Gardens of Stone

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Gardens of Stone
Gardens of stone.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Michael I. Levy
Screenplay by Ronald Bass
Based on Gardens of Stone by Nicholas Proffitt
Starring James Caan
Anjelica Huston
James Earl Jones
D. B. Sweeney
Dean Stockwell
Mary Stuart Masterson
Music by Carmine Coppola
Cinematography Jordan Cronenweth
Edited by Barry Malkin
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • May 8, 1987 (1987-05-08)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million
Box office $15,262,050

Gardens of Stone is a 1987 American drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel of the same title by Nicholas Proffitt. It stars James Caan, Anjelica Huston, James Earl Jones and D. B. Sweeney.


A hardened Korean and Vietnam War veteran, Sergeant Clell Hazard (James Caan) would rather be an instructor at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, to train soldiers for Vietnam but instead he is assigned by the Army to the 1st battalion 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Virginia.

Hazard is divorced and hasn't seen his son in years due to the bitter divorce. After Willow's father, who is a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant and a former Korean War comrade in arms of Hazard's as well Sgt. Major Nelson's, dies of a heart attack, Hazard comes to look upon Willow as a "son." He tries to teach Willow all he can about soldiering and surviving in combat.

Willow in turn tries to teach his platoon mate Private Albert Wildman, a chronic screw-up, how to be a soldier. Wildman is later ordered to Vietnam, where he distinguishes himself as a heroic soldier and effective combat infantryman. He returns from Vietnam promoted to the rank of Sergeant and is a recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism in combat. Sgt. Flanagan (Larry Fishburne), a fellow member of Sgt. Hazard's platoon, receives his orders for Vietnam at the same time.

As he walks away, he receives a customary salute due to all MOH recipients from his old lieutenant, in the unusual situation of an officer saluting an enlisted person. Wildman smarts off at by asking "what the fuck are you looking at?", showing he had finally become an assertive soldier.

The film ends with military honors being rendered at Willow's graveside at Arlington and Hazard speaking to the mourners prior to the firing of the rifle salute and the playing of "Taps".

Main cast[edit]

Actor Role
James Caan Sergeant First Class Clell Hazard, Platoon Sergeant
Anjelica Huston Samantha Davis
James Earl Jones Sgt. Major "Goody" Nelson, Regimental Sergeant Major
D. B. Sweeney Specialist/Sergeant/2LT Jack "Jackie" Willow, Honor Guardsman
Dean Stockwell Captain Homer Thomas, Sgt. Hazard's Company Commander
Mary Stuart Masterson Rachel Feld
Dick Anthony Williams First Sergeant R. "Slasher" Williams, Company First "Top" Sergeant
Lonette McKee Betty Rae, Sgt. Major Nelson's wife
Sam Bottoms 1LT Lieutenant Webber, Sgt. Hazard's Platoon Leader
Elias Koteas Specialist Pete Deveber, Company Clerk
Larry Fishburne Sergeant Flanagan, Jack Willow's Squad Leader
Casey Siemaszko Sergeant Albert Wildman, Jack's friend in the platoon
Peter Masterson Colonel Feld
Carlin Glynn Mrs. Feld


The film earned mixed reviews from critics, as it currently holds a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 14 reviews. The film was entered into the 15th Moscow International Film Festival.[1]

Box office[edit]

The movie had a limited release (612 theaters) and end up grossing $5,262,047. According to Box Office Mojo the movie also made $1,645,588 on its opening weekend. Thus, failing at the box office.

Replacement of Griffin O'Neal[edit]

Griffin O'Neal was initially cast in Gardens of Stone to play Pete Deveber, but was replaced by Elias Koteas after his involvement in the accidental speedboating death of Coppola's eldest son, Gian-Carlo Coppola, in May 1986.[2]


  1. ^ "15th Moscow International Film Festival (1987)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  2. ^ Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, 0-060-75102-9 p. 158

External links[edit]