An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

officer and a gentleman poster 1982 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Ending, Louis Gossett Jr.

Bit dated

Movie Info

Movie Name:  An Officer and a Gentleman

Studio:  Lorimar Film Entertainment/Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  July 28, 1982

MPAA Rating:  R

officer and a gentleman louis gossett jr richard gere

I got no where else to go!!!

Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) has been on the run all his life.  He was dumped on his father (Robert Loggia) after his mother’s suicide and grew up an outsider.  When he decides to join the Navy, Zack heads to the US Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate School in Washington.  Faced with the biggest challenge of his life, Zack finds himself butting heads with his commanding officer Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.) while befriending Sid Worley (David Keith).  In Port Townsend, Washington, there are woman that try to land officer candidates, and Zack begins dating a woman named Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger)…but finishing school might be impossible.

Directed by Taylor Hackford, An Officer and a Gentlemen is a romantic drama.  The film received positive reviews and was a box office hit.  The film received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Louis Gossett Jr.) and Best Original Song (“Up Where We Belong”) with nominations for Best Actress (Debra Winger), Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.

officer and a gentleman hat debra winger richard gere

Do I make the grade?

“Up Where We Belong” seemed to be everywhere when this movie was out…it was all over the radio.  It was years before I saw An Officer and a Gentleman, and it was a better movie than I expected.

While the movie was kind of marketed as a romance, it is like a grittier, dirtier version of Top Gun.  Zack’s life is a mess, and he’s been let down by everyone.  While Paula is into him, he continues to distrust her and doesn’t trust himself to open up.  He is often cruel to Paula despite her devotion and their relationship is contrasted to Lynette (played by Lisa Blount) and Sid which is more of a trainwreck.  Zack is a punk and the training and experience makes him into a better man…he earns the relationship and the loyalty that Paula gives him.

The cast is strong.  Richard Gere is kind of bland (intentionally) as the directionless Zack who doesn’t want to be his father.  Debra Winger was at the top at the time and plays a great and real feeling character in Paula.  Louis Gossett Jr. gets the easy standout role as the no-nonsense drill instructor.  He’s not as bombastic as Lee Ermey’s Full Metal Jacket instructor, but he feels like a predecessor to him.  Lisa Eibacher is underplayed as a woman candidate among a group of men while Lisa Blount is the rather cold Lynette who destroys the wishy-washy David Keith.

officer and a gentleman ending up where we belong debra winger richard gere

Love lifts us up where we belong!

The movie isn’t flashy.  Unlike a lot of military films that glorify the whole process, the film feels cold and emotionless.  The Washington of An Officer and a Gentlemen is dim and rainy.  It is a place you don’t want to be stuck…which is seen in Lynette and Paula.  The officers are a way out of their dull world.

An Officer and a Gentleman is a pretty decent romance that actually feels more like an anti-romance.  While it all ends up decent for the couple, the movie takes an even rockier path than most romances.  While the characters famously walk off into the sunset, it mimics movies like The Graduate where you are unsure of the characters’ future together…you hope they’ll make it, but you don’t really know.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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