Special Report

The Best and Worst John Wayne Movies That Aren’t Westerns

Source: Courtesy of Republic Pictures

1. The Quiet Man (1952)
> Combined score: 2.63 — #593 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
> Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond

“The Quiet Man” is a comedy in which Wayne plays retired American boxer Sean Thornton. Hoping to buy his father’s land, Thornton moves back to the Irish village where he was born. There, he falls in love with a fiery woman whose brother is against the union between her and Thornton.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

2. The Longest Day (1962)
> Combined score: 2.59 — #821 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Action, Drama, History
> Starring: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda

In this movie, Wayne plays Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort, who fought in World War II in real life and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and numerous other honors. The film tells the story of D-Day from the perspective of Americans like Vandervoort as well as Nazis.

Source: Courtesy of Olive Films

3. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)
> Combined score: 2.53 — #1,185 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Action, Drama, Romance
> Starring: John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara, Forrest Tucker

Wayne plays John Stryker, a very strict and very mean marine sergeant who is hated by his men. But they begin to understand his methods and learn to respect him during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The war movie has a perfect score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Republic Pictures

4. The Fighting Seabees (1944)
> Combined score: 2.39 — #2,097 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Drama, Romance, War
> Starring: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dennis O’Keefe, William Frawley

Another Wayne movie with a perfect Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes is “The Fighting Seabees,” a tribute to the Navy’s Construction Battalions during World War II. Wayne plays the boss of a construction company hired by the Navy to train the troops as specialists in using heavy machinery.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

5. They Were Expendable (1945)
> Combined score: 2.38 — #2,132 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Drama, War
> Starring: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt

Along with Westerns, Wayne often starred in war movies. The plot of “They Were Expendable” centers on two Navy commanders who prove that a new PT (patrol, torpedo) boat can be useful in fighting the Japanese during World War II. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes describe the movie as surprisingly rich and praise the cinematography.