The General's Daughter (film)
|The General's Daughter|
The General's Daughter Film poster
|Directed by||Simon West|
|Produced by||Mace Neufeld|
|Written by||Christopher Bertolini
Clarence Williams III
and James Woods
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Cinematography||Peter Menzies Jr.|
|Editing by||Glen Scantlebury|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||18 June 1999 (US Theatres)
14 December 1999 (DVD)
|Running time||116 minutes|
The General's Daughter is a 1999 murder mystery film directed by Simon West starring John Travolta. The plot concerns the mysterious death of the daughter of a prominent general. The movie is based on the 1992 novel by the same name written by Nelson DeMille. The film grossed $22 million in its opening weekend and $102 million in its total domestic run.
The plot of the movie is significantly different from that of the novel although the outcome is the same. For instance, in the novel Brenner never meets Elizabeth Campbell. The first time he sees her is at the murder scene.
Chief Warrant Officer Four Paul Brenner (John Travolta), a Vietnam Veteran of the 196th LIB, is in Georgia masquerading as First Sergeant Frank White at a local army base, to broker an illegal arms trade with a self-proclaimed freedom fighter. Part of the disguise of his character is speaking with a strong Southern accent. While on the base, his car gets a flat tire. He is on the side of the road trying to remove the wheel nuts with a small pair of pliers and not having much success when a pretty young officer arrives and helps him change the spare with her cross brace (lug wrench). The officer is Captain Elizabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson), the base commanding general's daughter and army captain in psychological operations. The next day Brenner calls in to see her with a basket full of chocolates and bath soaps as a thank you to her for her help. Both times he is in contact with her he is keeping up the pretence with the Southern drawl. Elisabeth is at first warm to him but after a few minutes of conversation she becomes cool and distant, saying she has a lot of work to get through. The next evening, she is found murdered. Brenner and another warrant officer, Sara Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe) are brought in to investigate, as both are part of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. At the scene, the base Provost Marshal, Colonel William Kent (Timothy Hutton) and several of his military police have secured the area. Captain Campbell's nude body has been staked down with tent poles, strangled, and presumably raped. Colonel Kent has 2,000 military police that he is in charge of at the base and is considered both the police chief and the staff officer who advises Captain Campbell's father, a highly respected and very popular Lieutenant General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Campbell (James Cromwell), (Who was Brenner's Commanding Officer in Vietnam) on all military police matters.
They search Elisabeth's home off base and find it typical of a career Army officer, with one exception: through a false door in the basement, they find what appears to be a sexual dungeon of sorts, with handcuffs, harnesses, and a camera connected to a VCR. Sunhill goes to their car to make a call from her cell phone, and while Brenner gathers the tapes, he is attacked by a masked figure armed with a steel snow shovel. The culprit manages to disorient Brenner long enough to steal the videotapes. Brenner questions Elisabeth's close confidante, Colonel Robert Moore (James Woods), who also works in psy ops. Though cordial and somewhat cooperative, Moore is evasive when questioned, and gives an alibi of being in bed asleep at the time of the murder. However, this proves false when Moore's fingerprints are found on Elisabeth's dog tags that were found in a plastic trash bag several yards from her body, along with her clothing. Brenner arrests Moore on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and takes him to jail.
Moore is later released by the officer in charge of the jail and restricted to house arrest. Brenner, Sunhill, and Colonel William Kent, return to Moore's home and find Moore dead on his couch with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his forehead.
The General's adjutant, Colonel George Fowler (Clarence Williams III), attempts to close the investigation at the crime scene, stating that Moore killed himself out of guilt because he killed Elisabeth. Brenner states he intends to keep the case open and much tension is seen between them. Further cover-ups are revealed, and it's later learned that Elisabeth was sexually promiscuous with virtually all the officers that made up her father's staff. It's also revealed that Elisabeth was an honor student at West Point until her sophomore year and barely managed to graduate. Brenner and Sunhill visit Colonel Dr. Donald Slesinger (John Beasley), the academy's psychiatrist, who explains that Captain Campbell had been gang raped by fellow trainees while a cadet at West Point. During a large training exercise of around 1000 personnel, she had found herself separated from her group and was jumped by six male cadets, beaten and raped all night, almost to the point of death and left to die in an isolated area (staked down in exactly the same manner she was murdered in). Luckily, another trainee group which had got lost, found Elisabeth and rescued her. Elisabeth never knew the names of her assailants, but Sunhill tracks down one of the attackers and engineers a confession by telling him the advances in DNA technology mean his 'gene prints' are traceable. She pretends that the bloodstained underwear she shows the soldier is the genuine article.
The agents pay a visit to the general, who corroborates the story. Fearing that the assailants would never be caught, Campbell acted upon the advice of another general and decided to cover up the incident since such a scandal would destroy the academy, not to mention his own ambitions to become Vice President of the United States. This denial of justice severely traumatized Elisabeth, causing her to partake in various violent sexual activities.
Campbell reveals that he did encounter his daughter the night of her murder, and that Elisabeth herself, with the aid of Moore, staged the reenactment of the academy incident in an attempt to force her father to face the truth he covered up. Unmoved, Campbell left his daughter tied to the stakes.
Realizing that Kent is the only suspect left, Brenner decides to question him. He calls Sunhill but learns that she was returning to the murder scene...with Kent, who also wants to see Brenner. Brenner arrives and confronts Kent, who admits that he killed Elisabeth after she rejected him and threatened to tell his family about the affair. Kent then commits suicide with an anti-personnel mine.
Parallel to these events, Brenner and Sunhill manage to invalidate Campbell's reasons for the cover up by swiftly discovering and arresting all of his daughter's assailants (the charges they face guarantee a minimum of 20 years in prison). As Campbell prepares to get on the plane to accompany Elizabeth's body to the funeral, he is confronted by Brenner, who lays the burden of his daughter's death on the general; disgusted, he tells Campbell that his betrayal of Elisabeth was what really killed her and that Kent had just put her out of her misery. He then tells Campbell he will be court-martialled for conspiracy to conceal a crime, thus destroying the general's career.
The film ends with a montage of Elizabeth's happy childhood and Brenner and Sunhill departing in opposite directions and an admiring glance by Sunhill at the departing Brenner. A written epilogue explains that General Campbell is found guilty for the crime and courtmartialed, soon after disappearing from public life.
- John Travolta - CW3 Paul Brenner, U.S. Army CID
- Madeleine Stowe - CW2 Sarah Sunhill, U.S. Army CID
- James Cromwell - Lieutenant General Joseph Campbell
- Timothy Hutton - Colonel William Kent
- Leslie Stefanson - Captain Elisabeth Campbell
- Daniel von Bargen - Police Chief Yardley
- Clarence Williams III - Colonel George Fowler
- James Woods - Colonel Dr. Robert Moore, MD
- Mark Boone Jr. - Staff Sergeant Dalbert Elkins
- John Beasley - Colonel Dr. Donald Slesinger, MD
- Boyd Kestner - Captain Jake Elby
- Brad Beyer - Captain Bransford
- John Benjamin Hickey - Captain Goodson
The film was directed by Simon West who also directed Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and When a Stranger Calls (2006). The movie was produced by Mace Neufeld. This movie was an adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name, written by Nelson DeMille and published in 1992.
Much of the movie was filmed in various locations in and around Savannah, Georgia.
The film had generally negative reviews with 22% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 19 out of 86 critics giving it a positive review with an average rating of 4.3/10. The consensus is "Contrived performances and over-the-top sequences offer little real drama". Despite this, the film took in almost $150 million worldwide, about $55 million over its $95 million budget.
- The General's Daughter. Box Office Mojo. Accessed 2008-12-24.
- "The General's Daughter". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- The General's Daughter. Box Office Mojo. Accessed 2008-12-24.
- The General's Daughter at the Internet Movie Database
- The General's Daughter (film) at AllRovi
- The General's Daughter (film) at the TCM Movie Database
- The General's Daughter at Rotten Tomatoes
- The General's Daughter at Box Office Mojo