Chintara Sukapatana as Trinh
- Bruno Kirby as Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk
- Robert Wuhl as Staff Sergeant Marty Lee Dreiwitz
- J. T. Walsh as Sergeant Major Phillip Dickerson
- Noble Willingham as Brigadier General Taylor
- Richard Edson as Private Abersold
- Richard Portnow as Sergeant Dan 'The Man' Levitan
- Floyd Vivino as Private Eddie Kirk
- Juney Smith as Sergeant Phil McPherson
- Dan Santon as Censor #1
- Don Santon as Censor #2
In 1979, Adrian Cronauer pitched a sitcom based on his experiences as an AFRS DJ. TV networks were not interested, however, because they did not see war as comedy material, despite the fact that one of the most popular shows at the time was M*A*S*H. Cronauer then revamped his sitcom into a script for a movie of the week, which eventually got the attention of Robin Williams. Very little of Cronauer's original treatment remained after writer Mitch Markowitz was brought in. The film was shot in Bangkok, Thailand.
Awards and honors
- Robin Williams was awarded a Golden Globe Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical", and an American Comedy Award for "Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role)". He was also nominated for a "Best Actor" Academy Award, a "Best Actor" BAFTA Award, and a San Jordi Award in Barcelona for "Best Foreign Actor".
- Forrest Whitaker was awarded a San Jordi Award for "Best Foreign Actor" for his work on this film and Bird.
- Alex North was awarded the ASCAP Award for the film's original music.
- The film won the Political Film Society Award for Peace, and was nominated for a "Best Sound" BAFTA Award.
- In 2000, the film was included in the American Film Institute's list over the 100 funniest American movies during 100 years: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.
|"Around the World in 80 Days"||Lawrence Welk|
|"Baby, Please Don't Go"||Them*|
|"Ballad of a Thin Man"||The Grass Roots|
|"Beach Blanket Bingo"||Frankie Avalon|
|"California Sun"||The Rivieras*|
|"Cast Your Fate To The Wind"||Sounds Orchestral|
|"Danger! Heartbreak Dead Ahead"||The Marvelettes*|
|"Don't Worry Baby"||The Beach Boys|
|"Dream On Little Dreamer"||Perry Como|
|"Five O'Clock World"||The Vogues*|
|"Game of Love"||Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders*|
|"There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight"||Lawrence Welk & Myron Floren|
|"I Get Around"||The Beach Boys*|
|"I Got You (I Feel Good)"||James Brown*|
|"I'll Never Smile Again"||Lawrence Welk|
|"In the Midnight Hour"||Wilson Pickett|
|"It's Alright"||Adam Faith|
|"Kit Kat Polka"||Lawrence Welk & Myron Floren|
|"Liar, Liar"||The Castaways*|
|"Acapulco"||Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass|
|"Lollipops and Roses"||Jack Jones|
|"Nowhere to Run"||Martha and the Vandellas*|
|"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"||Ray Conniff|
|"Sugar and Spice"||The Searchers*|
|"The Warmth of the Sun"||The Beach Boys*|
|"What a Wonderful World"||Louis Armstrong*|
|"Yeh Yeh"||Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames|
|"My Boyfriend's Back"||The Angels|
|"Puff, the Magic Dragon"||Peter Yarrow & Leonard Lipton|
|"Rawhide"||Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington|
|"You Keep Me Hangin' On"||The Supremes|
|"Like Tweet"||Joe Puma & Eddie Hall|
|"Get a Job"||The Silhouettes|
The soundtrack album included only the songs indicated with an asterisk above. It was certified platinum in the US. Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World was released as a single because of the film and reached position 32 on the US Top 40, 20 years after its original release.
- Good Morning, Vietnam at AllRovi
- Good Morning, Vietnam at Rotten Tomatoes
- Good Morning, Vietnam at Box Office Mojo
- Good Morning, Vietnam at The Numbers
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