Special Report

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

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

16. Hellfighters (1968)
> Combined score: 1.55 — #7,476 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama
> Starring: John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Jim Hutton, Vera Miles

In “Hellfighters” Wayne plays a firefighter who, along with his crew, fights oil rig fires all over the world. His marriage is falling apart and he is falling in love with a colleague’s daughter. The drama movie is among the worst of all Wayne movies, according to critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Only 13% gave the film a positive review, though 74% of audience reviewers liked the film.

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

17. Jet Pilot (1957)
> Combined score: 1.54 — #7,513 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Action, Drama, Romance
> Starring: John Wayne, Janet Leigh, Jay C. Flippen, Paul Fix

In “Jet Pilot,” John Wayne plays another military pilot, portraying Air Force Col. Jim Shannon. But this is less of a war movie and more of an espionage drama. In the film, Shannon escorts a Soviet jet in American airspace to an air base. He is ordered to befriend its pilot, Anna Marladovna (Janet Leigh), and the two fall in love — but Shannon is concerned he may have been taken advantage of by a Soviet spy.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros./Seven Arts

18. The Green Berets (1968)
> Combined score: 1.41 — #8,345 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Drama, War
> Starring: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray

Wayne often played tough characters in war movies, and “The Green Berets” is no exception. In the film, he portrays the leader of a top secret mission that involves kidnapping a Viet Cong commander. The movie is a positive take on the Vietnam War (which Wayne was famously in support of). Only 23% of movie critics liked “The Green Berets.”

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

19. Brannigan (1975)
> Combined score: 1.22 — #9,573 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime
> Starring: John Wayne, Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, Mel Ferrer

In one of his final roles, Wayne plays the titular Lt. Brannigan — a tough Chicago Police lieutenant tasked with extraditing a mob boss from the U.K. back to America. Before he can execute his mission, the mob boss is kidnapped, sparking a manhunt throughout London.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

20. Operation Pacific (1951)
> Combined score: 1.20 — #9,674 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Drama, Romance, War
> Starring: John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Ward Bond, Scott Forbes

In another one of his long string of military roles, John Wayne returns to the Navy for 1951’s “Operation Pacific.” In the film, he plays Lt Cmdr. Duke E. Gifford, who commands a submarine called the Thunderfish. After completing a rescue mission in the Pacific — despite faulty torpedoes — Gifford tries to reunite with his ex-wife but is soon called away on another mission.