Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

An Officer and a Gentleman


If you thought Marine boot camp in Full Metal Jacket was tough, take a look at Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School. There are two main differences. The D.I. is not permitted to actually strike you (you are a potential gentleman), and you also have to study your ass off in a lot of subjects that never came up at Parris Island. A lot of this was familiar to me from Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.

Richard Gere is there because, as he says, he has no place else to go. He has lifted himself out of a life as a street urchin with a mostly absent Navy father in Manila. He is cynical and streetwise, and has to learn that the code of conduct for an officer is there for a reason, and he can’t game it like he has done all his life. Debra Winger is the trailer trash girl who goes to dances, hoping to land a handsome gent in a white suit. Louis Gossett Jr., is the hard-as-nails Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who has to whip these soft civilians into shape. He does it ruthlessly, brutally, doing his level best to break them. If he can break them, they clearly are not officer material.

It is very intense. I would last about ten minutes, if that. Gossett won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and it was well-deserved. The other two are quite good, but it is really his show, in the end.