An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  • Time: 124 min
  • Genre: Drama | Romance
  • Director: Taylor Hackford
  • Cast: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Louis Gossett Jr., David Keith


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. GySgt 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.

One comment

  • Perhaps not brilliant, but this justifiably popular military romance should be memorable if, for no other reason, than its wonderful inspiring Academy Award winning song, “Up Where We Belong”.

    The movie tells the tale of Zack Mayo, an officer candidate at a Navy flight school training aviators. It chronicles his story, mainly through his interactions with his drill sergeant (Sgt. Foley), his buddy (Seeger), and especially his love interest, a local girl named Paula. The factory girls from the small nearby town have set their caps on bagging (sometimes even entrapping, if necessary) husbands from among the class of future officers, in order to improve their social / financial situation. Needless to say, the would be officers, by contrast, are generally seeking one night stands with said girls.

    Really, the film revolves around Zack and his character development. Certainly as the movie begins, while he may indeed be an officer candidate, clearly he is no gentleman. While not totally despicable, the arrogant candidate isn’t a particularly sympathetic character either, perhaps due in part to his troubled family history. His mother committed suicide when he was young and his father, also a military man, essentially ignored him. Thus Zack is training to become a Navy pilot in order to give his life some direction. Richard Gere is utterly is convincing in the role; I cannot imagine any other actor playing it.

    Louis Gossett Jr. is brilliant as the hard nosed, tough as nails, no nonsense drill sergeant, Foley, who must try to make an officer out of this candidate who, in his opinion, is clearly lacking. There are some dramatic, moving, and emotional scenes between him and Zack. Gossett deserved his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

    I personally really liked Zack’s buddy, Casey Seeger, and found his military story and his romance with another factory girl an interesting plot line, especially for comparison with Zack and Paula.

    However, all that being said, for me this movie is made by the lovely Debra Winger. She brings a real integrity and vulnerability to the role of the working class Paula, a girl with few opportunities and prospects, head over heels in love with a man she knows will almost certainly break her heart. My respect for this marvelous actress went up a further notch when I read from several other commentators that she did not want to do the nude love scene and that the tears falling down her face during this scene were in fact tears of humiliation and not acting for the role.

    I don’t know much of the military and this picture may not be accurate (probably isn’t!), but I found it an interesting glimpse into cadet life, training, expectations, and so on.

    As for the ending, I won’t give it away here but it’s one of the legends of the cinematic world. A great movie for members of both sexes. As another reviewer cleverly phrased it, grab the popcorn and enjoy.

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