Gardens of Stone (1987)

Gardens of Stone (1987)

Taglines: It was a dangerous time to be young. An impossible time to be a hero.

In the late 60s, during the Vietnam War, the idealistic soldier Jackie Willow arrives at Fort Meyer expecting to go to the Academy and then to the Vietnam War. Jackie is the son of a veteran sergeant and soon he becomes the protégé of the former friends of his father, Sergeant Clell Hazard and Sergeant Major ‘Goody’ Nelson. Jackie is promoted and gets married with his childhood friend Rachel Feld, to recommend Jackie to the Academy. He is promoted to lieutenant and asks to go to the Vietnam, returning to the Arlington National Cemetery.

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, Mary Stuart Masterson, D.B. Sweeney, Dean Stockwell, Lonette McKee, Elias Koteas and Laurence Fishburne.

About the Story

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.

The Old Guard is U.S. Army’s Honor Guard. It provides the ceremonial honor guard for the funerals of fallen soldiers and guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Hazard calls them the “toy soldiers” and hates his job until Jackie Willow (D. B. Sweeney), the son of an old friend and fellow veteran, is assigned to his platoon and he sees an opportunity to make sure at least one man comes home alive.

Hazard tries to warn Willow about Vietnam but the young man sees it as his duty as a soldier to fight for his country, no matter what kind of war. Hazard hates how the war in Vietnam is being fought and feels that good soldiers are being wounded and killed in the “wrong” war in which the U.S. is not fighting to win.

Among the others in Hazard’s life are his longtime friend and superior, Sergeant Major “Goody” Nelson (James Earl Jones), and his girlfriend Samantha Davis (Anjelica Huston), a writer for the Washington Post who is against the Vietnam War for different reasons.

Willow marries a Colonel’s daughter named Rachel Feld (Mary Stuart Masterson). Rachel at first refuses to marry Jackie as long as he is a soldier. Rachel also hates the war in Vietnam and is afraid for her husband.

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.

Gardens of Stone Movie Poster (1987)

Gardens of Stone (1987)

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: James Caan, Anjelica Huston, James Earl Jones, Mary Stuart Masterson, D.B. Sweeney, Dean Stockwell, Lonette McKee, Elias Koteas, Laurence Fishburne
Screenplay by: Ronald Bass
Production Design by: Dean Tavoularis
Cinematography by: Jordan Cronenweth
Film Editing by: Barry Malkin
Costume Design by: Willa Kim, Judianna Makovsky
Set Decoration by: Gary Fettis
Art Direction by: Alex Tavoularis
Music by: Carmine Coppola
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: May 8, 1987