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Gardens of Stone (1987)

R | | Drama, War, Romance | 8 May 1987 (USA)
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A Sergeant must deal with his desires to save the lives of young soldiers being sent to Viet Nam. Continuously denied the chance to teach the soldiers about his experiences, he settles for trying to help the son of an old Army buddy.


Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola)


Nicholas Proffitt (novel), Ronald Bass (screenplay)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Sgt. Clell Hazard
Anjelica Huston ... Samantha Davis
James Earl Jones ... 'Goody' Nelson
D.B. Sweeney ... Jackie Willow
Dean Stockwell ... Homer Thomas
Mary Stuart Masterson ... Rachel Feld
Dick Anthony Williams ... Slasher Williams
Lonette McKee ... Betty Rae
Sam Bottoms ... Lt. Webber
Elias Koteas ... Pete Deveber
Laurence Fishburne ... Sgt. Flanagan (as Larry Fishburne)
Casey Siemaszko ... Wildman
Peter Masterson ... Col. Feld
Carlin Glynn ... Mrs. Feld
Erik Holland Erik Holland ... Col. Godwin


In the late 60s, during the Vietnam War, the idealistic soldier Jackie Willow arrives at Fort Meyer expecting to go to the Academy and then to the Vietnam War. Jackie is the son of a veteran sergeant and soon he becomes the protégé of the former friends of his father, Sergeant Clell Hazard and Sergeant Major 'Goody' Nelson. Jackie is promoted and gets married with his childhood friend Rachel Feld, to recommend Jackie to the Academy. He is promoted to lieutenant and asks to go to the Vietnam, returning to the Arlington National Cemetery. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It was a dangerous time to be young. An impossible time to be a hero. See more »


Drama | War | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

8 May 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jardines de piedra See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The nickname of Regimental Sergeant Major Nelson (James Earl Jones) was "Goody". See more »


After the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps performs the "Troop Step" in the parade field ceremony scene, there are four bass drum beats before the Fife and Drum Corps steps off to "Yankee Doodle." In actuality there are only 2 bass drum beats before the Fife and Drum Corps Steps off from the Troop Step into "Yankee Doodle." See more »


Jackie Willow: [over the phone]
Jackie Willow: Hey, Sarge! I need another favor.
Clell Hazard: [shouts] Oh, great. Let's see... you got my money, you got my car. I guess now you need my dick to seal the deal!
See more »


Featured in At the Movies: Gardens of Stone/The River's Edge (1987) See more »


I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong
Performed by Marvin Gaye
Courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Exemplification of the phrase "We're Only Human"
8 July 2005 | by dataconflossmoorSee all my reviews

War in general, and particularly the Vietnam War, is an issue which required socially conscious and intellectual rumination...This was a story about the home front, and how the overzealous, and wet behind the ears soldier wanted to get involved...Hovering around the travesty of the TET Offensive, oblivion to what was actually happening on the other side of the ocean, made acts such as combat, and grenades carried by four year old Vietnamese girls, just a little more glamorous!! Military bases in the United States were desperately seeking some form of amelioration, and they wanted to be vindicated, as well as be spoon fed justification for their actions...This film explores all the diverse elements of patriotism,and makes the actions of the military just and rational!! This film allows the moviegoer to look at things through the eyes of the entire military rank and file involved in the Vietnam War!! Point of order!!, only a soldier knows what being a soldier is all about!! Much more inherently so than someone with a profession, particularly a man who is a soldier by nature..There are those who join, or those who were conscripted, but after sifting through all of them, there are men who possess a rudimentary element to their constitution whereby they are nothing but soldiers!!!...If their country made a mistake, they did not make a mistake for following orders..What their initial agenda was intended for was to uphold and defend the principles and policies of the United States of America!! The bulk of this film focuses on the development of a soldier, the anxious fortitude he possessed to serve his nation...While protesters balked at what they believed our government was doing was wrong, the military men and women were doing what they thought was right...THUS THEY SHOULD BE COMMENDED FOR IT!! If a soldier loses his life in combat, he is cast away in Arlington National Cemetery to THE GARDENS OF STONE...Bear in mind that a soldier has a different perspective as to whether or not a soldier's life was lost for no reason whatsoever!! The catastrophic outcome of the Vietnam War allows provision for several different conundrums to prevail: Do we engage in war with a blind patriotic demeanor?...Do we engage in war for National Cause? Or, do we engage in war for political agreement?...Suddenly devastation has a depraved dinner bell awakening, and, more and more Americans became affected, emotionally, physically, and psychologically!!! What shatters the mental stability of Americans touched by war is that they are hit by facts that are not complicated, but, very simple..We got involved in a war, we lost...Americans disagree.. There's turmoil...A young men wants to serve his country...he gets killed!!!...Underneath it all, all of the characters in the movie are hit with the bittersweet reality that they are only human and they make mistakes..Their patriotism to the cause of War by way of contributing to the military was something they thought was in the best interest of their nation!! Right and wrong are not black and white issues, and platitudes such as these should not be taken with a jaundice eye!! There are many Americans who believe a nation is always justified in declaring and/or fighting in a war!! There are other Americans who even believe that we should get involved in a war merely for purposes of strengthening our national resolve..."Gardens of Stone" is a film which brilliantly delegates tragedy, and appropriates anger..When a young soldier is killed in Vietnam in the line of duty, the reactions of the characters in the movie are not derivative, nor is there just an obligatory deference, rather, there is a heart felt empathy and sorrow for the loss of a picture book example of a soldier as well as a man!! This individual had a moral imperative to expedite national allegiance...If a soldier and a soldier's mother and father can have a grass roots recognition of the purpose for losing a productive life, then so too should the mainstream American public recognize it as well!!! The issue that the Vietnam War was a miserable tragic error, and the issue that the Military must execute their duties to defend the honor and integrity of her nation, are dichotomous!!! By no means is this an anti-war speech!! Tremendous acting performances make "Gardens of Stone" a movie worth watching...Especially if you are in the mood to just be a human being!! This documentary style movie is poignant, compelling, and articulates the pride with which this nation should have for her military branches!!...A definite winner!! It appears as though everything Francis Ford Coppola touches turns to solid gold!!

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