Officer and a Gentleman, An (1982)

“You can kick me out of here, but I ain’t quittin’.”

Synopsis:
A headstrong Naval Aviation Officer candidate (Richard Gere) with a troubled past butts heads with his hard-nosed drill sergeant (Louis Gosset, Jr.) while engaging in a no-commitment romance with a local girl (Debra Winger).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary’s right to refer this “surprise smash hit” — directed by Taylor Hackford and written by Douglas Day Stewart (of Blue Lagoon screenwriting fame) — as “slick, manipulative, and hackneyed”. He notes that the “training scenes are drivel, taken from countless other basic-training pictures”, but points out that the “erotic performances by Gere and Winger, and [Winger’s] sympathetic character… wear down most resistance” from viewers. Adding to the film’s appeal is the Oscar-winning theme song “Up Where We Belong”, and a powerful supporting performance by Lou Gossett, Jr., who Peary posits “shouted his way to an Oscar”. Despite its strengths, however, An Officer and Gentleman is ultimately a disappointing romance, given how closely it hews to old-fashioned, anti-feminist norms.

Winger plays an appealingly independent-minded character, yet she’s reduced — like all the working-class women in her town, apparently — to waiting for a man to rescue her from her situation, whether it’s for a temporary month-long fling, or a longer commitment. We’re meant to tsk at the tactics employed by Winger’s best friend Lynette (Lisa Blount) when trying to snag a cadet of her own (David Keith), but Winger isn’t necessarily a much better role model. Meanwhile, petite Lisa Eilbacher is cast in a gratuitous role as a female trainee struggling to make her way through candidacy, who breaks down into tears every time she tries to progress through a particularly challenging component of the obstacle course — and, naturally, she’s helped by a man in the end. The famous final factory scene between Gere and Winger is perhaps most egregious of all, though I won’t spoil the film by saying too much more. Ultimately, this erstwhile hit remains erotic eye candy at best, with the added bonus of seeing Winger in one of her too-few leading roles before she left Hollywood semi-permanently in the mid-1990s.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Richard Gere as Zack
  • Debra Winger as Paula
  • Lou Gosset, Jr. as Sergeant Foley

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time viewing simply for the performances.

Links:

One Response to “Officer and a Gentleman, An (1982)”

  1. Not a must. To me, this is nothing more than a date movie – not particularly with any unique quality.

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