Taglines: It will lift you up where you belong.
Zack Mayo is a young man who has signed up for Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School. He is a Navy brat who has a bad attitude problem. GySgt Foley is there to train and evaluate him and will clearly find Zack wanting. Zack meets Paula, a girl who has little beyond family and must decide what it is he wants to do with his life.
An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American romantic drama film starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett, Jr., who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, and was produced by Lorimar Productions for Paramount Pictures. It tells the story of Zack (Gere), a U.S. 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 local young woman named Paula (Winger), he also comes into conflict with the hard-driving Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (Gossett, Jr.), the Drill Instructor training his class.
The film was written by Douglas Day Stewart and directed by Taylor Hackford. Its title is an old expression from the British 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 $129.8 million against a $6 million budget.
About the Story
Zachary “Zack” Mayo (Richard Gere) is preparing to report to Aviation Officer Candidate School. As he is doing so, he has brief flashbacks of his childhood. After the death of his unnamed mother (who committed suicide), an adolescent Zack was sent to live with his only living relative, his father Byron Mayo (Robert Loggia), who is stationed in the Philippines. The elder Mayo, a Navy Chief Petty Officer / Chief Boatswain’s Mate, made no attempt to hide his heavy drinking and hiring of prostitutes from a young Zack.
When Zack said he needed help, Byron said he did not ask to get married nor be a father. The flashbacks advance to the present, where Zack has just graduated from college and informs his father he will be going to Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS). Byron, who hates officers, tells Zack that his dream of becoming an officer is as unrealistic as hoping to become President. Despite his father’s discouragement, Zack is determined to go through with his childhood dreams of becoming a Navy pilot and prove to him that he can make it.
Upon arrival at AOCS, Zack and his fellow AOCs are shocked by the harsh treatment they receive from their head drill instructor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.). Foley makes it clear that the 13-week program is designed to eliminate OCs who are found to be mentally or physically unfit for commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, which will earn them flight training worth over $1,000,000. Foley warns the male candidates about the “Puget Sound Debs” — young women in the area who dream of marrying a Naval Aviator to escape their dull, local lives. Foley claims they scout the regiment for OCs, and will feign pregnancy or even stop using birth control to become pregnant to trap the men.
Zack becomes friends with fellow candidates Sid Worley (David Keith), Emiliano Della Serra (Tony Plana), Lionel Perryman (Harold Sylvester), and Casey Seeger (Lisa Eilbacher). Zack and Sid meet two local young women – factory workers – at a Navy Ball. Zack begins a romantic relationship with Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger) and Sid with Lynette Pomeroy (Lisa Blount).
Foley rides Zack mercilessly, believing he lacks motivation and is not a team player. When Zack’s side business of selling pre-shined shoes and belt buckles is discovered, Foley hazes him for a weekend in an attempt to make him DOR (“Drop on Request”, a Navy term for requesting termination of training), but Zack refuses. Foley states Zack will be declared unfit, which frightens Zack into admitting he has no options in civilian life. Satisfied that Zack has come to a crucial self-realization, Foley punishes Zack by making him clean all the urinals, but does not recommend attrition. Henceforth, Zack starts behaving like a team player.
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith, Robert Loggia, Lisa Blount, Lisa Eilbacher, Tony Plana, Harold Sylvester, Grace Zabriskie, Mara Scott-Wood
Screenplay by: Douglas Day Stewart
Production Design by: Philip M. Jefferies
Cinematography by: Donald E. Thorin
Film Editing by: Peter Zinner
Set Decoration by: James L. Berkey
Art Direction by: John V. Cartwright
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: August 13, 1982