The CJ-3B in the Movies

Good Morning, Vietnam


WilliamsGood Morning, Vietnam (1987, rated R) was directed by Barry Levinson from a screenplay by Mitch Markowitz. The film, starring Robin Williams as U.S. Armed Forces Radio disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, is set in Vietnam, but was shot in Thailand.

Frames from the film
An uncredited military CJ-3B plays a supporting role throughout the film, as transportation for the Robin Williams character and his sidekick played by Forest Whitaker. A running joke in the film is Whitaker turning the ignition key when the engine is already running.

The principal combat jeep in the Vietnam era was the new M151 MUTT. The CJ-3B and the Mitsubishi CJ3B-J4C were used by the U.S. military primarily in non-combat roles including delivery, and Navy shore patrol. Thus its appearances here as an Armed Forces Radio vehicle, and Military Police vehicle, may be accurate.

Roger Ebert's review of the film in the Chicago Sun-Times says this about Robin Williams' performance:

"Williams' best movies (Popeye, The World According to Garp, Moscow on the Hudson) are the ones where he is given a well-written character to play and held to the character by a strong director. In his other movies, you can see him trying to do his stand-up act on the screen....

"What is inspired about Good Morning, Vietnam, which contains far and away the best work Williams has ever done in a movie, is that his own tactics are turned against him. The director, Barry Levinson, has created a character who is a stand-up comic. Everything in his world is reduced to material for his program.

"At one point, his Jeep breaks down in the middle of the jungle in Viet Cong territory (Note: As you can see from the photos here, it's an ambush, not a breakdown.) and he starts using one-liners on the trees. He meets a Vietnamese girl he likes, and uses one-liners on her, too, in a genuine exercise in cynicism because she doesn't understand any of his humor.

"And then things happen. To impress the girl and her brother, he starts teaching an English-language class for the Vietnamese. He finds that he likes them. He witnesses (and barely survives) a particularly gruesome terrorist attack. He gets thrown off the radio. He meets some kids who are going into battle, and who admire him, and in their eyes he sees something that makes him start to take himself a little more seriously. By the end of the movie, Cronauer has turned into a better, deeper, wiser man than he was at the beginning; the movie is the story of his education."

Ken Bushdiecker has made some close observations: "Apparently only one CJ-3B was used to film this movie, except for perhaps a few frames. Here are a few notes about the Jeep seen in this movie. The Jeep has a military marking of 2N3597 on the side of the hood. The number 104867 is on the front bumper. It has a notably different rear view mirror than is common for the earlier 3-B Jeeps. Strangely it seems to have the small horn button for an otherwise obviously late-built Jeep. It has a single electric wiper motor with no passenger-side wiper. The spring shackles appear to be silent block.

"In the scene during the Jeep ambush,they show a floor pan shot of the brakes being applied. This shot seems to have been taken from an MB model jeep. It shows cast iron brake pedals. Also overly large holes are seen in the floor pan. In a few frames when the Jeep is shown upside down you can see that the upside down rig is not a CJ-3B. I think its a MUTT. It has a flat skid plate under the front axle. You can see the same military numbers on the Jeep clips shown after the rollover scene. However they did otherwise attempt to make the Jeep appear as a different vehicle by adding the words "MILITARY POLICE" to the lower W/S and a tailgate cover."

See more CJ-3Bs in Vietnam in A Bright Shining Lie and Platoon.

See CJ-3B Jeeps in Vietnam for photos of the real thing.

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Last updated 30 April 2007 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond