An Officer and a Gentleman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Although the image never dazzled, it appeared to reproduce the original footage well.
Sharpness was usually good. Some wide shots and interiors could be a little mushy, but that seemed to reflect the original photography. , I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed absent. The same went for source flaws; we got a natural layer of grain but no problems with specks, marks or other issues.
Colors looked adequate to good. Officer didn’t use a bright palette and the image reproduced the low-key hues with appropriate clarity. A few brighter shots looked nice, and the tones remained fine without the design situation.
Black levels appeared acceptably deep and dark, and shadow detail was fine. As discussed in the commentary, shots of Gossett could be a little thick – the combination of skin tone and the shadow of his hat made it tough to shoot him – but low-light clarity was usually pretty good. This was a quality representation of the source.
Instead of the film’s original monaural track, the Blu-ray went with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix. As a character-driven romantic drama, the expanded soundfield didn’t really need to do much, but it added decent ambience to the affair. For instance, during the scene in which Foley first meets the trainees, helicopters and jets provided a good sense of place in the rear speakers. The front channels also offered nice movement and delineation. We didn’t find anything showy from the effects, but they provided extra immersion.
Without question, music benefited the most from this new remix. The songs and score demonstrated good stereo imaging, and those elements sounded great, as the rock-driven pieces were lively and full. Bass response seemed good, and the music packed a nice punch.
In addition, speech was concise and crisp, with no edginess or intelligibility issues. At times the lines appeared a little thin and dated, but they were fine given their age. Effects appeared accurate and reasonably dynamic for their age. I liked this remix quite a lot, and I thought it earned a solid “B+”, mostly due to the excellent quality of the music.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2007 Special Collector’s Edition release? Audio was a bit peppier, though I felt disappointed that the dropped the original mono mix; as much as I liked the remix, the theatrical track should’ve appeared as well.
Visuals demonstrated the usual growth. The Blu-ray was cleaner, tighter and better defined than the DVD. I never realized that Foley had a scar on the back of his neck until now!
Most of the 2007 DVD’s extras repeat here, and we start with an audio commentary from director Taylor Hackford. In this running, screen-specific piece, the director has a lot to say and he maintains a consistently engaging presence. Hackford chats about the story’s 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 enjoy Hackford’s commentary for Officer more than I like the film itself. Hackford delves into a lot of details about the production and he’s not afraid to state his feelings; you know this’ll be a good track when he gently slams Michael Eisner about two minutes into the thing.
Hackford even alludes to problems experienced with Winger, and though he doesn’t dish any real dirt, the honesty level is very high when compared to the “I love everybody” world of most audio commentaries. How often do you hear a director refer to his leading lady as “a difficult human being”? Fans of the film will definitely enjoy the extra perspective he adds about Officer. It’s an excellent commentary that kept me consistently engaged.
Next we get a series of featurettes. An Officer and a Gentleman: 25 Years Later runs 28 minutes, five seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Hackford, writer/associate producer Douglas Day Stewart, and actors Richard Gere, Louis Gossett, Jr., David Caruso, Lisa Eilbacher, Tony Plana, Harold Sylvester, and David Keith. “Later” looks at the script and path to the screen, casting and performances, the movie’s depiction of sex, production pressures and Hackford’s work with the actors, a few scene specifics such as dealing with the iconic ending, and the flick’s reception.
Since Hackford tells us so much in his commentary, it becomes inevitable that repetition will occur here. Nonetheless, we get a fair amount of fresh information, largely due to the presence of the additional participants. They offer their own perspectives and help make “Later” an involving and interesting piece.
For the second featurette, we find the 12-minute and 20-second Return to Port Townsend. It shows Gossett as he leads us on a tour of the original movie locations. We also get comments from Gere, Hackford, Keith, Stewart, Sylvester, Port Townsend Film Festival director Peter Simpson, resident Barbara Bogart, extra Lowell Bogart, film fan Donna Corey, and former Port Townsend mayor Brent Shirley. We check out the locations today and learn a fair amount about them. This turns into another tight, informative program.
True Stories of Military Romance lasts seven minutes, 10 seconds. It features remarks from Stewart, US Navy Ensign Glenn Greenleaf and wife Wendy, author Sarah Smiley and naval aviator husband Dustin. I feared “Stories” would subject us to simple mush, but it actually offers a decent look at the ups and downs of military couples. That helps make it useful.
Next comes the nine-minute and 16-second The Music of An Officer and a Gentleman. It offers statements from Hackford, Paramount Music VP (1980-81) Joel Sill, composer’s son Jack Nitzsche Jr., music producer Stewart Levine and lyricist Will Jennings. We get notes about the score and the movie’s hit song. The featurette provides a good take on musical issues as it throws out a mix of nice elements, with a particular emphasis on “Up Where We Belong”. It’s too bad neither of the singers appears here, but I still like the program.
Called Gere and Gossett: Hand to Hand Combat, the final featurette fills three minutes, 18 seconds. We hear from Gossett and Gere as they discuss their fight scene and other aspects of the shoot. It’s too short to be terribly valuable, but it adds a few good bits.
A trailer finishes the set. The Blu-ray drops a photo gallery from the 2007 DVD, but it restores the trailer; that promo appeared on the original DVD from 2000.
I can’t say I love An Officer and a Gentleman, but after more than 30 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. The Blu-ray offers very good picture and audio along with a satisfying collection of bonus materials. This becomes a nice release for a generally positive movie.
To rate this film, visit the Special Edition review of AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN