An Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American romantic drama film[4] directed by Taylor Hackford from a screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart, and starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Jr. It tells the story of Zack Mayo (Gere), a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training at Aviation Officer Candidate School. While Zack meets his first true girlfriend during his training, a young "townie" named Paula (Winger), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Gossett) training his class.

An Officer and a Gentleman
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTaylor Hackford
Written byDouglas Day Stewart
Produced by
CinematographyDonald E. Thorin
Edited byPeter Zinner
Music byJack Nitzsche
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release dates
    • July 28, 1982 (1982-07-28)
    • August 13, 1982 (1982-08-13)
    (general release)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6–7 million[1][2]
Box office$190 million[3]

The film was commercially released in the US on August 13, 1982. It was well received by critics, with a number calling it the best film of 1982. It also was a financial success, grossing $190 million against a budget that was between $6–$7 million.[1] Gossett won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, making him the first Black male to do so, as well as a Golden Globe Award. The film also received Oscar nominations for Best Actress (for Debra Winger), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score, also winning for Best Original Song (for "Up Where We Belong").

Plot edit

After his mother's suicide, adolescent Zachary "Zack" Mayo was sent to live with his alcoholic womanizing father, Byron, a US Navy petty officer stationed in US Naval Base Subic Bay, Philippines and grew up as a military brat. Now an adult, Zack has graduated from college and prepares to report to Port Rainier, an Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), located near Port Townsend, Washington. Zack surprises Byron by announcing his intention to become a Navy jet pilot.

Upon arrival at AOCS, Zack and his fellow recruits meet Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley, their stern, no-nonsense drill instructor. Foley says any OCs that are mentally or physically unfit to be a US Navy officer will be dismissed. Male candidates are also warned about "Puget Sound Debs", local girls aspiring to marry a Naval Aviator and who will use pregnancy to entrap an officer. Soon after, Zack and fellow candidate, Sid Worley, meet two young factory workers, Paula Pokrifki and Lynette Pomeroy, at a Navy dance. Zack begins a relationship with Paula, while Sid dates Lynette.

Zack is eventually caught peddling contraband uniform accessories to cash-strapped candidates so they can pass inspections. Foley punishes Zack with a weekend of rigorous hazing to force his resignation, telling him that he lacks the character to be an officer. When Zack still refuses to quit, Foley dismisses him from the program. Zack breaks down emotionally and admits he has no options in civilian life. Finally persuaded of Zack's commitment, Foley relents and assigns him to cleaning work.

At dinner with Paula's family, her mother and younger sister appear enchanted with Zack but her step-father acts with hostility. Zack later learns that Paula's absent biological father was an officer candidate who abandoned Paula's mother when she became pregnant. As it nears time to transfer to another base for the next training phase, Zack ends his and Paula's relationship, which she reluctantly accepts.

During the final obstacle-course run, rather than break the base's course record, Zack stops to encourage his teammate, Casey Seeger, to complete the run so she can graduate. Zack dines with Sid and his parents and learns that, after Sid is commissioned, he is expected to marry his late brother's fiancée. Meanwhile, Lynette tells Sid she may be pregnant.

After a severe anxiety attack during a high-altitude simulation in a pressure chamber, Sid quits the program. He goes to Lynette's dilapidated house and proposes marriage, saying that he never wanted a military career and was only assuming his deceased brother's role to please his family, while Lynette has helped him be his real self. Lynette is thrilled with the ring Sid has brought until she hears he has quit his course. She tells him that there is no baby; it was a 'false alarm', yet Sid is keener than ever for them to marry, explaining they can move back to his home of Oklahoma, live with his parents and he'll resume his old JC Penney's job. A stunned Lynnette rejects Sid, saying she likes him but she always wanted to marry a naval aviator and 'live overseas'. A dejected Sid leaves, and Zack and Paula arrive soon after, looking for him; Lynette recaps what happened and Zack accuses her of faking being pregnant, which she denies.

Zack and Paula find Sid at a motel where he has died by suicide. Zack, blaming himself, heads back to the base, intending to quit. He angrily confronts Foley, who refuses Zack's resignation and challenges him to settle their differences in martial arts combat. Zack lands several blows on a surprised Foley before the latter incapacitates Zack; he says it is Zack's choice to quit.

Zack completes his training and is commissioned as an officer; following tradition, he and the other graduates receive their first salute from Foley. Zack thanks Foley for not giving up on him. Before Zack departs, he sees Foley training new recruits like he was in the beginning.

Zack surprises Paula at her workplace, they embrace then he carries her out in his arms to everyone's applause, including Lynette's.

Cast edit

Production edit

Writing edit

The film was based on Douglas Day Stewart's own experiences as a Naval Aviation Officer Candidate. Stewart had enrolled with the intention of becoming a pilot, but was later disqualified due to a medical issue, and was transferred to a unit overseeing the transportation of 7th Marine Regiment to Vietnam.[5][6][7] After leaving the navy, he found success as a television and film screenwriter, and decided to write a script based on anecdotes from Candidate School.

The character Paula was based on a local factory worker whom he'd had a relationship with during Candidate School, though he did not go on to marry her.[5]

Casting edit

Originally, folk music singer and occasional actor John Denver was signed to play Zack Mayo. But a casting process eventually involved Jeff Bridges, Harry Hamlin, Christopher Reeve, John Travolta, and Richard Gere.[8][9] Gere eventually beat all the other actors for the part. Travolta had turned down the role, as he did with American Gigolo (another Richard Gere hit).[9][10]

The role of Paula was originally given to Sigourney Weaver,[11] then to Anjelica Huston[11] and later to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who dropped out to do the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High instead.[12] Eventually, Debra Winger replaced Leigh for the role of Paula. Rebecca De Mornay,[12] Meg Ryan,[11] and Geena Davis[11] auditioned for the role of Paula.

In spite of the strong on-screen chemistry between Gere and Winger, the actors did not get along during filming. Publicly, she called him a "brick wall" while he admitted there was "tension" between them. Thirty years later, Gere was complimentary towards Winger when he said that she was much more open to the camera than he was, and he appreciated the fact that she presented him with an award at the Rome Film Festival.[13]

R. Lee Ermey was originally the main cast for Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley due to his time of being an actual drill instructor for the United States Marine Corps at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in the 1960s. However, Taylor Hackford instead cast Louis Gossett Jr. and had Ermey coach him for his role as the film's technical advisor. It was there where the "steers and queers" comment from Gossett's character in the 1982 movie came from, which was later used for Ermey's role in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.[14]

Hackford kept Gossett Jr. in separate living quarters from other actors during production so Gossett could intimidate them more during his scenes as drill instructor.[15] In addition to R. Lee Ermey, Gossett was advised by Gunnery Sergeant Buck Welscher, an actual drill instructor at Aviation Officer Candidate School, NAS Pensacola. He can be seen leading the senior class after the run.[15]

Filming locations edit

The film was shot in late 1981 on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, at Port Townsend and Fort Worden. The US Navy did not permit filming at NAS Pensacola in the Florida panhandle, the site of the actual Aviation Officer Candidate School[16] in 1981. Deactivated US Army base Fort Worden stood in for the location of the school, an actual Naval Air Station in the Puget Sound area, NAS Whidbey Island.

A motel room in Port Townsend, The Tides Inn on Water Street (48°06′38″N 122°45′54″W / 48.1105°N 122.765°W / 48.1105; -122.765), was used for the film.[17] There was a plaque outside the room noting it as a filming location, although the room has been extensively refurbished. Some early scenes of the movie were filmed in Bremerton, with ships of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the background.

The "Dilbert Dunker" scenes were filmed in the swimming pool at what is now Mountain View Elementary School (Port Townsend Jr. High School during filming).[17] According to the director's commentary on the DVD, the dunking machine was constructed specifically for the film and was an exact duplicate of the actual one used by the navy. As of 2010, Mountain View Elementary was closed and was home to the Mountain View Commons, which holds the police station, food bank, and the YMCA, the latter of which holds the pool.

The filming location of Paula Pokrifiki's house was 1003 Tremont in Port Townsend.[17] As of 2009, the house was shrouded by a large hedge, and the front porch had been remodeled. The neighboring homes and landscape look identical to their appearance in the film, including the "crooked oak tree" across the street from the Pokrifiki home. This oak tree is visible in the scene near the end of the film in which Richard Gere returns to the home to request Paula's help in finding his friend Sid. In the film, the plot has Paula leaving on a ferry ride away from the naval base. In reality, Paula's home is located approximately 8 blocks from Fort Worden.

Lynette Pomeroy's house was located on Mill Road, just west of the main entrance of the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill. The house no longer exists, but the concrete driveway pad is still visible.

The interior of the USO building at Fort Worden State Park was used for the reception scene near the beginning of the film.

Battery Kinzie, scene of "I got nowhere else to go!"

The concrete structure used during the famous Richard Gere line "I got nowhere else to go!" is the Battery Kinzie located at Fort Worden State Park. The scene was filmed on the southwest corner of the upper level of the battery. The "obstacle course" was constructed specifically for the film and was located in the grassy areas just south and southeast of Battery Kinzie.

The decompression chamber was one of the only sets constructed for the film and as of 2013, it was still intact in the basement of building number 225 of the Fort Worden State Park. It can be seen through the windows of the building's basement.

Building 204 of Fort Worden State Park was used as the dormitory and its porch was used for the film's closing "silver dollar" scene.

The blimp hangar used for the famous fight scene between Louis Gossett Jr. and Richard Gere is located at Fort Worden State Park and as of 2013 is still intact, but has been converted into a 1200-seat performing arts center called the McCurdy Pavilion.

The filming location for the exterior of "TJ's Restaurant" is located at the Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend. The space is now occupied by a company that makes sails. The fictional "TJ's" is an homage to the Trader Jon's bar in Pensacola, Florida, as a naval aviator hangout until it closed later in November 2003. For years, it was traditional for graduating Aviation Officer Candidate School classes to celebrate their commissioning at "Trader's."[citation needed][18]

Props edit

Richard Gere rides a 750cc T140E Triumph Bonneville. Paramount purchased two of the motorcycle from Dewey's Cycle Shop in Seattle. The stunt bike is on display in the Planet Hollywood restaurant, Orlando, Florida.[19][20] In the United Kingdom, Paramount linked with Triumph Motorcycles (Meriden) Ltd on a mutual promotion campaign. Triumph's then-chairman, John Rosamond, in his book Save The Triumph Bonneville! (Veloce 2009), states it was agreed cinemas showing the film would be promoted at their local Triumph dealer, and T140E Triumph Bonnevilles supplied by the dealer would be displayed in the cinema's foyers.[citation needed]

Ending edit

Richard Gere balked at shooting the ending of the film, in which Zack arrives at Paula's factory wearing his naval dress whites and carries her off the factory floor. Gere thought the ending would not work because it was too sentimental. Director Taylor Hackford agreed with Gere until, during a rehearsal, the extras playing the workers began to cheer and cry. When Gere saw the scene later, with a portion of the score (that was used to write "Up Where We Belong") played at the right tempo, he said it gave him chills. Gere is now convinced Hackford made the right decision.[21] Screenwriter Michael Hauge, in his book Writing Screenplays That Sell, echoed this opinion: "I don't believe that those who criticized this Cinderella-style ending were paying very close attention to who exactly is rescuing whom."[citation needed]

Release edit

Two versions of the film exist. The original, an uncensored R-rated cut and an edited-for-broadcast television cut (which first aired on NBC in 1986) are nearly identical. The main difference is that the nudity and a majority of the foul language are edited out when the film airs on regular television. However, the group marching song near the beginning of the film and Mayo's solo marching song are not voiceover edits; they are reshoots of those scenes for television. Also, the sex scene between Mayo and Paula is cut in half, and the scene where Mayo finds Sid's naked body hanging in the shower is also edited.

Home media edit

The film has been available on various formats, first on VHS and also DVD. It was first released on DVD in 2000 with two extra features, audio commentary and film trailer. It was released as a collectors edition in 2007 with new bonus material. The film debuted on Blu-ray in the US by Warner Bros. and UK by Paramount Pictures in 2013, however the same bonus features ported from the 2007 DVD are only on the US release.[22][23] It was re-released in 2017 by Paramount Pictures.[24]

Reception edit

Box office edit

An Officer and a Gentleman was an enormous box office success and went on to become the third-highest-grossing film of 1982, after E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and Tootsie.[25] It grossed $3,304,679 in its opening weekend[26] and $129,795,554 overall at the US and Canadian box office.[27] It sold an estimated 44 million tickets in the US and Canada. Internationally, it grossed $60 million for a worldwide gross of $190 million.[3]

Critical response edit

An Officer and a Gentleman was well received by critics and is widely considered one of the best films of 1982.[28][29][30] The film holds a 79% rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 reviews, with the consensus: "Old-fashioned without sacrificing its characters to simplicity, An Officer and a Gentleman successfully walks the fine line between sweeping romance and melodrama".[31] On Metacritic it has a score of 75% based on reviews from 8 critics.[32]

It received rave reviews from critics, most notably from Roger Ebert, who gave it four out of four stars. Ebert described An Officer and a Gentleman as "a wonderful movie precisely because it's so willing to deal with matters of the takes chances, takes the time to know and develop its characters, and by the time this movie's wonderful last scene comes along, we know exactly what's happening, and why, and it makes us very happy."[33]

Rex Reed gave a glowing review where he commented: "This movie will make you feel ten feet tall!"[citation needed] British film critic Mark Kermode, an admirer of Taylor Hackford, observed, "It's a much tougher film than people remember it being; it's not a romantic movie, it's actually a movie about blue-collar, down-trodden people."[34][better source needed]

Accolades edit

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Award Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[38] Best Actress Debra Winger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Won
Best Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen Douglas Day Stewart Nominated
Best Film Editing Peter Zinner Nominated
Best Original Score Jack Nitzsche Nominated
Best Original Song "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
British Academy Film Awards[39] Best Original Music Jack Nitzsche Nominated
Best Original Song "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
Directors Guild of America Awards[40] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Taylor Hackford Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[41] Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Richard Gere Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Debra Winger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Louis Gossett Jr. Won
David Keith Nominated
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
New Star of the Year – Actor David Keith Nominated
New Star of the Year – Actress Lisa Blount Nominated
Grammy Awards[42] Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – "Up Where We Belong" Won
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Louis Gossett Jr. Won
National Board of Review Awards[43] Top Ten Films 4th place
Writers Guild of America Awards[44] Best Drama Written Directly for the Screenplay Douglas Day Stewart Nominated

Louis Gossett Jr. became the first Black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the fourth Black Oscar winner overall (after Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier and Isaac Hayes).

Producer Don Simpson complained about the song "Up Where We Belong", "The song is no good. It isn't a hit," and unsuccessfully demanded it be cut from the film. It later became the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100.

Soundtrack edit

Track listing (original recording) edit

Song Lyrics by Performed by
"Up Where We Belong" Will Jennings Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
"Theme from 'An Officer and a Gentleman" Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie Jack Nitzche
"Treat Me Right" D. Lubahn and Pat Benatar Pat Benatar
"Hungry for Your Love" Van Morrison Van Morrison
"Be Real" D. Sahm Sir Douglas Quintet
"Tush" B. Gibbons, D. Hill and F. Beard ZZ Top
"Tunnel of Love" Mark Knopfler Dire Straits
"Feelings" Morris Albert Morris Albert
"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown Greg Pecknold
"Anchors Aweigh" Charles A. Zimmerman, George D. Lottman and Alfred Hart Miles
"Moon River" Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
"Big Money Dollars" John Thomas Lenox
"Gamelan Gong: Barong Dance" David Lewiston
"The Plains of Mindanao" Bayanihan 7
"Galan Kangin" Gong Kebyar, Sebatu
"Love Theme From 'An Officer And A Gentleman" Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Lee Ritenour Lee Ritenour
"The Morning After Love Theme" Jack Nitzsche Jack Nitzsche

Charts edit

Chart (1982/83) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[45] 28
United States (Billboard 200)[46][47] 38

Adaptations edit

  • The Takarazuka Revue adapted the movie as a musical in 2010 in Japan (Takarazuka Grand Theater; Tokyo Takarazuka Theater). The production was performed by Star Troupe and the cast included Reon Yuzuki as Zack Mayo, Nene Yumesaki as Paula Pokrifki and Kaname Ouki as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley.[48]
  • A stage musical, with book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen and songs by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner, directed by Simon Phillips, opened on May 18, 2012, at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia.[49] The production received mixed reviews[50] and closed after six weeks.[51]
  • In 1990 the American TV show The Simpsons adapted the iconic final scene of the film in the 9th episode of the first season, "Life on the Fast Lane". The gender roles are swapped as Marge plays the role of Gere, finding Homer's Winger in the nuclear power plant, after fears on infidelity in their marriage are swept away as Marge is carried away by Homer in the exact fashion as the movie. The tribute to this film has become just as iconic to the point many Simpsons fans do not realize it is an homage.
  • In 1992 the American sitcom Clarissa Explains It All parodies the final scene in season 3's first episode "Janet's Old Boyfriend." Main character Clarissa imagines her mother being swept away like Debra Winger in the film by her visiting old high school boyfriend Joey Russo as Richard Gere.
  • Barcelona (1994) was premised by director Whit Stillman as "if the officer and the gentleman were two different people."

References edit

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External links edit