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Officer And A Gentleman, AnUSA 1982
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Running time 124 minutes
Although Taylor Hackford’s film is well-enough made it is hard to see why it has the near legendary status it has, other than the fact that it taps into the same vein of heroic self-affirmation as another much admired, in its motherland at least, pop cultural icon, Rocky. Although it is demographically enhanced somewhat from Stallone’s mean streets setting, in essence both films follow the familiar trajectory of a loner who becomes a better man thanks to lots of push-ups and the love of a good woman.
The Stallone role is taken by the much more appealing Richard Gere who as Zack Mayo signs up to Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in order to become a fighter pilot, so to realize a childhood dream but also to prove to his useless, whoring, alcoholic father (Robert Loggia) that he can be someone. Talia Shire’s Adrian is replaced by Debra Winger’s Paula, a feisty local factory girl. After a lot of basic training under watchful eye of the familiarly hard ass drill instructor, Sgt Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.) with not a hint of Full Metal Jacket disaffection to be seen, a few laughs, a few tears, Rocky and Adrian, sorry, Zack and Paula fall into each other arms to the stirring strains of the Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes hit “Up Where We Belong“ and you’re done.
To its credit the film is for the time remarkably honest in its depiction of sexual relations and these, including a sub-plot involving the closest friends (David Keith and Lisa Blount) of the main couple give it more dramatic, if not exactly nuance, then variety but An Officer And A Gentleman is still, in brief, Rocky Lite.