Taps (1981)

Taps (1981)

Taglines: This school is our home, we think it’s worth defending.

An announcement that the venerable Bunker Hill Military Academy, a 141 year old institute, is to be torn down and replaced with condos sets off the young cadets led by their stodgy commander. Under the command of a student cadet major, the cadets seize the campus, refuse entry of the construction crews and ultimately confront the real military.

Taps is a 1981 American drama film starring George C. Scott and Timothy Hutton, with Ronny Cox, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn and Evan Handler in supporting roles. Hutton was nominated for a Golden Globe award in 1982. The film was directed by Harold Becker from a screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen, James Lineberger, and Darryl Ponicsan, based on Devery Freeman’s 1979 novel Father Sky. The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre.

The film follows a group of military school students who decide to take over their school in order to save it from closing. This was Tom Cruise’s second film role, following a brief appearance in Endless Love, released in 1981 just a few months before Taps.

About the Story

Bunker Hill Military Academy has just concluded another school year. Cadet Brian Moreland, a junior, meets privately with the academy commandant, retired Brigadier General Harlan Bache. Bache promotes Moreland to Cadet Major, the paramount rank at BHMA. Bache also reflects on the time when he was a cadet at West Point (Moreland’s intended college), as well as a graduate of BHMA prior to that, and how he dreads his forthcoming retirement. Moreland is congratulated first by his friend Cadet Captain Alex Dwyer, as well as by Cadet Captain David Shawn and Cadet Lieutenant Edward West. Shawn leads a celebration in the hallway.

Taps (1981)

The commencement is celebrated with a parade and pass and review. Following the ceremonies, General Bache announces that BHMA’s board of trustees is selling the school to real estate developers. The school will remain open for one year in order to allow the seniors to graduate and give the underclassmen time to apply to other schools. The delay gives many cadets hope that BHMA can be saved. Bache also hopes that the institute can be saved, as he remarks to Moreland “We are here, and the condos are not”.

The graduation ceremony is followed by a ball that evening. Outside the gates, a brawl erupts when several local teenagers harass the cadets, which escalates into one local assaulting a sentry. General Bache tries to break up the fight, but his service pistol is seized by one of the teens and the weapon discharges, killing a second teen. Although the magazine had been removed, a round was still in the chamber. Bache is arrested and charged with manslaughter. However, the trauma of the event combined with the arrest triggered a heart attack and Bache is hospitalized in critical condition. The board of trustees closes BHMA immediately.

Since Bache is ill, Moreland meets with the officers of the cadet corps and they take control of Bunker Hill. The Dean of Students arrives with the local Sheriff to empty the armory. They find the weapons in the hands of an armed cadre led by Major Moreland, who demands to meet with General Bache and the trustees so that BHMA will be kept open. The Dean and Sheriff are escorted off the campus by armed cadets, who secure the perimeter.

Taps Movie Poster (1981)

Taps (1981)

Directed by: Harold Becker
Starring: George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Ronny Cox, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, Brendan Ward, Evan Handler, Giancarlo Esposito
Screenplay by: Darryl Ponicsan, Robert Mark Kamen
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Film Editing by: Maury Winetrobe
Set Decoration by: Carl Biddiscombe
Art Direction by: Stan Jolley, Alfred Sweeney
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 18, 1981