An Officer and a Gentleman Taylor Hackford

An Officer and a Gentleman Taylor Hackford
My long ago remembrance of this film’s mediocrity proved incorrect; it’s a simple but effective melodrama made with more oomph than the genre usually allows. This much-loved ’80s exemplar features Richard Gere playing Zack Mayo, the bitter son of a whoring alcoholic sailor (Robert Loggia). Zack sees his last chance for redemption in training to become a navy pilot, which is fitting, as his soon-to-be girlfriend Paula (Debra Winger) sees marrying a pilot as her ticket out of the industrial small town she hates. But though their relationship proves difficult, that’s nothing compared to the star butting heads with drill sergeant Foley (Lou Gossett, Jr.) and the emotional disasters that befall fellow recruit Sid (David Keith). Like a lot of Hollywood movies, this eventually gives in to perplexing plotting and nonsensical moralising but for the most part, it’s a solid screenplay about various no-hopers trying to carve a place in the world. Douglas Day Stewart’s script is largely clean and fat-free, while director Taylor Hackford proves highly effective at selling the emotional high points without getting too syrupy. And of course, Gossett is electrifying in the role that copped him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (in one of the few instances of someone actually deserving it). Though the film isn’t quite the classic it’s sold as, it’s solid entertainment that grips you where it should and doesn’t leave you feeling ripped off. Extras on the special edition include a terrific feature commentary with director Taylor Hackford, five excellent featurettes on the production in general, the location where they shot, composer Jack Nitzsche, the famous fight scene and "true stories of military romance,” and a photo gallery. (Paramount)