Conservatives are a rarity in Hollywood, but director and producer Jack Marino is proud to be giving them a voice in the industry. Marino’s feature film Forgotten Heroes salutes the veterans of the Vietnam War and shows how the involvement of the Soviet Union impacted the conflict. Set in the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia, the film tells the story of a group of “Kelly’s Heroes” who risk their lives to rescue a Russian general who has chosen to defect to America.
Marino said that the idea for Forgotten Heroes came out of his desire to show American soldiers in a positive light. “I thought the way that [Vietnam veterans] were treated [by the anti-war movement] was despicable,” he told this correspondent on June 28, 2009. “The entire [Hollywood] machinery … just attacked anything about the veterans in film after film … They took it out on the guys who really were completely innocent of anything.”
Another inspiration for Marino was his previous experience working with Vietnam veterans and being able to hear their personal stories. “They [Vietnam veterans] came back from the war, they always said it was the highlight of their life … I never knew any Vietnam Vet who was bitter,” he said.
Marino said that the Democratic Party and the Democratic Congress “basically abandon[ed]” the Republic of South Vietnam in 1975. “We stopped Communism for years and then when we pulled out … 3 million people were killed in Cambodia and we don’t know how many were killed in South Vietnam,” Marino said.
Marino added that the left has “tried to rewrite history, saying that we lost the war, when in actuality we won every battle there.” After seeing Oliver Stone’s movie Platoon, Marino decided to create a film that would contrast the left’s version of the Vietnam War and show a side of the conflict that other films had not explored.
“I wanted to make an old-style World War II movie … and [incorporate] it into a Vietnam setting,” Marino said. Through this approach, Marino was able to follow in the tradition of his favorite movies such as A Walk In The Sun with Dana Andrews and Objective Burma with Errol Flynn.
Distribution of Marino’s film has been done strictly through the private sector. Marino says that being funded outside the business gives him more personal freedom to make the movies he wants to make without having to answer to Hollywood studios, which he refers to as “the mob.”
“When you go to the mob for money, they own you,” Marino pointed out.
“I’ve known a lot of A-level list actors and producers and directors who have come out in support of George Bush and … basically they’ve all been blacklisted,” Marino said. Marino says he admires actors such as Robert Davi and Jon Voight who are “standing up to the left” and have the “courage” to take on the Hollywood establishment.
“We conservatives have not been vigilant,” Marino said. “We have allowed [the left] to take over since the 1970’s. When conservatives ran Hollywood … it was called the Golden Age of Hollywood.” Marino describes this as a time when “Hollywood made movies where Americans and the world would fall in love with America.”
Marino says that the Hollywood movies of today make “Americans and the world hate America.” According to Marino, this is because the industry is “about an agenda and not profit-making.”
“There is no incentive for [Hollywood studios] to make a profit like they used to when they were privately owned companies,” Marino said. “Now studios can make five or six or seven movies a year that perpetuate the liberal agenda.” To supplement the profit margin, Marino says that studios turn to doing remakes, such as Batman and Star Trek.
“In between they’ll give Oliver Stone a movie like W., which will bomb, then they’ll give him a movie like Alexander, because he wants to promote the homosexual agenda. Even the people of Greece were upset with that movie, saying Alexander wasn’t a homosexual,” Marino said.
Marino says that the left is “so afraid, even of a small little film like Forgotten Heroes to get out there” because of the powerful message that it has for America.
“There’s no drama today in films. There’s no hero rescuing the heroine. The female lead is just as tough as the male lead, so what’s the motivation to slay the dragon to win the maiden’s hand? The liberals have turned everything upside down so there’s no fulfillment … the movies leave you flat,” Marino said.
“The kids in America today are being denied great movies that I saw when I was a kid,” Marino said. “They rewrite War of the Worlds, everything is about the environment. It’s just a propaganda machine.”
“The values I have today are the ones I had when I was a kid,” Marino said. “I interject [my Catholic faith] into my movies. I think this country was definitely founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic and I think we need to promote this in film,” Marino said.
When asked about what advice he would give young conservative actors and filmmakers, Marino encouraged them to utilize the internet to get their product out to the public. “There are so many outlets, and I say take chances,” he said.
“With the advent of digital … anyone can make a film today,” Marino said, pointing out the phenomenon of YouTube and other video websites that have mass followings.
“Go after the [liberal] ideology,” he said. “We have an opportunity here, especially young filmmakers, to get creative and … expose [liberal ideology] for what it is.”
Marino says that the leftist ideology cannot hold under such scrutiny, particularly concerning instances where the subject matter is about a “cause greater” than yourself. Marino believes that this is why Forgotten Heroes is striking such a chord with audiences.
“The response I’m getting from the veterans has been absolutely phenomenal,” Marino said, adding that he “managed to get a DVD copy [of Forgotten Heroes] to President Bush back in 2008.”
President Bush sent Marino a letter in response during the time Marino’s son was in Iraq serving in the military. The July 21, 2008 letter commended Marino’s efforts in making Forgotten Heroes and stated how proud President Bush was to be the son’s Commander-in-Chief.
Marino hopes that films like Forgotten Heroes will begin a conservative renaissance in Hollywood. “My goal is to make movies for Rush Limbaugh’s audience, for the audience that saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion, [and] for Sean Hannity’s audience,” Marino said. “I believe the pop culture is ours for the taking.”
“I would love to be the Oliver Stone for the conservative movement,” Marino said. “Why should Oliver have all the fun?”
Brittany Fortier is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.