An Officer and a Gentleman

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
WHERE THE EAGLES FLY Gere and Winger make love, not war.
WHERE THE EAGLES FLY Gere and Winger make love, not war.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

It’s been 25 years since Richard Gere carried Debra Winger out of a paper bag factory at the end of An Officer and a Gentleman. According to director Taylor Hackford’s commentary on the new special-edition DVD, that now-iconic ending almost got cut from the script because he and Gere feared it was too hokey-—until filming day, when the real factory employees playing extras spontaneously burst into applause and tears when they spied Gere’s dress whites gleaming through the machinery. That settled that.

A coming-of-age tale set during 13 hellacious weeks of Officer Candidate School, Gentleman shows its age but mostly wears it well. Drill instructor Foley (the role that won Lou Gossett Jr. a much-deserved Oscar) berates the “poopies” with his patented “steers and queers” diatribe, a bit of homophobia that dates the film as much as its Cinderella-visits-the-Navy-base subplot. But while women in the military aren’t the novelty they were in 1982, the struggle of candidate Seeger (played with moxie by Lisa Eilbacher) is a solid reminder of the fight it took to make that the case.

Despite a quarter century’s worth of change in American culture, Gentleman feels fresh, thanks to nakedly honest (and just plain naked) performances by Gere, Winger (AWOL from the disc’s superficial making-of interviews) and especially David Keith, still a revelation as tortured Sid Worley. The sex is steamy, the emotions raw—try not to flinch when Gere breaks down in front of Gossett—and that ending can make even a 21st-century girl stand up and cheer. — Annie Young Frisbie

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