Zack Mayo is a young man who has signed up for Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School. He is a Navy brat who has a bad attitude problem. Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley is there to train and evaluate him, and will clearly find Zack wanting. Zack meets Paula, a girl who has little beyond family, and must decide what it is he wants to do with his life.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in this film, and it remains her biggest commercial success to date, Debra Winger despises the movie, and has said she likes to deny that she ever had any involvement in it to begin with. See more »
In the marching scene just before the big fight, a lady candidate back row left is out of step. See more »
[whispered to sleeping father]
[flashback to Manila]
Hey, kid! Are you Zack?
I'm Byron; nice to meet you. Come on, let's get your bags, OK?
See more »
With special thanks to Art Kulman of the Washington State Dept. of Commerce & Economic Development, Fort Worden State Park, Gus Gustafson, Brent Shirley, and the people of Port Townsend, Washington. See more »
The players make this one something special. Without the fine performances from this great ensemble cast, An Officer And A Gentleman would be just another flag waving recruiting film from Hollywood.
Richard Gere along with such various and diverse people as David Keith, Tony Plana, and one female recruit Lisa Eilbacher are training to be Naval Pilots and they've got a Marine gunnery sergeant putting them through their paces during the training near Puget Sound. The sergeant is Lou Gossett, Jr. and he's looking for whatever weaknesses, academic, physical, professional or moral to wash them out of the program.
The film turns on the conflict between Gere and Gossett. Gere thinks he's something special and Gossett is going to prove to him he's not. Gere shows he does have the right stuff, take careful note of the scene on the confidence course with Lisa Eilbacher where he shows he's not just about himself.
Gossett casts so well in military parts, but this one set the standard for playing training sergeants. Many have done it before, but Gossett's is the best by far. His peers must have thought so because not only did he win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1982, but Gossett beat out two Hollywood veterans either James Mason for The Verdict or Robert Preston for Victor/Victoria should have been a sentimental favorite.
The moral failings in the trainees are brought out by town girls Debra Winger and Lisa Blount. Both are types that Gossett warns his trainees about, town girls who are on the make and want to trap a glamorous Navy Pilot to get out of their factory town. Not too much different from sorority girls at Ivy League schools looking to snare a husband. Winger and Blount go after Gere and Keith respectively. It ends in tragedy for one of them. Debra got a Best Actress nomination, but lost to Meryl Streep for Sophie's Choice.
I wish somehow David Keith had been given some recognition. For me his is the most touching performance in the whole film. He's doing the program out of some sense of instilled obligation, not really because he wants to. It's between this and the country kid prisoner part that Keith did so well in Brubaker as being his career roles.
An Officer And A Gentleman got a few more nominations in technical categories, but 1982 was the year of Gandhi which was the big winner. But it did receive a second Oscar for Best Song with Up Where We Belong which was a big old hit that year. You could hardly go anywhere without hearing Jennifer Warren's hit on somebody's radio. No contest in the voting in that category.
There have been a lot of films about military training, but the special performances by the whole cast make An Officer And A Gentleman a really outstanding film, the best in the genre.
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