T*A*P*S Harold Becker

Perhaps its timely for the world to once again notice T*A*P*S, a 1981 film best known for introducing the world to Tom Cruise and Sean Penn — it’s only lead star Timothy Hutton’s second film, but since he won an Oscar for his first, Ordinary People, his profile was a little higher at the time. It concerns the students of a high school-level military academy; when the school is threatened, they take hostages in order to secure its continuation. When their black and white military morality meets the grey areas of the outside world, the clash is tragic, all the more so because some of its victims are young tweens. With Patton himself, George C. Scott, as the commandant of the school, you can’t blame young, aspiring soldiers like the lead trio to bleed red, white and honour, which they do during lots of earnest speechifying about dying for causes and doing the right thing. Cruise’s young cadet takes this to the most intense extreme, with Penn on Hutton’s other shoulder, playing an angel to Cruise’s gung-ho devil. For its 25th anniversary, this DVD is all about its star trio, though only Hutton participates; other than a commentary from the gruff-voiced Becker, the origin of the film’s titular bugle call is explored in another featurette. Despite wanting to explore the cultural clash between free civilians and the military, T*A*P*S comes off fairly sympathetic to the men and women of the armed forces, which makes you wonder how a film like T*A*P*S would play in our more divisive, war-torn times. (Fox)