Hard-nosed, hard-living Marine Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway (Clint Eastwood) clashes with his superiors and his ex-wife as he takes command of a spoiled recon platoon with a bad attitude.


Clint Eastwood
4,709 ( 753)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... Gunnery Sergent Thomas Highway
Marsha Mason ... Aggie
Everett McGill ... Major Malcolm Powers
Moses Gunn ... Staff Sgt. Webster
Eileen Heckart ... Little Mary
Bo Svenson ... Roy Jennings
Boyd Gaines ... Lieutenant Ring
Mario Van Peebles ... Corporal Stitch Jones
Arlen Dean Snyder ... Sergeant Major Choozoo
Vincent Irizarry ... Fragetti
Ramón Franco ... Aponte (as Ramon Franco)
Tom Villard ... Profile
Mike Gomez ... Quinones
Rodney Hill Rodney Hill ... Collins
Peter Koch ... 'Swede' Johanson


1983. Thomas Highway (Clint Eastwood) is a well-decorated career military man in the United States Marine Corps, he who has seen action in Korea and Vietnam. His current rank is Gunnery Sergeant. His experiences have led him to become an opinionated, no nonsense man, who is prone to bursts of violence, especially when he's drunk, if the situation does not suit him, regardless of the specifics or people involved. Because of these actions, he has spent his fair share of overnighters behind bars. Close to retirement, one of his last assignments, one he requested, is back at his old unit at Cherry Point, North Carolina, from where he was transferred for insubordination and conduct unbecoming. He is to train a reconnaissance platoon. His superior officer, the much younger and combat inexperienced Major Malcolm Powers (Everett McGill), sees Highway as a relic of an old-styled military. Highway's commanding officer, Lieutenant Ring (Boyd Gaines), the platoon leader, is also a younger man who... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


... the scars run deep.


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


In the original script, Sergeant Highway was a career Army officer. The U.S. Army read the script and refused to participate. The character was then changed to a Marine. The Marine Corps first cooperated, but upon viewing a first cut, quickly disowned this movie because of the foul language. The portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway, a Medal of Honor recipient, being disparaged by his Commanding Officer (Major Malcolm Powers), has been deemed controversial by enlisted and former U.S.M.C. members who consider this rude and insulting. See more »


Gunny Highway's Recon Platoon is commanded by a 2nd Lieutenant (LT Ring), which is the right level of command for a platoon in the Army or Marine Corps. However, 1st Platoon appears to be led by Major Powers throughout the movie vice a 1st/2nd LT. Army and Marine majors command at the battalion or company level, never at the platoon level. Another 2LT/1LT should have been in charge of 1st Platoon. Major Powers is the Ops officer for the battalion, but he has never been a combat officer. He is leading 1st platoon to make up for never being a grunt. This is not official capacity. See more »


Lieutenant M.R. Ring: All right, you devil dogs, let's take that fuckin' hill!
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Crazy Credits

The opening Warner Bros. logo is black and white. See more »

Alternate Versions

Theatrical version included a scene where Gunny Highway stands in front of one of the soldiers at the target practice, forcing him to shoot straight. Reportedly, this scene doesn't appear in the video release. See more »


References Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) See more »


Secret Love
Written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster
Performed by Jill Hollier
See more »

User Reviews

I know I shouldn't but...
7 July 2020 | by flynnflonSee all my reviews

I effing LOVE this movie. It's probably my greatest (movie) guilty pleasure.

In 1986, I was 10. I was way too interested in war/military based films/TV/books. (Fun-fact: never enrolled, and don't own any guns. I think i was drawn to the uniforms, haha)

I still remember the night I convinced my parents to rent this, at the video store. Believe it or not, this was the first "Clint" movie I ever watched, lol. I figured it would be like the Chuck Norris/Rambo movies, I had watched. Boy, was I wrong.

Even as a ten year old, I had a fondness for the script and the characters. And now, at 44, I'm still enjoying a rewatch, at least 1-3 times per year, haha

Of course, objectively, this is a unimpressive throwaway 80's flick. It's possibly the only movie to use the 'invasion' of Grenada, as a backdrop-or, it certainly was, at the time. It's overtly jingoistic; on par with the 'Red Dawn's', and 'Top Gun's' of the era. It's more of a comedy, compared to a military action movie.

And certainly, in 2020, the 80's humour comes across as dated-that said, I think it's disingenuous to get offended over how things used to be. Just like I think those still using casual homophobic humour today, are being lazy

Despite all this, Eastwood's passive-aggressive ornery character, has some of my favourite quotable lines. So too, does the Ayatollah of Rock'n'Rolla, 'Slick Jones'-played by the amazing Mario Van Peebles.

His Ying to Eastwood's Yang, never gets old. Nor does the rest of the ensemble cast. Everyone from Eastwood's former flame, to his ultra aggressive superior, is wonderfully cast.

Hard to imagine someone coming across this movie, in today's era-but this is a truly a hidden gem.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

5 December 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heartbreak Ridge See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,100,840, 7 December 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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