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 »




Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


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Complete series cast summary:
 Judge Hand 2 episodes, 1986
 Rysam 'Ry' Slaight 2 episodes, 1986
 Gen. Axel Rylander 2 episodes, 1986
 David Hand 2 episodes, 1986
 Elizabeth Hand 2 episodes, 1986
 Gen. Charles Hedges 2 episodes, 1986
 Mrs. Iris Rylander 2 episodes, 1986
 Col. King 2 episodes, 1986
 Maj. Clifford Bassett 2 episodes, 1986
 Sgt. Oliphant 2 episodes, 1986
 Maj. Consor 2 episodes, 1986
Peter Nelson ...
 Mrs. Loerna Tutwiler 2 episodes, 1986
 Hank Beaumont 2 episodes, 1986
 Cullinan 2 episodes, 1986
David Harum ...
 Cadet Barham 2 episodes, 1986
Steve Kosko ...
 Area Sergeant 2 episodes, 1986
Patricia Herd ...
 Secretary 2 episodes, 1986
Rick Goldman ...
Arthur French ...
 AIA Agent 2 episodes, 1986
 AIA Agent 2 episodes, 1986
 Hedge's Secretary 2 episodes, 1986
Patrik Baldauff ...
 AIA Agent 2 episodes, 1986
 AIA Agent 2 episodes, 1986


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

9 March 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La divisa strappata  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In 1980, producer Richard Roth announced this as a major movie to be directed by Lindsay Anderson. See more »


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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The Age Of Search And Eliminate
14 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

Lucian K. Truscott IV, scion of a military family, who went into writing and radical politics penned the novel from which Gore Vidal wrote a brilliant screenplay. Closeted gay men will identify with the murder victim and the devastating effects on the psyche that the closet can have.

Patrick Cassidy plays a plebe at U.S. Grant Military Academy which is West Point in all, but name is a closeted gay man who is hardly a typical stereotype. He's a champion athlete in high school who is the son of Eddie Albert one of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the state of Louisiana. He's also a total top and when someone he's involved with bottoms him, he has to be killed strictly as a matter of self defense. The body is found in the Hudson River.

Ron Rifkin who is the Academy physician conducts an autopsy on Cassidy and lets slip to Alec Baldwin another cadet who happens to have been involved with Cassidy's sister Susan Hess that he thinks this could be murder after Baldwin tells him that Cassidy was an excellent swimmer. That's a leak that sprung unfortunately when Deputy Commander of the Academy Hal Holbrook and his hatchet man Lane Smith decide to cover up the murder and say it was an accidental drowning.

This television film made in 1986 and set in the Sixties before Stonewall has an exceptional relevancy today. Back then being gay was the most god awful taboo there was. If you risked admitting it, you had an automatic exemption from the service that clung to you like a disease if you wanted to enter any other professions where being gay was similarly frowned upon. As we are now trying to get rid of the military policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' it would do well to remember that the implementation of that by the Clinton administration was a reluctant compromise and a lessening of the ages old military policy of search and eliminate.

As for Holbrook just the thought of the fact that the U.S. Grant Military Academy ever even had one of those kind of people as a cadet is an anathema to him. When Baldwin insists on digging at the behest of Susan Hess and his own sense of honor about the truth willing out, Holbrook becomes his enemy and is ready to hang Baldwin with that self same honor code.

Holbrook is indeed a sinister figure, but Eddie Albert who in his career played an astonishing variety of roles is just as sinister here. He wants to know the truth, except if his son turns out to have been gay. At that point he's all for shoving Cassidy's corpse back into the closet.

Even with such veteran pros in the cast as Albert, Holbrook, Lloyd Bridges as the school's commandant and Alexis Smith as Baldwin's mother, the best performance in the lot is that of Patrick Cassidy. He gives a riveting portrayal in flashback of a closeted gay man trying to enter a most macho profession and the devastating effects of the closet.

The lives of the people shown in Dress Gray are the best argument you could make for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allowing GLBTQ people to serve openly in the military. This film ought to be required viewing for the members of Congress.

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