Most Memorable Vietnam Vet in War Movies

I actually had a discussion yesterday about this topic. Which is the most memorable Vietnam vet in any movie? De Niro in Taxi Driver? Ron Kovic in Born on the 4th of July? Or even Rambo? The one I prefer is Jacknife. He is the most touching and likable. But I think not necessarily the most memorable. The most memorable for me is de Niro in Taxi Driver. Anyway, I want to hear what you think, which is the most memorable and which one did you like the most?

Here are a few to refresh your memory (and yes, indeed, Robert de Niro is certainly THE Vietnam vet actor)

Robert de Niro in Jacknife

Robert de Niro in Taxi Driver

Robert de Niro in The Deer Hunter

Sylvester Stallone as Rambo: First Blood

Tom Cruise (in one of his best roles) in Born on the 4th of July

Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage in Birdy

James Cann in Gardens of Stone

Jack Dunne in Heroes

Tom Laughlin in Billy Jack

James Woods in The Visitors

Bruce Willis in In Country

John Lithgow in Distant Thunder

One little confession, I haven’t seen the last four… Did I miss something?

12 thoughts on “Most Memorable Vietnam Vet in War Movies

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    I have not seen most of these since this is not a sub-genre I am interested in. Based on what I know the obvious choice for most memorable is DeNiro as Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”. Unfortunate because the character encouraged the stereotype of the mentally disturbed veteran which will reappear often. But that is not a war movie, so the best portrayal is Tom Cruise as Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July”. Kovic is arguably the most important veteran. My personal favorite is John Goodman as Walter Sobchak in “The Big Lebowski”. “You know, Dude, I myself dabbled in pacifism once. Not in ‘Nam of course.” (That’s the only quote I could find that did not have the f-word)

    • As a big Big Lebowski fan I should have come up with him. I was thinking more “classical” Vietnam vets, who suffer from the experience. I guess else you could find tons. Taxi Driver is labelled Viet Vet movie therefore it counts. It is a genre I am particularly interested in.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    I wanted to find a comedy featuring a Vietnam vet and ran across Sobchak. Added bonus was your fondness for the movie.

    • I appreciate the effort… It did really not cross my mind. Of course I had a sort of clichéd idea in my mind… Not every vet is traumatized. have you not seen Jacknife? If you are a de Niro fan, you should. It’s surprisingly good. I think I did review it.

  3. warmoviebuff says:

    I have not seen it, but I will. I do like DeNiro, he was great in the acclaimed “Machete”, but was out-acted by Lindsey Lohan (who isn’t?)

  4. Chris says:

    A pretty good list but you missed Electra Glide in Blue, When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder? and Jacob’s Ladder. You can watch When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder? for free on Google Videos.

  5. […] year I posted on the topic of Most Memorable Vietnam Vets and collected quite a list of movies in which a Vietnam vet is the main character. With the […]

  6. nem baj says:

    The Visitors is pretty good, in a nightmarish way… But it’s the quartet of veterans (including the grandfather) which is memorable, more than James Woods by himself.

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