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An Officer and a Gentleman

An Officer and a Gentleman
File:An Officer and a Gentleman film poster.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Produced by Martin Elfand
Douglas Day Stewart
Written by Douglas Day Stewart
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography Donald E. Thorin
Edited by Peter Zinner
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • July 28, 1982 (1982-07-28)
Running time
122 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[1]
Box office $129.7 million[2]

An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American drama film that tells the story of a U.S. Navy aviation officer candidate who comes into conflict with the Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who is the drill instructor training him and his class at Aviation Officer Candidate School. It was written by Douglas Day Stewart and directed by Taylor Hackford. It starred Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett, Jr., who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, and was produced by Lorimar Productions for Paramount Pictures. The film's title uses an old expression from the British Royal Navy and subsequently from the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, as being charged with "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman" (from 1860). An Officer and a Gentleman was commercially released in the U.S. on July 28, 1982.


Zachary "Zack" Mayo (Richard Gere) has been living in the Philippines with his father Byron (Robert Loggia), an alcoholic U.S. Navy chief boatswain's mate. Byron has raised him since early adolescence, after Zack's mother committed suicide. Hoping to improve his life, Zack signs up for the Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) to become a Navy pilot.

Zack and his fellow AOCs are "welcomed" by their head drill instructor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.). Foley makes it clear that the program is designed to eliminate officer candidates who are not suitable to earn their "prize"; a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy and flight training worth over $1,000,000. Foley warns the male candidates about the "Puget Sound Debs." The "Debs" are young women in the area who Foley says dream of marrying a naval aviator to escape their dull, local lives. They scout the regiment for officer candidates, and will feign pregnancy or actually become pregnant to trap them.

Zack becomes friends with fellow candidate Sid Worley (David Keith) and female candidate Casey Seeger (Lisa Eilbacher). Zack and Sid meet two local girls – factory workers – at a Navy-hosted dance. Zack begins a romantic relationship with Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger) and Sid with Lynette Pomeroy (Lisa Blount).

Foley rides Zack mercilessly, believing he lacks motivation and is not a team player. When Zack's side business of selling pre-shined shoes and belt buckles is discovered, Foley hazes him for a weekend in an attempt to make him DOR ("Drop on Request", a Navy term for requesting termination of training[3]), but Zack refuses to give in. Foley tells Zack he will simply have him thrown out, and Zack finally breaks down. He tells Foley he has nowhere else to go and has nothing else in his life. Satisfied Zack has come to a crucial self-realization, Foley lets up on him.

Zack and Paula spend the next weekend together and she takes him home for dinner to meet her family. Her stepfather behaves strangely, and when Zack asks why, she shows him an old picture of her real father. He was an AOC who had an affair with her mother, but deserted her following his commissioning. He refused to marry her when she became pregnant with Paula.

Zack is close to breaking the record time for negotiating the obstacle course, but Seeger faces disqualification when she can't negotiate the 12-foot-high wall. Zack abandons his attempt to break the course record in order to coach Seeger over the wall, and she makes it.

Zack attends dinner with Sid and his parents and learns that Sid has a long-time girlfriend back home. Sid plans to marry her after he receives his commission. Meanwhile, Lynette has been dropping hints to Sid that she may be pregnant. Sid agonizes over this possibility, especially when Lynette tells him she won't have an abortion. During a high-altitude simulation in a pressure chamber, Sid has a severe anxiety attack. He realizes he joined up out of a sense of obligation to his family and DORs. He leaves the base without saying goodbye, so Zack and Paula go out to look for him.

Sid goes to Lynette's house and proposes marriage. She is elated until he tells her he DORed, and she won't be marrying a navy pilot after all. Disgusted, she turns him down and confesses she wasn't pregnant. She says she thought he understood. She wants to marry an aviator, and live an exciting life overseas. She berates him for dropping out and gives back the engagement ring Sid bought her. Crushed, Sid goes to the motel where he and Lynette spent his free weekends, and asks for their old room.

Zack and Paula arrive shortly after Sid leaves and ask about Sid's whereabouts. Zack curses Lynette for trying to trick Sid, and he and Paula rush off to search for him. Zack finds Sid hanging from the shower head in his motel room. Paula tries to comfort Zack, but he rejects her and heads back to base with the intent to DOR himself. Foley won't let him go so close to graduation, and orders Zack into an unofficial martial arts bout. Although Zack dominates for most of the fight, Foley wins by kicking Zack in the groin. Foley tells him he can quit now if he wants to.

Zack shows up for graduation and is sworn into the Navy with his class. Following naval tradition, he receives his first salute from Foley in exchange for a US silver dollar. While tradition calls for the drill instructor to place the coin in his left shirt pocket, Foley places the coin in his right pocket, acknowledging that Zack was a special candidate.

Zack, now Ensign Mayo with orders to flight training, seeks out Paula at the factory where she works. He picks her up and walks out with her in his arms to the applause of her co-workers, including Lynette.




The film was shot in late 1981 on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, at Port Townsend and Fort Worden. The U.S. Navy did not permit filming at NAS Pensacola in western Florida, the actual site of the Aviation Officer Candidate School.[4] Port Townsend stood in for an actual Naval Air Station in the Puget Sound area, NAS Whidbey Island. However, that installation, which is still an operating air station today, was and is a "fleet" base for operational combat aircraft and squadrons under the cognizance of Naval Air Force Pacific, not a Naval Air Training Command installation.

A real motel room, in The Tides Inn located in Port Townsend, was used for the film. Today, there is a plaque outside the room commemorating this (although the room has been extensively refurbished in the interim). Some early scenes of the film were filmed in Bremerton, with ships of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in the background.

The "Dilbert Dunker" scenes were filmed in the swimming pool at what is now Mountain View Elementary School (Mountain View Middle School during filming). According to the director's commentary on the DVD, the dunking machine was constructed specifically for the film and was an exact duplicate of the actual one used by the Navy. As of 2010, Mountain View Elementary is closed and is now home to the Mountain View Commons, which holds the police station, food bank and the YMCA, the latter of which holds the pool.

The filming location of Paula Pokrifiki's house was 1003 Tremont in Port Townsend. As of 2009, the house is shrouded by a large hedge and the front porch has been remodeled. The neighboring homes and landscape look identical to their appearance in the film, including the 'crooked oak tree' across the street from the Pokrifiki home. This oak tree is visible in the scene near the end of the film in which Richard Gere returns to the home to request Paula's help in finding his friend Sid. In the film, the plot has Paula living a ferry ride away from the naval base. In reality, Paula's home is located approximately 8 blocks from Fort Worden.

Lynette Pomeroy's house was located on Mill Road, just west of the main entrance of the Port Townsend Paper Corp. mill. The house no longer exists, but the concrete driveway pad is still visible.

The interior of the USO building at Fort Worden State Park was used for the reception scene near the beginning of the film.

File:Fort Worden Battery Kinzie pano 01.jpg
Battery Kinzie, scene of "I got nowhere else to go!"

The concrete structure used during the famous Richard Gere line "I got nowhere else to go!" is the Battery Kinzie located at Fort Worden State Park. The scene was filmed on the southwest corner of the upper level of the battery. The 'obstacle course' was constructed specifically for the film and was located in the grassy areas just south and southeast of Battery Kinzie.

The decompression chamber was one of the only sets constructed for the film and as of 2013, it is still intact in the basement of building number 225 of the Fort Worden State Park. It can be seen through the windows of the building's basement.

Building 204 of Fort Worden State Park was used as the dormitory and its porch was used for the film's closing 'silver dollar' scene.

The blimp hangar used for the famous fight scene between Louis Gossett Jr. and Richard Gere is located at Fort Worden State Park and as of 2013 is still intact, but has been converted into a 1200 seat performing arts center called the McCurdy Pavilion.

The filming location for the exterior of 'TJ's Restaurant' is located at the Point Hudson marina in Port Townsend. The space is now occupied by a company that makes sails. the fictional "TJ's" is an homage to the Trader Jon's bar in Pensacola, Florida, which was a famous Naval Aviator hangout until it closed in November 2003. For years, it was traditional for graduating Aviation Officer Candidate School classes to celebrate their commissioning at "Trader's".


Originally, country music singer and occasional actor John Denver was signed to play Zack Mayo. But a casting process eventually involved Jeff Bridges, Christopher Reeve, and Richard Gere.[citation needed] Gere eventually beat all the other actors for the part. John Travolta turned down the role as he did with American Gigolo (another Richard Gere hit).[citation needed]

The role of Paula was originally given to Sigourney Weaver, then to Anjelica Huston and later to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who dropped out to do Fast Times at Ridgemont High instead. Eventually, Debra Winger replaced Leigh for the role of Paula. Rebecca De Mornay, Meg Ryan, and Geena Davis (all virtually unknowns at the time) auditioned for the role of Paula.[citation needed]

The role of Gunnery Sergeant Foley was difficult to cast. Jack Nicholson turned down the part, and no one else the producers were interested in was available. Screenwriter Stewart then visited the Pensacola area to do research and found out many of the top drill instructors there were African-American, which inspired them to cast Gossett in the role.[citation needed] Taylor Hackford kept Gossett in separate living quarters from the other actors during production so Gossett could intimidate them more during his scenes as a drill instructor.[5] In addition, Gossett was advised by US Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Buck Welscher[5] and Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey.[citation needed] (Foley's "steers and queers" line would be re-used by Ermey on-screen in Full Metal Jacket.)

Lisa Eilbacher, who played Officer Candidate Casey Seeger, is an avid bodybuilder/fitness buff and said that pretending to be out of shape for the character was the most difficult part about acting in the film.[citation needed]


Richard Gere rides a 750cc T140E Triumph Bonneville introduced halfway in the 1978 selling season. Two T140E Bonnevilles were supplied by Dewey's Cycle Shop in Seattle. One had Receipt no.16787 dated April 8, 1981, as sold to Paramount Pictures. In the United Kingdom, Paramount successfully linked with Triumph Motorcycles (Meriden) Ltd to do a mutual promotion. Triumph's then-chairman, John Rosamond, in his book Save The Triumph Bonneville ! (Veloce 2009), states it was agreed cinemas showing the film would be promoted at their local Triumph dealer and T140E Triumph Bonnevilles supplied by the dealer would be displayed in the cinema's foyers.


Richard Gere balked at shooting the ending of the film, in which Zack arrives at Paula's factory wearing his naval dress whites and carries her off the factory floor. Gere thought the ending would not work because it was too sentimental. Director Taylor Hackford agreed with Gere until, during a rehearsal, the extras playing the workers began to cheer and cry. When Gere saw the scene later, with the music underneath it ("Up Where We Belong") at the right tempo, he said it gave him chills. Gere is now convinced Hackford made the right decision.[6] Screenwriter Michael Hauge, in his book Writing Screenplays That Sell, echoed this opinion: "I don't believe that those who criticized this Cinderella-style ending were paying very close attention to who exactly is rescuing whom."


Two versions of the film exist. The original, uncensored R-rated cut and an edited for broadcast television cut (which first aired on NBC in 1986) are nearly identical. The main difference is that the nudity and a majority of the foul language is edited out when the film airs on regular television. However, the group marching song near the beginning of the film and Mayo's solo marching song are not voiceover edits; they are reshoots of those scenes for television. Also, the sex scene between Mayo and Paula is cut in half, and the scene where Mayo finds Sid's naked body is also edited.


Box office

An Officer and a Gentleman was an enormous box office success and went on to become the third highest grossing film of 1982, after E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and Tootsie.[7] It grossed $3,304,679 in its opening weekend[8] and $129,795,554 overall at the domestic box office.[9] The figure would adjust to over $300 million in 2014.


An Officer and a Gentleman was well received by critics and is widely considered one of the best films of 1982.[10][11][12] The film holds an 81% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews with the consensus: "Old-fashioned without sacrificing its characters to simplicity, An Officer and a Gentleman successfully walks the fine line between sweeping romance and melodrama".[13] It received rave reviews from critics, most notably from Roger Ebert who gave it four stars. Ebert described An Officer and a Gentleman as "a wonderful movie precisely because it's so willing to deal with matters of the takes chances, takes the time to know and develop its characters, and by the time this movie's wonderful last scene comes along, we know exactly what's happening, and why, and it makes us very happy."[14]

Rex Reed gave a glowing review where he commented: "This movie will make you feel ten feet tall!" The British film critic Mark Kermode, an admirer of Taylor Hackford observed, "It's a much tougher film than people remember it being; it's not a romantic movie, it's actually a movie about blue-collar, down-trodden people."

The film also received recognition from the American Film Institute. It is ranked number 29 on AFI's 100 Years…100 Passions, a list of America's greatest love stories.[15] An Officer and a Gentleman was also named the 68th most inspiring movie on 100 Years…100 Cheers.[16] The song "Up Where We Belong" was also ranked number 75 on AFI's 100 Years…100 Songs.[17]


Film Award wins:

  • BAFTA Film Award for Best Original Song – "Up Where We Belong", Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie (music), Will Jennings (lyrics)

Academy Award nominations:

Other Award wins:


Song Lyrics by Performed by
"Up Where We Belong" Will Jennings Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
"Treat Me Right" D. Lubahn and Pat Benatar Pat Benatar
"Hungry for Your Love" Van Morrison Van Morrison
"Be Real" D. Sahm Sir Douglas Quintet
"Tush" B. Gibbons, D. Hill and F. Beard ZZ Top
"Tunnel of Love" M. Knopfler Dire Straits
"Feelings" Morris Albert Morris Albert
"Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown
"Anchors Aweigh" Charles A. Zimmerman, George D. Lottman and Alfred Hart Miles
"Moon River" Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
"Big Money Dollars" John Thomas Lenox
"Gamelan Gong: Barong Dance" David Lewiston
"The Plains of Mindanao" Bayanihan 7
"Galan Kangin" Gong Kebyar, Sebatu


  • Takarazuka Revue adapted the movie as a musical in 2010 in Japan (Takarazuka Grand Theater; Tokyo Takarazuka Theater). The production was performed by Star Troupe and the cast included Reon Yuzuki as Zack Mayo, Nene Yumesaki as Paula Pokrifki and Kaname Ouki as Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 198, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. ^ "Box Office Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ CNATRAINST 1542.98C: Drop on Request Retrieved 2012-09-18
  4. ^ "Fun Trivia". 
  5. ^ a b Klemesrud, Judy (20 August 1982). "The making of a new D.I.: Director separated Gossett, Gere to sustain intensity". The Lakeland Register. pp. 1–2C. 
  6. ^ "Gere begged director not to shoot romantic scene". PR Inside. 2007-04-29. 
  7. ^ "1982 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Box Office and Business Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Box Office Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Box Office Archived from the original on 20 June 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Greatest Films of 1982". AMC Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  11. ^ "The Best Movies of 1982 by Rank". Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Most Popular Feature Films Released in 1982". Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  13. ^ "An Officer and a Gentleman Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  14. ^ "An Officer and a Gentleman Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  15. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions" (PDF). Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  16. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers" (PDF). Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  17. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs" (PDF). Retrieved June 20, 2010. 
  18. ^ "1982 Grammy Award Winners". Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Takarazuka". 

External links