A young man must complete his work at a Navy Flight school to become an aviator, with the help of a tough gunnery sergeant and his new girlfriend.
Release Year: 1982
Rating: 6.8/10 (20,971 voted)
Critic's Score: 75/100
Stars: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith
Zack Mayo is a young man who has signed up for Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School. He is a Navy brat who has a bad attitude problem. GySgt Foley is there to train and evaluate him and will clearly find Zack wanting. Zack meets Paula, a girl who has little beyond family and must decide what it is he wants to do with his life.
Louis Gossett Jr.
Sgt. Emil Foley
Emiliano Della Serra
(as Mara Scott Wood)
Life gave him nothing, except the courage to win…and a woman to love.
Release Date: 13 August 1982
Filming Locations: Bremerton, Washington, USA
Opening Weekend: $3,304,679
(1 August 1982)
Did You Know?
Kristy McNichol and Brooke Shields were each offered the role of Paula, but both turned it down.
Errors in geography:
The beginning of the movie is set in Seattle, Washington, but when Zack gets on his motorcycle to leave from his father's house, it is outside the Naval Base in Bremerton, Washington, on the other side of Puget Sound. Seattle does not have a Naval home port.
[whispered to sleeping father]
[flashback to Manila]
Hey, kid! Are you Zack?
I'm Byron; nice to meet you. Come on, let's get your bags, OK?
Great story of self-discovery made even better by strong performances
'An Officer And A Gentleman' is a brilliant film with great performances
from Richard Gere, Louis Gossett Jr. and Debra Winger. Richard Gere
the character of Zack Mayo, a troubled young man who, due to neglect and
parenting by a military father, signs up with the Navy to get some
in his misguided life.
Mayo's life is made even harder by the ball-busting Sergeant Foley (Louis
Gossett Jr.) upon his arrival at the barracks, and he struggles to find
place. However, he does find it in himself to stand-up to the overbearing
Foley and his own inner-demons and, during the course of the film, goes
being selfish, weak and undisciplined to considerate, strong and
His will, as well as the love of the beautiful Paula (Debra Winger) and
guidance of Foley, makes him stay the course and lifts him 'up where he
Richard Gere is great in adding layers to what could have been a poorly
drawn characterisation. Mayo is not always the 'good guy' and is more
than not a complete prick. Nevertheless, he undertakes a journey of
self-discovery where he refuses to become a carbon copy of his father and
takes hold of his own destiny, turning himself into the man he wants to
Gere has never been better on film than when he screams, `I got nowhere
to go!' at Foley in such a heartbreaking howl that the audience can
literally feel his pain.
Debra Winger is also good as Paula, a downtrodden factory girl trapped in
small-minded small town with a lack of opportunities for women. She not
finds a way out in her love for Mayo, but the hope of a better future
somewhere else. Louis Gossett Jr. also stands out as the foul-mouthed,
domineering Sergeant Foley who proves to be pivotal in Mayo's
With a great soundtrack, strong performances and the most rousing and
emotional final scene in a film since 'Rocky', 'An Officer And A
deserves its place among the classics of film history.