On several occasions, the word "repeat" is used while speaking on the radio. In the Marine Corps, the use of the word "repeat" on the radio is reserved solely for talking to artillery units to request a repeat of the last fire mission. The term used would be: "say again your last" or "I say again."
A modern communications tower is visible in a shot of a helicopter taking off after they enter the city and it is being strafed by the tanks. Occurs during the scene of them being filmed by the film crew while they are sitting down waiting for orders.
The flak jackets worn by the characters were M1969 Fragmentation Vest, while USMC in Vietnam wore M1955 Jacket, with a rope ridge on right shoulder and plates of ballistic nylon visible in lower torso.
In the "Eskimo pussy is mighty cold" running scene, the squad runs past a red on white Yield sign. At the time this movie is set the Yield signs were the black lettering and outline on a yellow background.
When Joker and Cowboy are in the head mopping the floor, Cowboy moves the mop bucket that is supposed to have water in it. When Cowboy sits the bucket down back on the floor, you can tell by the sound of it that the bucket is empty.
When crossing the crossing bars, the recruits are told that it should take no less than ten seconds to navigate this particular obstacle. He should have said that it should take no more than ten seconds.
When Cowboy has finished asking for tank backup on the radio,
he makes the common Hollywood mistake of saying "over and out" rather than the correct "out". "Over" means handing over to the other party to receive their transmission. "Out" means you have finished the conversation.
During the range shoot, Hartmann watches over Pyle's shoulder and compliments him on his shooting skill. In reality, he would not be able to see the bullet holes from the firing point, especially without binoculars. Sometimes, each shot may be indicated by the butt party, but the prior shot of the targets did not show that happening.
When Joker talks to Lt. Cleves at the mass grave, he introduces himself as "Sergeant Joker". However in an earlier scene (the editing meeting for Stars and Stripes) Joker wears the rank insignia of a Corporal on the collar of his shirt.
When Hartmann slaps Pyle during the drill & comp scene, the second marine in formation behind Pyle is played by two different actors between cuts of Hartmann slapping Pyle with his right hand and Hartmann slapping Pyle with his left hand.
When Joker and his photographer travel in a Sikorsky UH-34 helicopter to report on the action at the front, there are several exterior shots of the trees rushing by underneath them. During these shots, the shadow is of a Bell Jet Ranger, a different, newer helicopter.
Immediately after the "This is my rifle, this is my gun" scene, the recruits are drilling and it is obvious their shirt collars are unbuttoned. In the Marine Corps, recruits do not unbutton their collars until they qualify at the rifle range. Soon after, their collars are buttoned and remain so until after they qualify on the rifle range.
Upon the initial attack at Hue City, many of the soldier's "bullets" are inconsistent with the actual line of fire. Sometimes the buildings show bullet impacts before the weapons are fired, while at other times, the weapons are fired with a clear line to the buildings, yet no impact craters or impact damage and smoke is seen - evidence that the soldiers are firing blanks.
When Eightball ducks behind the debris to inform Cowboy of their misdirection in Hue City, a handle on his back pack is seen leaning against his gun in one shot. In the next shot, the handle is nowhere to be seen.
When Private Pyle is on the firing range shooting at the targets, the sergeant in the background walks up, then bends at the waist checking on accuracy. The next scene is an over-the-shoulder shot of Private Pyle. The next scene shows the sergeant further away walking up to his location in the first scene.
(at around 1h 15 mins) Crazy Earl has been shooting right-handed. When the second group of NVA run between the buildings, he is shown from the rear shooting left-handed. Afterwards, he is shown from the front holding his rifle right-handed again, just before "The Bird is the Word" starts playing.
In the opening of the movie, when Hartman is walking around the squad bay speaking to the recruits, Lawrence is assigned the last rack at the end of the squad bay, but moments later he is in the middle, a couple racks away from Joker.
At the beginning when the Marine recruits are being lectured and/or questioned by Hartmann by their bunks, Cowboy's, Joker's, Pyle's and another's (possibly Snowball's) bunks change position relative to one another. In fact, it seems that this is a constant continuity problem when the Marines are depicted in the barracks.
When Hartman shuts off the lights for the first time in the barracks, he uses the four switches beside him. But when he enters to awaken the privates using the garbage can, he uses the single light switch outside the barracks room.
When Sgt Hartman asks Private Joker if he believes in the Virgin Mary, he is holding a billy club. A few seconds later, he strikes Private Joker with an open hand, the same hand that held the billy club a moment earlier. But he never dropped the club.
When Sgt. Hartman confronts Joker over his John Wayne imitation, Cowboy's shirt front is crumpled from Sgt. Hartman's grabbing it. Cowboy is standing at attention. Just after Hartman strikes Joker, the shirt front is smooth again, even though Cowboy has not moved.
When the Drill Instructor walks down the row of recruits during his opening speech, Pvt. Pyle can be seen standing at the end of the row to Joker's right. Later, after Joker mouths off, the Drill Instructor moves down the line to Joker's left, eventually coming to Pvt. Pyle.
In the barracks scene, as Sergeant Hartman punches Private Joker with his left fist, the camera angle changes and Sergeant Hartman's left hand is seen open while his right fist is punching Private Joker.
When Gunnery Sgt. Hartman is talking to Pyle and he is laughing there is a 180 break. Its goes from over Hartman's left shoulder in one shot and in the next shot the camera is over Pyle's left shoulder.
When Joker and Animal Mother have their first verbal confrontation about Joker's job as a 'Combat Correspondent', Animal Mother has just asked Joker if he has seen much Combat. The shot switches to behind Animal Mother to see Joker's response. Animal Mother has what appears to be a machete in a sheath slung over his ammo belts across his back. The handle is clearly way up above his neck and should be visible from the front. When the shot switches back to Joker's perspective looking at Animal Mother, the machete is gone, and he is now wearing a military field knife attached combat style to the front of his fatigues.
During the beginning of the sniper scene Cowboy tells members of his squad that they're moving up to Animal Mother to kill the sniper. As they approach, the camera follows them from behind, then switches to a side view tracking shot. In some versions of the film, about 5-8 seconds into this sequence, a member of the crew wearing jeans can be seen ducking low.
Just before the scene inside the helicopter with the door gunner there is footage looking down on the trees from the helicopter. You can clearly see that the shadow of the helicopter is that of a Bell Ranger instead of the H-34 Choctaw they were supposed to be flying on.
In numerous scenes marines are seen wearing stateside black leather boots. The jungle boot, with its green nylon and cleated sole was more suited for tropical weather and humidity. The stateside boot would have been impractical for the field and uncomfortable. Only recently arrived marines from stateside would have worn them until issued the correct jungle boot.
In the first shot of the graduation from the Parris Island one can see tall trees and buildings in the background, but during the close shot there are only small trees with no buildings. It's because the first shot was an actual shot from the graduation and the second one was shot in London.
At the conclusion of the Colonel's questioning of Joker in front of the mass grave, the Colonel salutes Joker. Apart from being improper for an officer to salute an enlisted man, salutes are not rendered in a combat operations area, due to snipers actively seeking officers as targets.
Many of the Marines who are advancing on Hue City have their index fingers on the triggers of their M16 rifles and M60 machine guns. This is a violation of the first rule of firearms safety, which every Marine learns in boot camp: "Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target."
In one of the Boot Camp scenes, the platoon is shown running in formation. Several of the major characters are at the head of the formation, including Private Pyle. However, the farthest right position (which would become the column head after a right face) is reserved for squad leaders. There is no way that Private Pyle would have been in the position of squad leader, and he would therefore have been further back in the ranks.
The Doorgunner (Tim Colceri) is wearing a tank crewman's crash-helmet, not a helicopter crewman's crash-helmet. It's much smaller, is not the correct color (it should be white), and it lacks a retractable glare visor.
During the Vietnam segment most of the Marines are seen armed with the Colt Model 604, notable for its lack of a forward assist, this is incorrect as they were only ever used by the USAF. The Marines should be using the M16A1 which was universally issued to the Army and Marine Corps in 1967, replacing the prototype XM16E1 and the M14.
Joker, Animal, and the helicopter door gunner all occasionally fire very long bursts from their M60 machine guns. Real Marines are taught to fire automatic weapons in short bursts to prevent overheating and jamming, and to conserve ammunition.
When Private Pyle is shooting live rounds during a target practice drill he is seen reloading the weapon with a new magazine. The old magazine, however, is shown to have at least one round left in it which is an error (counting bullets) the strict Sergeant Hartman would most likely not have Pyle get away with.
Throughout recruit training, Joker wears wire framed glasses instead of government issue glasses like Cowboy's (although it is true that recruits with special prescriptions may have to wait for spectacles to be supplied).
When the full colonel approaches Joker and his friends at the open pit grave, all parties salute each other. In reality, saluting is not done in combat areas, since it identifies officers as primary targets. Also in this scene, the colonel's shirt is missing its required name tape and Marine Corps tape.
The platoon is shown in service uniforms marching in their graduation ceremony, then the toilet scene between Joker, Pyle and Hartmann follows. In reality, graduation marks the final day recruits are on the Depot, so the toilet scene should have occurred prior to graduation.
The Marines in that era utilized UH34 Choctaws, gas piston engined helicopters. What were shown in the film were Westland Wessex turbine powered models made under contract from Sikorsky USA in the UK. Since Kubrik filmed entirely in England these were the best he could he do, but he knew the Marines always got the leftovers, so no Huey's UH-1s for a few years.
Before Private Cowboy's squad moves up to search for the sniper, Joker reloads his rifle. Between the scene where he reloads his rifle to the scene where he prepares to shoot the sniper, he doesn't take any shots with his rifle, but when he attempts a shot on the sniper, there is no ammunition in his magazine.
While some people claim that Joker's M16 was out of ammunition when he attempted to shoot the sniper, in fact it was jammed, which was a common problem for the M16 in Vietnam.
In the head (toilet area), Pvt. Pyle says his ammunition is "seven-six-two millimeter, full metal jacket." Although 762mm is about 30 inches, and what would have been strictly correct is "seven-POINT-six-two millimeter", or about 30 caliber, which is the NATO standard ammunition, it is generally understood by military members that the reference "seven-six-two" implies that he's talking about a 7.62mm rifle round, as is the case with 5.56mm ammo (generally referred to as "five-five-six")
During the December 25 training sequence along the camp roads and through the woods, you can see the trees and other vegetation are in full bloom. Since their training is 13 weeks long, even in South Carolina during the December and even November, the trees and vegetation would be bare and the grass would be brownish and it would be cold enough that the soldiers would be wearing their field jackets. The movie appears to have been filmed most likely in the spring or summer.
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
Pvt. Pyle sits down on the fourth toilet to shoot himself in the head. It's the one right from where the toilet paper is. In the close-up that follows he's on the third toilet, left from the paper holder.
After Doc Jay and Eightball are killed by the Vietnamese sniper and Animal Mother yells to Cowboy that it is okay to move up the squad, Cowboy calls for Stunt, Dolon, Rock, and No-Doze to follow him while Joker and Rafterman choose to follow him on their own, a total of seven Marines, including Cowboy. In the shot that follows, however, only six Marines are shown moving ahead. In the side shot, just before they meet up with Animal Mother, there are only five. When they crouch down by the first wall, there are six, including Animal Mother. When they move away from the wall, there are eight. When they search the building, Animal Mother order two marines off in one direction and the two reporters to follow him, making a total of five (plus Cowboy), and the same number gather around the fallen sniper; however, it is conceivable that the two missing marines are searching a different part of the building.
Pyle would not have been able to shoot Gunnery Sergeant Hartman with his rifle in the head. Live ammunition is only issued to recruits at the shooting range, and is strictly counted before and after the range practice. Additionally, no live ammunition is allowed in barracks.
Leonard's suicide is (understandably) sanitized. Firing an M-14 rifle with the muzzle in, or close to, a person's mouth would essentially disintegrate that person's head (from the gas expansion more than from the bullet). Col. La Garde details a similar (using a 1903 Springfield rifle in .30-06, the ballistic equivalent of the 7.62 mm cartridge used in the M-14) suicide in his 1916 book "Gunshot Injuries."