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A Few Good Men (1992) Poster

Trivia

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The original play was inspired by an actual Code Red at Guantanamo Bay. Lance Corporal David Cox and 9 other enlisted men tied up a fellow Marine and severely beat him, for snitching to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Cox was acquitted and later Honorably Discharged. In 1994, David Cox mysteriously vanished, and his bullet-riddled body was found three months later. His murder remains unsolved.
Tom Cruise's Jack Nicholson impersonation (when his character is quoting Col. Jessep) was not scripted.
The movie's line "You can't handle the truth!" was voted as the #29 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Jack Nicholson repeated his famous courtroom monologue as Col. Jessep off-camera several times so Rob Reiner could film the reactions of other actors from various angles. Nicholson's memorable on-camera performance was filmed last, but according to Reiner and the other cast members, Nicholson gave it his all every take as if he was on camera. Nicholson said he was "quite spent" by the time he finished.
An unnamed executive gave Aaron Sorkin a note: "If Tom Cruise and Demi Moore aren't going to sleep with each other, why is Demi Moore a woman?" He responded, "I said the obvious answer: Women have purposes other than to sleep with Tom Cruise." He claimed the incident was his worst experience as a screenwriter.
The word "sir" is used 164 times during the movie. That's an average of once every 50 seconds.
The original play "A Few Good Men" by Aaron Sorkin opened at the Music Box Theater on November 15, 1989 and ran for 497 performances.
While filming the scene in which Kendrick is driving Kaffee's group around the base in a Humvee through two rows of marching Marines, Kiefer Sutherland had trouble driving the extra wide vehicle and actually hit Marines on multiple takes.
Writer Aaron Sorkin got the story idea from his sister, who in real life experienced a very similar incident at Guantanamo from the "Lt. Cdr. Galloway" perspective as a female JAG attorney. In that incident, the victim was similarly assaulted by nine Marines and was badly injured, but did not die. Sorkin initially turned the idea into a play, and then this screenplay, which was his very first.
The movie rights for the play "A Few Good Men" were sold before it even premiered.
Tom Cruise's character Lt. Daniel Kaffee was based on Don Marcari, David Iglesias, and Chris Johnson, the 3 military lawyers who actually went to trial in this case.
The title for the play and film came from a long-running recruiting campaign for the U.S. Marine Corps, "We're looking for a few good men." The campaign was slowly phased out through the 1980s with the well-known, "The Few. The Proud. The Marines."
COL Jessep warns LT Kendrick that Santiago needs to score "4646" on his next Proficiency and Conduct report. Jessep is referring to a system by which the performance of enlisted men is rated on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0; a score of 4.6 corresponds to a rating of "Excellent".
Screenwriter William Goldman did an uncredited re-write of the screenplay. Aaron Sorkin was so impressed by Goldman's new dialog (as well as changes that tightened the story) that he re-wrote and re-published the play to incorporate the changes.
One of the ribbons on Colonel Jessup's dress uniform jacket is the Navy Cross. This is the second highest award for wartime valor given to Navy and Marine personnel, behind only the Medal of Honor in order of precedence.
The Aaron Sorkin trademark of showing two characters walking down a hallway toward a moving camera talking sidelong to one another (as seen in The American President (1995), Sports Night (1998) and The West Wing (1999)) originated on this movie. A scene between Kaffee and Ross was written as being set in an office, but Rob Reiner, in an effort to create more action on screen, suggested that it be changed so that they were walking down a hallway.
When searching for an appropriate setting for the trial, the producers learned that regular military courtrooms are plain and featureless offices. In order to create a more photogenic setting, they settled on a vacant courtroom in an empty courthouse.
Aunt Ginny is played by Rob Reiner's sister-in-law, Maud Winchester.
Wolfgang Bodison was working for Rob Reiner on the film as a location scout when Reiner decided he was perfect for the part of Lance Corporal Harold Dawson. Reiner said he looked like a Marine.
Steven Spielberg provided some of the dialog including "You can't HANDLE the truth!" David Kendall also modeled for the main character, Daniel A. Kaffee in some scenes. Kendall became famous much later when he defended President Bill Clinton's impeachment before the House and Senate.
The movie's line "You can't handle the truth!" was voted as the #92 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
[June 2008] Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama".
Sections of this film are used by the Air Force Judge Advocate training school at Maxwell AFB, AL, as training tools. In particular, the citing of Article 39A of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ("the witness has rights"), excusing the members (aka the jury) from viewing technical or procedural matters, and various other aspects of court-martial procedures. Particularly, the unrealistic nature of the court-martial itself is often lampooned by instructors.
Jack Nicholson was paid $5 million for ten days' work. Technically he worked an extra morning for free when Rob Reiner and crew didn't get all of his footage shot in time. The actor later admitted that it was one of the few times the money was well spent.
The Marine Corps drill team was portrayed by Texas A&M University's Corps of Cadets Fish Drill Team.
The role of Lt. Dan Kaffee was originally played on Broadway by Tom Hulce. He was later replaced by Timothy Busfield. The role of Col. Nathan Jessep was played by Stephen Lang, and also by Michael O'Hare. The only actor from the Broadway cast to reprise his role in the film was Joshua Malina, a close friend of Aaron Sorkin's, who plays Jack Nicholson's assistant in one scene.
Jack Nicholson only appears in 4 scenes in the entire film. The last of these is his famous "You can't handle the truth" courtroom meltdown which lasts for 21 minutes.
The cast and crew features veterans of several Stephen King adaptations. Jack Nicholson had appeared in The Shining (1980). Kiefer Sutherland appeared in Stand by Me (1986). Rob Reiner had directed both Stand by Me (1986) and Misery (1990), and had offered Nicholson the lead role in the latter film. The late J.T. Walsh appeared in Needful Things (1993) and had a small, uncredited cameo in "Misery" (1990).
Lt. Kaffee is based on David Iglesias, a real-life Naval Reservist and Judge Advocate General, who later gained fame as one of the US Attorneys (in his case, for New Mexico) fired by the George W. Bush administration shortly after the 2006 mid-term elections. Galloway is based on Deborah Sorkin, who worked with Iglesias on several cases, including the hazing case that inspired this play and film. She is also the sister of the author, Aaron Sorkin, and gave him the information he needed to dramatize the case.
Two "Misery" novels can be seen beside Danny's typewriter while he watches a ball game. Misery (1990) was also directed by Rob Reiner and a typewriter plays an integral role in the plot of that film.
In this film, Tom Cruise's character Daniel Kaffee, is a Lieutenant Junior Grade. This is one rank below the previous Navy officer whom he portrayed in Top Gun (1986), Lieutenant Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. Also, in this film, Demi Moore's character, Joanne Galloway, is a Lieutenant Commander. This is one rank higher than the next Navy officer whom she would portray, Lieutenant Jordan O'Neill, in the film G.I. Jane (1997).
Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Helen Hunt and Elizabeth Perkins read for the part of Joanne Galloway
First film role for Wolfgang Bodison, who portrays Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson.
One of the baseball games that Kaffee had on the TV at his place was between the Minnesota Twins and the (home) Baltimore Orioles. The game took place on 17 June 1991.
Kevin Pollak's mother is in the crowd watching the trial. According to Pollack, she hit on Jack Nicholson.
Jason Alexander was supposed to play Sam Weinberg, but when Seinfeld (1989) was unexpectedly renewed he was no longer available.
The single military ribbon worn by LTJG Daniel Kaffee is the National Defense Service Medal, which is awarded to any member of the United States military who served honorably during a designated time period of which a "national emergency" had been declared. The movie takes place during the time period August 2, 1990 to November 30, 1995 for service during the Gulf War.
The line: "You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!" was originally written in the script as "...you want me on that wall. You need me there..." but was changed by either Jack Nicholson or Rob Reiner during production.
Director of photography Robert Richardson insisted that they use anamorphic lenses in the film, with the courtroom scenes in mind. Richardson wanted to be able to pull focus from one protagonist to another in those scenes. Rob Reiner was initially unsure about using this technique but Richardson showed him that it could be very effective.
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Demi Moore reportedly agreed to negotiate her then-standard $3 million fee down to $2 million because she was competing with Jodie Foster and Linda Hamilton for the role, and also because she badly needed another hit after the box office failures of The Butcher's Wife (1991), Mortal Thoughts (1991) and Nothing But Trouble (1991).
Cuba Gooding Jr. makes a cameo appearance in this film being questioned by Tom Cruise. They both went on to appear together in Jerry Maguire (1996).
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Michelle Pfeiffer was the first choice for Lt. Galloway, but the studio wanted a tougher actress.
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The Defence Department refused to endorse the film. This meant that the filmmakers couldn't utilize any military installations during filming. Most of it was shot on a Culver City soundstage.
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Jack Nicholson told Rob Reiner he noticed that when he walked into the first rehearsal, the rest of the cast rushed to their seats. "Afterward I told him, 'Rob, it was so strange I felt like the fucking Lincoln Memorial,'" Nicholson told the Los Angeles Times. "I blushed actually."
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Tom Cruise was attracted to this challenging role because of the "tremendous writing." He travelled to New York to catch the Broadway play before signing on.
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According to Rob Reiner, Tom Cruise would always stay after rehearsals to work on perfecting his role.
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Jack Nicholson and Rob Reiner reunited to make The Bucket List (2007).
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Kevin Pollak called this the greatest experience he's ever had working on a film.
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Lt. Kaffee is watching a baseball game at his home after returning from Cuba. The sports announcer that can be heard on the TV is that of legendary San Diego Padres radio announcer Jerry Coleman, himself a former Marine officer and aviator who served in WWII and Korea. The ballgame shown was played on May 23, 1991 in Atlanta. The home run shown, hit by David Justice off Padre pitcher Steve Rosenberg, tied the game in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Padres won the game 11-10 in 12 innings (info from Baseball-Reference).
With the exception of a scene where Captain Ross' captains bars are worn correctly and Lt. Colonel Markinson's silver oak leaves in another scene, the insignia signifying the rank of the officers are not placed on their collars correctly.
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Cpl. Barnes played by Noah Wyle outranks Lcpl Dawson yet says he would not administer a "Code Red" because Dawson would not allow it. However, he may have only recently been promoted to Cpl, and Dawson could have outranked him previously. The film makes a point of noting that Lcpl Dawson's promotion to Cpl was delayed. It is also just as likely that Cpl. Barnes's testimony is meant to convey his respect (or fear) of Lcpl Dawson in spite of his rank.
Demi Moore was eight months pregnant when she was cast.
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Kevin Pollak said of Jack Nicholson, "He is the party. No one had more fun."
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Jason Laymon, a member of Texas A&M's Fish Drill Team, gave live performances of his rifle techniques to audiences at the premier showing in Bryan, Texas (near A&M).
When Lt. Cmdr Galloway is called into Capt West's office, there is a coffee cup on his desk. It is a cup from the USS Jouett CG-29. The ship has since been decommissioned and sunk as a target near the Philippine islands.
Film debut of Joshua Malina.
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The planes shown on the tarmac at Guantanamo Bay are F-14 Tomcats. The last squadron at Gitmo was VC-10, which actually flew A-4 Skyhawks. This squadron disbanded in 1993. The scene was filmed at NAS Pt.Mugu.(you can tell by the mountains in the background behind the hangar. The same hangar is used as "Mitchell Field" in the film "Pearl Harbor") Also the Island representing Cuba is actually OLF San Nicholas Island. Used by the Navy, OLF SNI is an outlying landing field also used as a radar station 80 miles due west of Oceanside CA. and is the smallest of what's known as "The channel islands" off the coast of southern California.
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After Galloway tells Kaffee and Weinberg she has the medical reports and Chinese food, she suggests they eat first. After a beat, Weinberg asks, "You got any Kung Pao chicken?" Rob Reiner thought it should have gotten a laugh. He claimed it never did.
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Rob Reiner's rules for a great courtroom drama: 1. A compelling court case. 2. Equally gripping protagonists and antagonists. 3. Great actors.
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Rob Reiner praised J.T. Walsh (Markinson) as a natural and understated actor. Reiner's goal is to have the whole cast be "as good as J.T. Walsh."
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Kevin Bacon praised Kiefer Sutherland for embracing the darkness of his character. Sutherland praised Tom Cruise for inspiring him with his acting.
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The name of the character portrayed by J.A. Preston, is Judge Julius Alexander Randolph. This might have been interpreted as a reference to the first two initials of the actor matching the first two initials for the character, but that would be incorrect. The character name of Judge Julius Alexander Randolph was the same in the Broadway play, which proceeded the production of the movie of the same name, and on Broadway, the actor portraying Judge Julius Alexander Randolph was Paul Butler, making the matching of the first two initials an interesting coincidence.
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Tom Cruise saw the Broadway play before signing on to the film. He also insisted on learning all of the "legalese" dialogue in the script.
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After seeing the stage play, Richard Dreyfuss wanted to play Colonel Jessop.
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Rob Reiner said that landing Jack Nicholson was like having Babe Ruth on his team.
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Christopher Guest as the character, Dr. Stone, makes his third appearance in a film directed by Rob Reiner. The other two are "This is Spinal Tap" and "The Princess Bride."
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One of a number of movies where actor Kevin Bacon has played a character who has been first named "Jack". In Frost/Nixon (2008) (Jack Brennan), in My Dog Skip (2000) (Jack Morris), in Apollo 13 (1995) (Jack Swigert), in A Few Good Men (1992) (Jack Ross), in Quicksilver (1986) (Jack Casey), and in Friday the 13th (1980), Jack.
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Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and Kevin Bacon have worked with director Barry Levinson. Cruise in Rain Man (1988), Moore in Disclosure (1994) and Bacon in Sleepers (1996).
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Demi Moore was paid $2 million for her role.
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Both Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise have worked with director Stanley Kubrick. Nicholson in The Shining (1980) and Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
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Both Tom Cruise and Demi Moore were born in 1962, although in the film the Kaffee character was described as being born in 1964.
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Tom Cruise appeared with Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (1988). Cruise appeared with Jack Nicholson in this film. Hoffman got the part of Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967) instead of Nicholson. According to The Joker's Wild: The Biography of Jack Nicholson by John Parker, when Nicholson heard that Hoffman was Braddock instead, he swore violently, went out and got drunk.
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Jack Nicholson starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), with Michael Douglas as one of the producers. Nicholson also starred in this film and Douglas starred in The American President (1995). Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay for both films and Rob Reiner directed both films.
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Both Demi Moore and Tom Cruise went on to co-star in different films with Robert Redford. Moore in Indecent Proposal (1993) and Cruise in Lions for Lambs (2007). Redford also directed the latter.
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Actor John M. Jackson, who portrayed Captain West, was later cast as Admiral Albert Jethro Chegwidden in the TV show J.A.G., which was described by co-creator/producer Donald Bellisario in his pitch as a potential television series to executives at NBC as a cross between "Top Gun" and "A Few Good Men."
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Maud Winchester, who plays Aunt Ginny, is director Rob Reiner's sister-in-law.
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This is Demi Moore's first time playing a role in the military.
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Rob Reiner said that he related to Kaffee because of his own famous father Carl Reiner.
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To get to the truth of his character, James Marshall played Downey with "youthful ignorance." Rob Reiner said of Marshall: "He has a James Dean naturalism to his work."
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Cameo 

Aaron Sorkin: the screenwriter appears as a lawyer in a bar talking to a woman about one of his cases.
Charles Erwin: The marching band in the beginning is The Capital Band and has a brief mention in the closing credits. The man in black is former Assistant Conductor and solo cornet for the President's Marine band.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In Aaron Sorkin's June 1991 draft, the film does not end with the iconic shot of Tom Cruise admiring the court room one last time. Instead, it ends with his character, Daniel Kaffee, asking Demi Moore's character, Jo Galloway, out on a date and she instructs him to wear matching socks - exactly what she told him to do before the first day of the trial.
Most television broadcasts of the film edit out the scene where Lt. Colonel Markinson puts the gun in his mouth and kills himself, due to the strong nature of the scene.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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