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John Wayne's World: Israel as Vietnam in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2019

RODNEY WALLIS
Affiliation:
School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales. Email: r.wallis@unsw.edu.au.
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Melville Shavelson's Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) stands alongside Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960) as one of the most notable Hollywood films to center on the founding of Israel. In this paper I argue that Cast a Giant Shadow is less concerned with the peculiarities of the nascent stages of the Arab–Israeli conflict, and instead functions as an unabashed endorsement of American military interventionism in foreign conflicts at a time in which the United States was dramatically escalating its military presence in Vietnam. The film is positioned as the second installment in an unofficial trilogy of overtly propagandistic pro-interventionist cinema produced by John Wayne's production company Batjac in the 1960s, alongside The Alamo (1960), Wayne's directing debut, and the notoriously jingoistic pro-Vietnam War film The Green Berets (1968). My analysis of this largely overlooked entry in the Wayne oeuvre ultimately reveals how Israel enabled Wayne to effectively put his art at the service of his political beliefs.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press and British Association for American Studies 2019 

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References

1 Berkman, Ted, Cast a Giant Shadow (New York: Pocket Books, Inc., 1963)Google Scholar.

2 Shavelson, Melville, How to Make a Jewish Movie (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971), 169–70Google Scholar.

3 Suid, Lawrence H., Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film, rev., exp. edn (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002), 129Google Scholar.

4 Slotkin, Richard, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (New York: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998), 518–19Google Scholar.

5 Ibid., 518.

Ibid.

6 Bentley, Eric, Theatre of War: Comments on 32 Occasions (New York: Viking Press, 1972), 311Google Scholar.

7 Xavier, Ismail, Allegories of Underdevelopment: Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Brazilian Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 16Google Scholar.

8 John F. Kennedy, “Democratic National Convention Nomination Acceptance Address: ‘The New Frontier’,” 15 July 1960, American Rhetoric, at www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfk1960dnc.htm, accessed 13 April 2013.

9 John F. Kennedy, “Inaugural Address,” 20 Jan. 1961, American Rhetoric, at www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkinaugural.htm, accessed 18 April 2013.

10 See Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam: A History, rev. edn (New York: Penguin, 1997), 264–65Google Scholar.

11 See ibid., 270.

12 Ibid., 380–92.

Ibid.

13 See George Kahin, McTurnan, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1986), 287Google Scholar.

14 Ibid., 357.

Ibid.

15 Ibid., 238.

Ibid.

16 See Berkman, Cast a Giant Shadow, 126–31.

17 See ibid., 54.

18 Kennedy, “Inaugural Address.”

19 Wilkinson, Rupert, American Tough: The Tough-Guy Tradition and American Character (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984), 7Google Scholar.

Ibid.

21 Quoted in Erens, Patricia, The Jew in American Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 292Google Scholar.

Ibid.

23 Homans, Peter, “Puritanism Revisited: An Analysis of the Contemporary Screen-Image Western,” in Nachbar, Jack, ed., Focus on the Western (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1974), 8492, 87Google Scholar.

24 The cycle is generally understood to have begun with The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950)Google Scholar. Subsequent major films that followed in the wake of The Gunfighter include Shane (George Stevens, 1953)Google Scholar and High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952)Google Scholar. Lesser-known films of this ilk that were produced during this period include Man without a Star (King Vidor, 1955)Google Scholar, Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957)Google Scholar, Proud Rebel (Michael Curtiz, 1958)Google Scholar, At Gunpoint (Alfred L. Werker, 1955)Google Scholar, Johnny Concho (Don McGuire, 1956)Google Scholar, Man from Del Rio (Harry Horner, 1956)Google Scholar, Fury at Showdown (Gerd Oswald, 1957)Google Scholar, Gun for a Coward (Abner Biberman, 1957)Google Scholar, Gun Glory (Roy Rowland, 1957)Google Scholar, and Last of the Fast Guns (George Sherman, 1958)Google Scholar.

25 Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation, 379–81.

26 Ibid., 400.

Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid.

29Cast a Giant Shadow review,” Time, 15 April 1966, 66.

30 See Shavelson, How to Make a Jewish Movie, 18.

Ibid.

32 Ibid., 12.

Ibid.

33 Ibid., 22.

Ibid.

34 Ibid., original emphasis.

Ibid.

35 Douglas, Kirk, The Ragman's Son: An Autobiography (London: Simon & Schuster, 1988), 382Google Scholar.

36 Roberts, Randy, John Wayne: American (New York: Free Press, 1995), 525Google Scholar.

37 Munn, Michael, John Wayne: The Man behind the Myth (London: Robson Books, 2004), 275–76Google Scholar.

38 Shavelson, 231.

39 Corkin, Stanley, Cowboys as Cold Warriors: The Western as U.S. History (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004), 179Google Scholar.

40 Levy, Emanuel, John Wayne: Prophet of an American Way of Life (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1988), 314Google Scholar.

Ibid.
Ibid.

43 Ibid., 288–89.

Ibid.

44 Martin, Andrew, Receptions of War: Vietnam in American Culture (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), 107Google Scholar.

45 Quoted in Suid, Guts and Glory, 248.

Ibid.

47 Levy, 319.

48 Ibid., 281.

Ibid.

49 Quoted in Smith, Julian, Looking Away: Hollywood and Vietnam (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975), 129Google Scholar.

50 Belton, John, American Cinema/American Culture, 4th edn (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013), 260Google Scholar.

51 Bentley, Theatre of War, 311.

52 Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation, 12.

53 Said, Edward, Orientalism, rev. edn (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), 286Google Scholar.

54 For an extended discussion of “genre memory” see Emerson, Caryl and Emerson, Gary Saul, Mikhail Bakhtin: Creation of a Prosaics (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990), 271305Google Scholar.

55 Following the discovery of the dead Vietnamese girl, Wayne doubles down by describing in detail a similar incident in which a woman died after being raped by 40 Viet Cong soldiers.

56 Shohat, Ella, “Gender and Culture of Empire: Toward a Feminist Ethnography of the Cinema,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 13, 1 (1991), 4584CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

57 Ibid., 49.

Ibid.

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