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Dress Gray (1986)

TV Movie  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery  -  9 March 1986 (USA)
7.1
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When a first-classman's insignia is found on the riverbank near the drowned body of plebe David Hand, the specter of murder casts a shadow of scandal across the U.S. Grant Military Academy.... See full summary »

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Title: Dress Gray (TV Movie 1986)

Dress Gray (TV Movie 1986) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Judge Hand
...
Rysam 'Ry' Slaight
...
Gen. Axel Rylander
...
David Hand
...
Elizabeth Hand
...
Gen. Charles Hedges
...
Mrs. Iris Rylander
Lane Smith ...
Col. King
...
Maj. Clifford Bassett (as James B. Sikking)
...
Sgt. Oliphant
...
Maj. Consor
...
Lugar (as Tim van Patten)
...
Buck
Peter Nelson ...
Barnes
Louise Latham ...
Mrs. Loerna Tutwiler
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Storyline

When a first-classman's insignia is found on the riverbank near the drowned body of plebe David Hand, the specter of murder casts a shadow of scandal across the U.S. Grant Military Academy. General Hedges, the headmaster of the school, is determined to keep the beleaguered school out of the headlines and attempts to cover-up the likelihood of murder by wielding his considerable influence to pass it off as a simple drowning. This is done in spite of forensic reports that show that, shortly before his death, David Hand participated in "consensual sexual relations" with another man. Letters from the dead boy, which the Army Intelligence Department "confiscates" from his sister's New York apartment, implicate Ry Slaight as the first-classman with whom David was in love. As General Hedges says, "You cannot have a murder without a murderer." He offers Slaight the opportunity to "go quietly" which means he would be washed out into the infantry and quickly bound for Vietnam. Professing his ... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

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Release Date:

9 March 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La divisa strappata  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

During the search for Cadet Hand's body, the helicopter pilot spots the body in the river. Hand's head is above water, over a log, and his neck is arched, with his head looking forward. When the divers get to the body, Hand's head is face down in the water. See more »

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User Reviews

 
First-rate U.S. miniseries, a gripping murder thriller set in a military academy
9 August 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a highly superior TV miniseries which has never been on DVD and can only be seen on old video copies. It is based upon a best-selling novel about scandal, murder and cover-up inside a military academy in the 1960s, at the time of the Vietnam War, written by Lucian Truscott IV, grandson of World War II General Lucian Truscott Jr. It all rings very true indeed, and the script is taut and brilliant, written by none other than Gore Vidal. The plot is complex and highly textured. The outstanding performance in the film is by the amazing Hal Holbrook as the Commandant of Cadets in the Academy, General Hedges. Rarely has the brilliant Holbrook had the opportunity to take so much screen time to develop the depth of character we see here. Hedges is a scheming, relentless, conspiratorial, cunning, and extreme believer in 'the system', and the need at all costs to keep all scandal under wraps. Alec Baldwin plays the cadet with a conscience who confront Hedges, in a true David versus Goliath saga of one lone cadet against all the power the system can muster, in his struggle to reveal the truth about the murder of another cadet. Strangely, this intensely male movie was directed by a woman director, Glenn Jordan. I think that may have given it a special dimension, as she sees all that male bonding and shouting and bulging of biceps and coursing of testosterone as something peculiar, and takes a step back to look at it properly. Most male directors would have taken it for granted, as wallpaper. Jordan keeps a highly professional pace throughout this tortuous plot, and sees to it that we do not lose our way with the plethora of characters and endless possibilities as to what might really have happened. She rightly concentrates more on the system and the cover-up than on the crime itself. In this story, whodunit is not the point, but rather will justice triumph or will the lone cadet win his struggle, especially when his own life is seriously at risk. It is strong stuff, set in an unusual milieu which we rarely see and think about even less. All that saluting and standing to attention and then at ease and the uniform known as 'dress gray' (source of the title), the medals, the posturing of the officers, the intrigues, the hierarchical battles, the pomposity, the abuses of power, the false appeals to 'national security' to justify the unjustifiable, smother the truth, and cover up anything nasty, it is all pretty overwhelming. The miniseries is so riveting that you cannot turn it off, you have to see it in one sitting. It is that gripping. Alec Baldwin gives a fabulous performance as the brave cadet. Susan Hess, who vanished off most screens long ago, is just right as the girl friend and has a special charm of her own. Lloyd Bridges gives his usual solid presence to the role of the Superintendent. Eddie Albert is maybe not the right choice for the powerful 'honorary judge' who 'owns Louisiana', but he does OK. Lane Smith is magnificently unctuous as a toady colonel who will suppress anything with a sly grin, and whose highest aim is to be a smoothly functioning cog in the system. This film is more relevant now than when it was made, since more of this goes on today than then, and the invoking of phoney national security concerns has now become institutionalised to such an extent that we can see that this film was way ahead of its time in addressing that problem in a serious manner. The underlying message of this miniseries is profound, and was brought well to the surface by Gore Vidal's pointed dialogue and structuring of the scenes in his excellent script.


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