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Synopsis for
Stripes (1981) More at IMDbPro »

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Bill Murray decides to be all that he can be -- and it ain't pretty -- in this hit comedy. John Winger (Murray) is a quick-witted loser who comes home after losing his job to discover that his car has been repossessed and his girlfriend is leaving him. With no idea of what to do next, Winger and his best friend Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) impulsively join the Army, more as a practical joke than a career goal.

Winger and Russell soon find themselves in basic training under the hard-nosed, professional Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates), who is stuck with an outfit of goofballs, including overweight Ox (John Candy), naive Cruiser (John Deihl), stoner Elmo (Judge Reinhold), and the appropriately-nicknamed Psycho (Conrad Dunn). Things do not go well, and ultimately Sgt. Hulka is injured in a training accident. Their commanding officer (John Larroquette) threatens to make them all take basic training again!

Winger and Russell find time to romance two pretty female MPs, Stella (P.J. Soles) and Louise (Sean Young). At graduation, Winger leads the platoon in a crazy drill routine which nonetheless impresses the General. The entire platoon is sent to Italy, and are reunited with Sergeant Hulka.

Stealing the top-secret EM50 (a kind of armored personnel carrier disguised as an RV) that they were supposed to be testing, John and Russell go to visit their girlfriends in Germany. Their platoon goes to find them, but is so incompetent that they wind up in communist Czechoslovakia! The errant soldiers and their girlfriends come to the rescue with the EM50, fighting their way in as Russell reads the documentation for the advanced weapons systems. With a little help from Sergeant Hulka (the only platoon member NOT captured), they break out the others and are ultimately decorated for valor.

Remarkably, Stripes was made with the full cooperation of the U.S. Army, despite its less-than-rosy view of the all-volunteer armed forces.


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