Taglines: Go behind the lies.
Chief Warrant Officer CW4 Paul Brenner (John Travolta), a Vietnam War 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. Brenner is actually an undercover agent of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command.
While on the base, his car gets a flat tire and a young officer arrives and helps him change it. The officer is Captain Elisabeth Campbell (Leslie Stefanson), the base commanding general’s daughter and an Army captain in psychological operations. The next evening, she is found murdered. Brenner and another warrant officer, CW2 Sara Sunhill (Madeleine Stowe), who is also a rape specialist, are brought in to investigate.
At the scene, the base Provost Marshal, Colonel William Kent (Timothy Hutton) has secured the area. He informs Captain Campbell’s father, Lieutenant General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Campbell (James Cromwell), a highly-decorated West Point graduate who is preparing to run for Vice President immediately after his impending retirement from the Army.
Brenner and Sunhill 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. Later Brenner questions Elisabeth’s close confidante, Colonel Robert Moore (James Woods). Though cordial and somewhat cooperative, Moore is evasive when questioned, and gives an alibi, which proves false when Moore’s fingerprints are found on Elisabeth’s dog tags, which are found in a plastic trash bag several yards from her corpse, along with her clothing. Brenner arrests Moore on charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and impeding a criminal investigation and has him jailed.
Whilst Brenner is arresting Moore, Sunhill is knocked to the ground by four men who verbally threaten her and Brenner. They dash off as quickly as they arrive, but Sunhill notices that the main assailant was wearing a silver claddagh ring. It turns out to be Captain Elby. In an effort to avoid prosecution, he confesses that Elisabeth was sexually promiscuous with virtually all the officers that made up her father’s staff as part of an extensive “psychological warfare experiment” targeting her father, something he had previously failed to mention.
Back at the jail, Colonel Kent releases Moore, confining him to quarters at his home on-base. When Brenner, Sunhill, and Kent later return to Moore’s home, they find Moore dead on his couch with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. But Brenner is not convinced that Moore’s death was a suicide. General Campbell’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, but Brenner refuses to accept this- even after being reprimanded by Fowler, who sternly warns him to accept this version of events and drop any further investigation into the case.
Later it is revealed that Elisabeth was an honor student at West Point until her sophomore year, after which her class standing plummeted and she barely managed to graduate. Brenner and Sunhill visit Colonel Donald Slesinger (John Beasley), the Academy’s psychiatrist, who explains that Captain Campbell had been brutally gang raped by fellow cadets at West Point during a training exercise and left to die in an isolated area–staked down in exactly the same manner in which she was found murdered. Luckily, another cadet group had found Elisabeth in time and rescued her. Elisabeth never knew the names of her assailants, but Sunhill tracks down one of the attackers through Colonel Slesinger, staying at Fort Benning and engineers a confession. They then swiftly arrest the other assailants, all of whom face 20 years imprisonment each for their crime.
The General’s Daughter is a 1999 American crime film directed by Simon West and starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Clarence Williams, James Woods, Leslie Stefanson, Daniel von Bargen and Mark Boone Junior. The plot concerns the mysterious death of the daughter of a prominent Army general. The film is based on the 1992 novel by the same name by Nelson DeMille.
The plot of the film is significantly different from that of the novel, although the outcome is the same. For instance, in the novel Brenner never meets Elisabeth Campbell. The first time he sees her is at the murder scene. Notably, the first name of the general’s daughter was changed from Ann to Elisabeth, and the ending took a slightly different turn. With a $95 million budget, the film grossed almost $103 million at the domestical box office and $150 million worldwide.
The General’s Daughter (1999)
Directed by: Simon West
Starring: John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, Clarence Williams, James Woods, Leslie Stefanson, Daniel von Bargen, Mark Boone Junior
Screenplay by: Christopher Bertolini, William Goldman, Nelson DeMille
Production Design by: J. Dennis Washington
Cinematography by: Peter Menzies Jr.
Film Editing by: Glen Scantlebury
Costume Design by: Erica Edell Phillips
Set Decoration by: Marvin March
Art Direction by: Ann Harris, Thomas T. Taylor
Music by: Carter Burwell
MPAA Rating: R for graphic images relating to sexual violence including a strong rape scene, some perverse sexuality, nudity and language.
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 18, 1999