Pabst Blue Ribbon plays supporting role in “Greatest Beer Run Ever”

In 1967, a guy from New York embarked on a seemingly crazy assignment:

Go to Vietnam, find some neighborhood uniformed buddies and bring beer from home to drink with them – to show them that the people back home are thinking of them.

Beer? Milwaukee’s Pabst Blue Ribbon.

That mission – and a short film co-produced by Pabst decades later – inspired the new film “The Greatest Beer Run Ever”, starring Zac Efron as John “Chickie” Donohue, the man who made the beer run. beer.

Directed and co-written by Peter Farrelly (“Green Book,” “There’s Something About Mary”), “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” opens in limited theaters September 30, the same day as the movie debuts on Apple TV+.

And PBR seems to have a supporting role – at least in the film.

The poster and promos for “The Greatest Beer Run Ever” feature Efron parachuting into Vietnam atop a giant can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, with a duffel bag full of PBR at the ready (and one in his hand) .

The promotional image of "The greatest beer race of all time" features Zac Efron parachuting into Vietnam atop a giant can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Scenes from the trailer show Efron tossing and throwing PBRs with soldiers behind lines, in the heat of battle, and even from a helicopter.

Bill Murray plays the bartender who first gave Efron the idea, and Russell Crowe co-stars as a Vietnam War correspondent who sets his character directly on the war.

In an interview earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, Farrelly told that he first became interested in the history of Donohue after seeing “Pabst Blue Ribbon Presents: The Greatest Beer Run Ever”, a 12-minute documentary by Andrew Muscato about Donohue and his pals which was produced by Pabst Blue Ribbon and a commercial filmmaker Makuhari Media.

In the short documentary, available on YouTube, Donohue tells his story with the help of the guys he brought these beers to in 1967, during a New York bar meeting in 2015.

In 1967, Donohue was a merchant seaman who, upset that anti-war protesters were undermining the heroic efforts of buddies who were in uniform in Vietnam, was persuaded to grab a bunch of local beer and take it to the Vietnam, where he would sort of track down guys in the neighborhood and give them a brew.

Along the way, he has a few adventures, including getting caught in a shootout and being stuck in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. There are also lighter moments, like when he surprises his buddies in the middle of a warzone looking like someone who shouldn’t be in a warzone.

In an interview in the documentary, Donohue says he brought a crate of Pabst. At the 2015 reunion, while recounting some of the goofiest (and scariest) moments of Donohue’s unlikely road trip, he and his pals all sit at the bar, each with a can of Pabst in front of them.

“Needless to say,” Donohue says in the short, “it took a while before I had to pay for my own beer.”

However, the 2020 book version of Donohue’s story serves more than PBR. Turns out other Milwaukee-connected brewers may have gotten in on the action as well.

Zac Efron presents a few deputies with a Pabst blue ribbon in a scene from

In “The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty and War”, Donohue (with co-author JT Molloy) writes that when a chance to jump on a ship heading for Vietnam presented itself to the last minute, he rushed to a bar near the wharf to buy as much local beer as he could carry.

“I asked him to include New York brands such as Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schaefer, Schlitz, Piels, Ballantine and Rheingold,” Donohue wrote. “…I felt assured that I could replenish my supply with the biggest American brands like Budweiser and Miller once there. But I wanted to bring some favorites from my hometown.

“When I told (the bartender) where I was bringing it, he gave me a good price,” Donohue said.

Zac Efron, center, lands in Vietnam in 1967 to bring some of his buddies serving in the conflict a taste of home "The greatest beer race of all time."

Contact Chris Foran at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @cforan12.

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