An Officer and a Gentleman

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An Officer and a Gentleman
An Officer and a Gentleman film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTaylor Hackford
Produced byMartin Elfand
Douglas Day Stewart
Written byDouglas Day Stewart
Music byJack Nitzsche
CinematographyDonald E. Thorin
Edited byPeter Zinner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 28, 1982 (1982-07-28)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[1] or $7 million[2]
Box office$130 million[3]

An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American romantic drama film[4] starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger, and Louis Gossett Jr., who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, making him the first African American male to do so. It tells the story of Zack Mayo (Gere), a United States Navy Aviation Officer Candidate who is beginning his training at Aviation Officer Candidate School. While Zack meets his first true girlfriend during his training, a young "townie" named Paula (Winger), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Gossett Jr.) training his class.

The film was written by Douglas Day Stewart and directed by Taylor Hackford. Its title is an old expression from the Royal Navy and later from the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice's charge of "conduct unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman" (from 1860). The film was commercially released in the U.S. on August 13, 1982. It was well received by critics, with a number calling it the best film of 1982. It also was a financial success, grossing $130 million[3] against a $6 million budget.[1]


The film begins with Zachary Mayo preparing to report to Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) following college graduation. He moved to the Philippines as a child to live with his father Byron, a Navy Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate, after his mother's suicide. Initially his father didn't want him because he was at sea most of the time and wasn't much good at being a father while in port. After begging him not to be sent back, Byron lets Zach stay. He would grow up as a Navy brat at Subic Bay. Zack is now determined - despite his father's disapproval - to become a Navy pilot so one day Byron will have to salute him.

Upon arrival at AOCS, Zack and his fellow AOCs are shocked by the draconian treatment they receive from their head drill instructor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley, who makes it clear that the next 13 weeks are designed to eliminate officer candidates (OCs) who are found to be mentally or physically unfit for commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy's $1 million flight training program. Foley warns the male candidates about the "Puget Sound Debs" (local girls) who dream of marrying a Naval Aviator to escape their dull lives. Foley warns the OCs they will feign pregnancy or even stop using birth control to become pregnant to trap a man. Zack and fellow candidate Sid Worley meet two local factory workers Paula Pokrifki and Lynette Pomeroy at a Navy Ball. Zack begins a relationship with Paula while Sid dates Lynette.

Foley runs the program mercilessly. Recruit Topper Daniels drops out after he nearly drowns in a crash-escape exercise. Foley believes Zack lacks motivation and is not a team player. When Zack's side business selling pre-shined shoes and belt buckles is discovered, Foley starts an entire weekend of hazing in an attempt to make him DOR (Drop on Request). After refusing to quit, Foley tells Zack he will personally eject him. Zach breaks down telling Foley that this is his only option and he has "nowhere else to go." Satisfied that Zack has come to crucial self-realization, Foley gives him the chance to prove he can be a team player. The next weekend he has an awkward meal with Paula and her family, where he learns that her actual father was an OC like himself who refused to marry her mother, after which her mother entered a loveless marriage with the man who raised Paula. Although he has the chance to break the obstacle course record, Zack instead stops to encourage Casey Seeger (the lone female OC) to succeed and climb over a 12-foot-high wall (3.7 m).

Zack attends a dinner with Sid and his parents and learns that Sid has a long-time girlfriend back home who he is planning to marry once he receives his commission. Meanwhile, Lynette has been dropping hints to Sid that she may be pregnant with his child. After having a severe anxiety attack during a high-altitude simulation in a pressure chamber, Sid DORs without saying goodbye. He goes to Lynette's house to propose marriage but she rejects him because she wanted to marry a naval aviator. After telling him the pregnancy was a lie as well, Sid checks into a motel and hangs himself. Zack heads back to base with the intent to DOR himself after finding Sid's body but Foley won’t let him quit. They fight an unofficial martial arts bout in which Foley takes a lot of punishment due to Zack's youth and unorthodox style, but then he lays Zack out with a groin kick. An injured Foley tells Zack he can quit now if he wants.

Zack decides to stay and is commissioned into the Navy with his graduating 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 belt pocket, Foley places the coin in his right, acknowledging that Zack was a special candidate. Zack thanks the Gunnery Sergeant for not giving up on him and says he would have never have made it without him. While leaving the base, he sees Foley initiating a new OC class who are in the same position he was thirteen weeks earlier. As Ensign Mayo, he now seeks out Paula at her factory where he declares his love to her. He picks her up and walks out with her in his arms to the applause of her colleagues, including Lynette.


(in credits order)



The film was shot in late 1981 on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, at Port Townsend and Fort Worden. The U.S. Navy did not permit filming at NAS Pensacola in the Florida panhandle, the site of the actual Aviation Officer Candidate School[5] in 1981. Deactivated U.S. Army base Fort Worden stood in for the location of the school, 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 motel room in Port Townsend, The Tides Inn on Water Street (48°06′38″N 122°45′54″W / 48.1105°N 122.765°W / 48.1105; -122.765), was used for the film.[6] 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 movie 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 (Port Townsend Jr High School during filming).[6] 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.[6] As of 2009, the house was shrouded by a large hedge, and the front porch had 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 leaving on 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.

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, as a naval aviator hangout until it closed later in November 2003. For years, it was traditional for graduating Aviation Officer Candidate School classes to celebrate their commissioning at "Trader's."[citation needed][7]


Originally, folk music singer and occasional actor John Denver was signed to play Zack Mayo. But a casting process eventually involved Jeff Bridges, Harry Hamlin, Christopher Reeve, John Travolta, and Richard Gere.[8][9] Gere eventually beat all the other actors for the part. John Travolta had turned down the role, as he did with American Gigolo (another Richard Gere hit).[9][10]

The role of Paula was originally given to Sigourney Weaver,[11] then to Anjelica Huston[11] and later to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who dropped out to do the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High instead.[12] Eventually, Debra Winger replaced Leigh for the role of Paula. Rebecca De Mornay,[12] Meg Ryan,[11] and Geena Davis[11] auditioned for the role of Paula.

In spite of the strong on-screen chemistry between Gere and Winger, the actors didn't get along during filming. Publicly, she called him a "brick wall" while he admitted there was "tension" between them. Thirty years later, Gere was complimentary towards Winger when he said that she was much more open to the camera than he was, and he appreciated the fact that she presented him with an award at the Rome Film Festival.[13]

R. Lee Ermey was originally the main cast for Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley due to his time of being an actual drill instructor for the United States Marine Corps at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in the 1960s. However, Taylor Hackford instead cast Louis Gossett Jr. and had Ermey coach him for his role as the film's technical advisor. It was there where the "steers and queers" comment from Gossett's character in the 1982 movie came from, which was later used for Ermey's role in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket.[14]

Hackford kept Gossett Jr. in separate living quarters from other actors during production so Gossett could intimidate them more during his scenes as drill instructor.[15] In addition to R. Lee Ermey, Gossett was advised by Gunnery Sergeant Buck Welscher.[15]


Richard Gere rides a 750cc T140E Triumph Bonneville. In the United Kingdom, Paramount linked with Triumph Motorcycles (Meriden) Ltd on a mutual promotion campaign. 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 a portion of the score (that was used to write "Up Where We Belong") played at the right tempo, he said it gave him chills. Gere is now convinced Hackford made the right decision.[16] 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, an 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 are 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 hanging in the shower is also edited.

Home media[edit]

The film has been available on various formats, first on VHS and also DVD. It was first released on DVD in 2000 with two extra features, audio commentary and film trailer. It was released as a collectors edition in 2007 with new bonus material. The film debuted on Blu-ray in the U.S. by Warner Bros. and UK by Paramount Pictures in 2013, however the same bonus features ported from the 2007 DVD are only on the U.S. release.[17][18] It was re-released in 2017 by Paramount Pictures.[19]


Box office[edit]

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.[20] It grossed $3,304,679 in its opening weekend[21] and $129,795,554 overall at the domestic box office.[22] It sold an estimated 44 million tickets in the US.

Critical response[edit]

An Officer and a Gentleman was well received by critics and is widely considered one of the best films of 1982.[23][24][25] The film holds a 79% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 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".[26] 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."[27]

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 is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Actress Debra Winger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Louis Gossett Jr. Won
Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Douglas Day Stewart Nominated
Best Film Editing Peter Zinner Nominated
Best Original Score Jack Nitzsche Nominated
Best Original Song "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
British Academy Film Awards Best Original Music Jack Nitzsche Nominated
Best Original Song "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Taylor Hackford Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama An Officer and a Gentleman Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Richard Gere Nominated
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Debra Winger Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Louis Gossett Jr. Won
David Keith Nominated
Best Original Song – Motion Picture "Up Where We Belong" – Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Will Jennings Won
New Star of the Year – Actor David Keith Nominated
New Star of the Year – Actress Lisa Blount Nominated
Grammy Awards[31] Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – "Up Where We Belong" Won
Japan Academy Film Prize Outstanding Foreign Language Film An Officer and a Gentleman Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Louis Gossett Jr. Won
National Board of Review Awards Top 10 Films An Officer and a Gentleman Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Written Directly for the Screenplay Douglas Day Stewart Nominated

Louis Gossett Jr. became the first African-American actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the fourth African-American Oscar winner overall (after Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier and Isaac Hayes).

Producer Don Simpson complained about the song "Up Where We Belong", "The song is no good. It isn't a hit," and unsuccessfully demanded it be cut from the film. It later became the number one song on the Billboard charts.


The soundtrack was released on August 13, 1982, reaching #38 on the Billboard 200 and staying on the chart for 23 weeks.[32][33] The CD version doesn't include some of the instrumental selections that were available on the original record.[34]

"Up Where We Belong" was released as a single and became a global hit peaking at number one in the US, Canada, and Australia, and reaching the top 10 in many other countries.

Track Listing (Original Record)[edit]

Song Lyrics by Performed by
"Up Where We Belong" Will Jennings Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
"Theme from 'An Officer and a Gentleman" Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie Lee Ritenour
"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 Greg Pecknold
"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
"Love Theme From 'An Officer And A Gentleman" Lee Ritenour Lee Ritenour
"The Morning After Love Theme" Jack Nitzsche Jack Nitzsche


  • The 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.[35]
  • A stage musical, with book by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen and songs by Ken Hirsch and Robin Lerner, directed by Simon Phillips, opened on May 18, 2012 at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, Australia.[36] The production received mixed reviews[37] and closed after six weeks.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 198, ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. ^ "The Unstoppables". Spy. November 1988. p. 92.
  3. ^ a b "Box Office Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  4. ^ "An Officer and a Gentleman". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. May 22, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "Fun Trivia". Archived from the original on June 9, 2013. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)". Washington film locations. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  7. ^ Edman, Carter (1996). "Trader Jon: Unofficial Curator of Naval Aviation". Naval Aviation News. hdl:2027/uiug.30112105167453.
  8. ^ Perlman, Jake (August 8, 2014). "Was Jeff Bridges really supposed to play Batman and Indiana Jones?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Omar, Aref (October 24, 2014). "TOP PICKS: Officers and gentlemen". New Straits Times. Archived from the original on August 25, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  10. ^ Kinser, Jeremy (September 1, 2012). "Richard Gere Accepted American Gigolo Role Because of Gay Subtext". The Advocate. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d Naglazas, Mark (May 16, 2012). "Officer's stage salute". The West Australian. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "An Officer and a Gentleman (Movie)". April 16, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Krane, Jonathan D. (September 7, 2012). The Art & Science of Moviemaking (Part I). Polimedia Publishing. pp. 98–100.
  15. ^ a b Klemesrud, Judy (August 20, 1982). "The making of a new D.I.: Director separated Gossett, Gere to sustain intensity". The Lakeland Register. pp. 1–2C.
  16. ^ "Gere begged director not to shoot romantic scene". PR Inside. April 29, 2007.
  17. ^ An Officer and a Gentleman Blu-ray | United States | Warner Bros. | 1982 | 124 min | Rated R | May 07, 2013
  18. ^ An Officer and a Gentleman Blu-ray | United Kingdom | Paramount Pictures | 1982 | 124 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Sep 02, 2013
  19. ^ An Officer and a Gentleman Blu-ray | United States | Paramount Pictures | 1982 | 124 min | Rated R | Sep 12, 2017
  20. ^ "1982 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  21. ^ "Box Office and Business Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  22. ^ "Box Office Information for An Officer and a Gentleman". Box Office Archived from the original on June 20, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  23. ^ "The Greatest Films of 1982". AMC Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  24. ^ "The Best Movies of 1982 by Rank". Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  25. ^ "Most Popular Feature Films Released in 1982". Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  26. ^ "An Officer and a Gentleman Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  27. ^ "An Officer and a Gentleman Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 20, 2010.
  28. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  30. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  31. ^ "1982 Grammy Award Winners". Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  32. ^ "Album Chart for 1982-12-18 | Music Charts Archive". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  33. ^ ""An Officer And A Gentleman" Album by Soundtrack | Music Charts Archive". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  34. ^ "Track listing (CD) as seen on Amazon". Archived from the original on January 27, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  35. ^ "Takarazuka".
  36. ^ Paul Chai, "Review: 'An Officer and a Gentleman'", Variety, May 22, 2012.
  37. ^ "Review Roundup: An Officer and a Gentleman in Sydney",, May 20, 2012 (summary and links to other reviews).
  38. ^ Adam Fulton, "Show won't go on: musical fails to deliver on world premiere fanfare", The Australian, June 12, 2016.

External links[edit]