Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith, Robert Loggia, Lisa Blount, Lisa Eilbacher, Louis Gossett Jr., David Caruso
Douglas Day Stewart
It will lift you up where you belong.
Once in a great while a movie comes along that truly grips and uplifts its audiences. Such a movie is An Officer And A Gentleman, a timeless tale of romance, friendship and growth.
Loner Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) enters Officer Candidate School to become a Navy pilot and in thirteen torturous weeks he learns the importance of discipline, love and friendship. Louis Gossett, Jr. brilliantly plays the tough drill instructor who teaches Zack that no man can make it alone. Despite Gossett's warnings about local girls who get pregnant to catch themselves pilot husbands, Zack eventually learns to love one (Debra Winger). David Keith is memorable as one of Zack's fellow candidates.
An Officer And A Gentleman is a rich and satisfying film that gets richer with repeated viewings.
$3.304 million on 346 screens.
Runtime: 124 min.
Release Date: 12/12/2000
• Audio Commentary with Director Taylor Hackford
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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
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An Officer And A Gentleman (1982)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 13, 2007)
Back when An Officer and a Gentleman premiered in 1982, Richard Gere remained a largely unknown commodity as an actor. His most prominent prior role came in 1980ís American Gigolo. The movie generated a lot of press - much of which occurred because then-regarded-as-sexy John Travolta had backed out of it - but didnít do too much business.
Officer made Gere a certified star, and at that time, we knew little else about him. Before Cindy, before the Dalai Lama, before the gerbil - we just saw a handsome and decently talented young actor and that was that.
Gere wasnít the only one to benefit from the success of Officer. Debra Winger emerged from virtually nowhere to become a leading actress. Her biggest role prior to Officer came in 1980ís Urban Cowboy, a picture that starred - holy Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon! - John Travolta. In fact, I believe Travolta ditched Gigolo so he could appear in Cowboy.
Actually, Officer remains Wingerís biggest success unless you count the voice work she did for ET the Extraterrestrial. There seems to be something of an Officer curse because all of its actors experienced hard times in the ensuing years. Until 2002ís Chicago, Gere didnít make another successful film that didnít star Julia Roberts, and after 1983ís Oscar-winning Terms of Endearment, Winger hasnít made a hit movie period.
Louis Gossett Jr. took home an Academy Award for his role as tough Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley. For this his reward was a lifetime of Iron Eagle movies. David Keith has made a series of mostly forgettable and little-known films, though at least he grabbed a decent role in modest hit U-571. Even the bit actors in Officer were doomed. David Caruso appeared in the picture, and he went on to become a TV star on NYPD Blue. However, once he left that show to return to movies, he vanished into thin air until he came back to the small screen.
Director Taylor Hackford enjoyed more success after Officer, though it remains probably the biggest hit on his rťsumť. Other films like The Devilís Advocate and Against All Odds at least managed to stir up some business and attention, unlike the clunkers that make up most of the actorsí credits. However, Hackford did well with his last movie, 2004ís Ray
In any case, they all managed one fairly shining moment in 1982 with Officer. The film relates the tale of Zack Mayo (Gere), an officer candidate in the Navy who wants to fly jets. Heís the son of a Navy lifer who didnít exactly do the best job raising the boy; Zack spent a lot of time around Filipino whorehouses and became quite jaded from what he saw.
As such, Mayo enters Officer Candidate School (OCS) with a pretty cynical and self-centered outlook on life. Essentially, the movie watches him as he grows from hardened jerk to semi-open and warm person and inevitably learns to work with and value the company of others. This occurs through the relationships he builds on base - mainly with fellow candidate Sid (Keith) and hard-ass drill instructor Foley (Gossett) - plus the romance he develops with townie Paula (Winger).
To say that Officer is anything other than predictable and occasionally sickly-sweet would be a lie. However, it does work fairly effectively. Officer manages to be one of those rare films that deftly treads the line between guy movie and ďchick flickĒ. The military setting and training camp ordeals make it compelling and manly enough for men, while the romantic aspect and the eye-candy that was Gere offer material of interest for women.
Director Taylor Hackford balances the two sides pretty well. Ultimately, the romantic portions dominate the movie, but I may feel that way just because I didnít like them as much; hey, Iím a guy, and the mushy stuff bored me. Nonetheless, the story flips cleanly between the lovey-dovey and the competitive, and I thought the mix worked nicely.
As a whole, the film is well acted. Gere always has played self-contained, closed-off characters nicely - Pretty Womanís Edward Lewis is just a nicer riff on Mayo, really - and he also can accurately transmit the personís growth; Zackís changes never felt forced or artificial. I donít know if Gossett deserved an Oscar for his role as Foley, but he definitely was effective in the part. He makes the instructor a force with which to be reckoned, but we also can see the human side in him as appropriate.
Some of An Officer and a Gentleman hasnít aged well, especially the cheesy score that echoes hit song ďUp Where We BelongĒ. However, it still makes for a fairly involving and entertaining film. At the very least itís a good ďdate nightĒ compromise.
The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus C+
An Officer and a Gentleman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the film has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although it remained watchable, Officer wasnít a great transfer.
Sharpness appeared reasonably good. Much of the movie was acceptably clear and defined, but a vaguely fuzzy tone affected a few scenes. This wasnít a significant issue, though, as the majority of the movie showed nice delineation. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, but some edge haloes appeared through the flick.
Print flaws seemed modest for the most part. I saw occasional grit, specks and some nicks. I witnessed no signs of major defects like large scratches, hairs, blotches, or tears, but the smaller ones appeared fairly consistently.
Colors looked adequate. Officer didnít use a bright palette and the image reproduced the low-key hues with decent clarity. Black levels appeared acceptably deep and dark, but shadow detail could come across as weak, especially when we saw Foley. During his commentary, director Taylor Hackford discussed the challenges involved in lighting Gossett, and I guess he never worked these out satisfactorily. When Gossett or any other African-American actor appeared, they seemed very hard to discern; the lighting just didnít get to their faces and I had trouble making out these participants. Overall, Officer was lackluster visually but not bad.
Similar thoughts greeted the movieís monaural soundtrack. Speech was a little thin but the lines remained intelligible and lacked much edginess. Effects were similarly bland but acceptably realistic, and the music came across as acceptable. There wasnít a lot of life to these elements, but they seemed passable in terms of range. Some light hiss cropped up during a few musical cues. No serious flaws marred the mix, but the track was too mediocre to earn anything over a ďCĒ.
In addition to the flickís original theatrical trailer, we find a running, screen-specific audio commentary from director Taylor Hackford. The director has a lot to say and he maintains a consistently engaging presence. Hackford chats about the storyís path to the screen and his involvement in its, cast and characters, performances and working with the actors, locations and sets, music, editing, and a mix of other production topics.
Frankly, I enjoyed his commentary for Officer more than I liked the film itself. Hackford delves into a lot of details about the production and heís not afraid to state his feelings; you know thisíll be a good track when he gently slams Michael Eisner about two minutes into the thing. He even alludes to problems experienced with Winger, and though he doesnít dish any real dirt, the honesty level is very high when compared to the ďI love everybodyĒ world of most audio commentaries. How often do you hear a director refer to his leading lady as ďa difficult human beingĒ? Fans of the film will definitely enjoy the extra perspective he adds about Officer; itís an excellent commentary that kept me consistently engaged.
I wasnít quite that fond of An Officer and a Gentleman itself, but after 25 years, it remains a pretty solid piece of entertainment. The movie combines romance with the rigors of officer training school nicely and should appeal to a wide audience. Unfortunately, the DVD itself is pretty lackluster. The picture and audio are mediocre. The disc offers only one significant extra, but that piece is quite good. This is a passable DVD for a decent movie.
To rate this film visit the Special Collector's Edition review of AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN