Operation Dumbo Drop is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Simon Wincer. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Gene Quintano and Jim Kouf; based on a true story as depicted by United States Army Major Jim Morris. The film stars Danny Glover and Ray Liotta as Green Berets during the Vietnam War in 1968, who attempt to transport an elephant through jungle terrain to a local South Vietnamese village who in turn help American forces monitor North Vietnamese activity. Actors Denis Leary, Doug E. Doug and Corin Nemec also star in principal roles.
A joint collective effort to commit to the film's production was made by Interscope Communications and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. It was commercially distributed by Walt Disney Pictures theatrically, and by Buena Vista Home Entertainment for home media. Following its cinematic release, the film failed to garner any award nominations from mainstream motion picture organizations for its production merits or lead acting. Operation Dumbo Drop explores war, politics, and animal welfare.
Operation Dumbo Drop premiered in theaters nationwide in the United States on July 28, 1995 grossing $24,670,346 in domestic ticket receipts. The film was technically considered a moderate financial success after its theatrical run, but was generally met with negative critical reviews before its initial screening in cinemas. As a backdrop for Vietnam, primary shooting and photography took place in Thailand.
During the Vietnam War in 1968, Captain Sam Cahill (Danny Glover) has been working hard to create good relations between American soldiers and Montagnard Vietnamese in the village of Dak Nhe. The U.S. Army is looking to monitor enemy North Vietnamese operations from a clandestine weapons supply route which passes through the village at night. Cahill is coming close to his retirement, and explains to his successor Captain T.C. Doyle, (Ray Liotta) the delicate nature of Vietnamese customs as well as the counter intelligence involving covert enemy activity. In a lapse of judgment with surrounding Vietnamese children, Doyle accidentally lets the North Vietnamese Army know of their cooperation with the local villagers. In punishment, Colonel Nguyen (Hoang Ly) of the NVA shoots the villager's elephant dead, right before a spiritual festival. To aid the villagers, Cahill promises to replace the slain elephant before their upcoming ceremony.
Cahill and Doyle enlist the help of three other soldiers; CW3 Davis Poole (Denis Leary), Sp4 Harvey Ashford (Doug E. Doug) and Sp5 Lawrence Farley (Corin Nemec) to secure and deliver a new elephant to the villagers. The soldiers agree to purchase an elephant from a Vietnamese trader in a village a few hundred miles away. They also agree to accompany the elephant's handler Linh (Dinh Thien Le), who has experience with verbal commands in guiding the elephant. Along the way, North Vietnamese soldiers attempt to halt their advancement with the elephant towards Dak Nhe; but without success. Following a failed air transport move, the soldiers use a combination of land and sea methods to reach Pleiku Airbase before their final journey towards Dak Nhe.
At the base, Major Pederson (Marshall Bell), notifies the soldiers that the mission to deliver the elephant as a favor, has been cancelled. Pederson informs the soldiers that the enemy supply route has changed direction, and the army no longer needs the support of the local village. Against regulations, the soldiers commandeer a cargo aircraft with the elephant on-board to deliver to the villagers as promised. The aircraft comes under enemy fire as the soldiers along with the elephant aboard a crate, parachute out to safety. The company land unharmed within the village, but one of the soldiers who parachuted out, Ashford, gets stuck in a tree and becomes separated from the corps. NVA forces suddenly appear to disrupt the operation, threatening to take the remaining soldiers hostage and kill the elephant. Ashford however, is able to free himself and create a diversion long enough to distract and incapacitate the NVA troops. The soldiers complete their original intended mission, and to the delight of the U.S. Army, capture high-ranking enemy combatants in the process.
Danny Glover - Captain Sam Cahill
Ray Liotta - Captain T.C. Doyle
Denis Leary - CW3 Davis Poole
Doug E. Doug - Sp4 Harvey Ashford
Corin Nemec - Sp5 Lawrence Farley
Dinh Thien Le - Linh
Tchéky Karyo - Goddard
Hoang Ly - Colonel Nguyen
Vo Trung Anh - Lt. Quang
Marshall Bell - Major Pederson