As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.
Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is an expert United States Naval Aviator. When he encounters a pair of MiGs over the Persian Gulf, his wingman is clearly outflown and freaks. On almost no fuel, Maverick is able to talk him back down to the carrier. When his wingman turns in his wings, Maverick is moved up in the standings and sent to the Top Gun Naval Flying School. There he fights the attitudes of the other pilots and an old story of his father's death in combat that killed others due to his father's error. Maverick struggles to be the best pilot, stepping on the toes of his other students and in another way to Charlie Blackwood, a civilian instructor to whom he is strongly attracted. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
A song called "Through the Fire" (by Larry Greene) appears in the closing credits music listings, but is not anywhere in the film. However, this song does appear on the motion picture soundtrack. See more »
The following is an excerpt from a non-fiction story I wrote entitled "Eighteen Years from Olean." Copyright 2004. All Rights Reserved.
The set up is that I'm 18 years old, and about one week after my graduation from High School. I've been having a one year, long distance romance with a girl named Tammy. I've driven 500 miles to surprise her, and here's what we did the first night I arrived
Chapter 11 The Castle Cinema; Olean, New York; Summer 1986
We came back to her place, had dinner with her momI don't remember anyone else being thereand Tammy suggested that we see a movie. There was a new film playing in town that she really wanted to see and asked me if I would take her. Of course I would.
The local two screen cinema was called The Castle, and my memory tells me that it wasnot surprisinglybuilt like a castle, with spires, and uneven brick around the top like Jack-O-Lantern teeth. She told me the name of the movie and I distinctly remember thinking what a stupid title. It sounded like a cheesy cowboy movie. I had not heard of itit was very newand was certain that it was going to suck. I despised westerns. But I would try to suffer through this horrible movie for her sake, knowing full and well that I would hate it.
The film was Top Gun.
Boy was I wrong.
Top Gun was the paradigm of 80's cinema. By that I mean it was a high-octane action/adventure film with a script filled with campy dialog, and a thin, formulaic plot that was driven by a kick-ass soundtrack. It was common of the motion pictures during that decade for the music to be the star; one long rock video, like the ones we watched on that new network MTV (back when they actually played videos).
I'm only a little embarrassed to tell you that Top Gun changed my life. I had already started skydiving by then and the visuals of aviation and the attitude of the pilots drew me in. I saw that movie not less than ten times while it was still playing in theaters, and countless times since on video and DVD. Even now I know every line by heart. It was the script for my generation, introducing such phrases as "Talk to me Goose," "It's time to buzz the tower", "Let's turn and burn", "call the ball" and "I feel the need the need for speed." Obviously I wasn't the only one infatuated with this movie. Top Gun was the winner of the People's Choice Award for 1986, nominated for four Academy Awards (winning one), catapulting six of its songs to Billboard's Top 10, and, oh yeah, it grossed three-hundred million dollars world-wide. It was a popular film. On a practical note, my repeated viewings of Top Gun in theaters taught me an invaluable lesson about performance.
Throughout my time in theater, mostly plays, we were always told that there is no bad audience, only a bad performance. That's a lie.
A film doesn't change from performance to performance. Every line is delivered exactly the same way, with the same timing and the same inflection. The performance give by the actors is identical each time it's viewed; exactly as it was the instant it was captured on film. Yet, I noticed that each time I saw Top Gun in a cinema, the audience reacted differently.
Sometimes they would laugh at the humorous parts, other times not. A few times they cheered when Maverick shot the last MIG, and once or twice they actually chuckled when Goose hit his head on the canopy, breaking his neck. The live people in the audience never, in fact, responded the same way at any two showings of the film. Now since the movie changed not one iota, I came to the conclusion that there are indeed bad audiences.
On occasion, when I have a show that tanks, I reminded myself of the Top Gun rule, and it brings me comfort.
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