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Film: An Officer and a Gentleman
"Love lifts us up where we belong..."

"You know something, you ain't nothing special. You got no manners, you treat woman like whores and if you ask me you got no chance of being no officer."

A 1982 romantic drama starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger, David Keith, and Louis Gossett Jr. Gere plays Zack Mayo, an orphaned loner who grew up to be an emotionally isolated opportunist after his mother commits suicide and his father ignores him. After graduating from college, he joins the Navy in hopes of becoming an Aviator, and enters officer's training under the tutelage of Drill Sergeant Nasty Emil Foley (Gossett). Despite being warned about the local girls who are looking for potential officers to marry, Zack and his friend Sid Worley (Keith) begin to date two local girls, Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger) and Lynette Pomeroy (Lisa Blount). Along the way, Zack learns the importance of friends and colleagues.

Earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for Louis Gossett Jr, who, it should be noted, had to beat out his co-star David Keith, who had also been nominated for the latter award.

Despite the name, the movie is not the Trope Namer for the Officer and a Gentleman trope.


This work provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Deconstructed. Mayo leaps every hurdle—from the obstacle course to shining belt buckles—with ease. But he falls far short of Foley's standards for character, who makes it clear he'd rather pass the girl who can't make it over the climbing wall than the ethically elastic Mayo.
  • Artistic License - Military: As a general rule, Gunnery Sergeant Foley should be referred to by that rank, or by the accepted informal shorthand "Gunny." In Navy OCS, however, the proper term of address for a drill instructor of any rank is "Sergeant Instructor." The movie gets it wrong in either case by referring to him as simply "Sergeant."
  • Auto Erotica
  • The Baby Trap: A central point of the film. The cadets are clearly warned about how the local women want to marry an officer to escape their blue-collar lives, and aren't afraid of using The Baby Trap to do so.
    "Sergeant Foley, can't you see,
    A Puget Deb is after me!
    Please don't let 'em catch my tail,
    I'd be better off in the country jail!
    My mom was a deb, my grandma too;
    That's all them gals know how to do!"
    • Subverted when Lynette fakes being pregnant so that Sid will marry her. She confesses to the hoax when he resigns from the Navy to do so, which she didn't want.
  • Bar Brawl: Subverted. Despite the obvious tensions, the brawl doesn't happen until everyone is outside, and it ends after one well-timed roundhouse kick.
  • Bowdlerise: Sgt. Foley's cadence during the cadets' training ("...Puget debs...") was dubbed over an earlier real-life Marine cadence about napalming children. However, this is averted in most of the UK Channel 4/More4 airings of the film while they currently have the rights; the "napalm sticks to kids" variant is retained. (in 2013)
  • California Doubling: Averted. The Navy wouldn't allow shooting at Pensacola, so shooting was done at an abandoned airbase in Washington State. So nothing was done to make anyone believe they were anywhere other than Washington, including the renaming of the Real Life "Mobile Debs" to "Puget Debs" (after the Puget Sound). Then again, trying to make Washington look like Florida would just have been silly.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable)
  • The Determinator: Casey Seeger, who forgoes weekend leave just to do more exercises so she can pass the obstacle course.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Played to perfection by Louis Gossett Jr.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sid Worley, who drops out of the program despite nearly finishing because he believes his girl Lynette is pregnant. When she tells him it was a lie and she doesn't want to marry a non-airman, he hangs himself in a motel shower stall.
  • Gold Digger: Lynette. If you had any doubt, you'll know it when Sid proposes and she starts acting like she won the lottery.
  • Good Ol' Boy: Sid.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Averted when Zack fights Sgt. Foley after Sid's suicide. While Zack is a skilled fighter who learned streetwise fisticuffs, Foley — the self-defense instructor with kung fu expertise — eventually defeats him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Casey Seeger. You get the feeling that if the camera were to ignore Zack Mayo and start following her around, the movie would be just as entertaining.
    "Look over there... look at her. She decided to stay, instead of taking liberty on this weekend. She may not make it throught the program, but she's got more heart and character than you will ever have! And stop eyeballing me, boy!"
  • Hoist By Her Own Petard: Lynette's baby hoax results in Sid dropping out of the program, thus defeating her scheme of marrying an aviator.
  • Honor Before Reason: Arguably, Sid Worley, who drops out of the program with only two weeks remaining when he thinks Lynette is pregnant with his child.
  • Karma Houdini: Sid's girlfriend, Lynette. She lies to Sid about being pregnant, setting off a chain of events that leads to Sid's suicide. Yet by the end of the movie, she appears no worse for wear, whose only repercussion is to cheer Paula as she's being carried off in Zack's arms.
    • Subverted since Lynette's cheer of Paula in the end is bittersweet as she realizes that she is never leaving her dismal factory life.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Paula confesses to Zack that she loves him because he reminds her of her biological father, a Navy aviator.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin
  • Military Academy
  • Military Brat: Zack Mayo and Sid Worley.
  • The Musical: Coming next November, in Japan, staged by the Takarazuka.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Sid is driven to succeed for the sake of his older brother, who was killed in combat.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Played mildly when Casey, in her final run of the obstacle course, still can't make the rope-climb wall she needs to pass the test. Zack abandons his attempt at breaking the course record to return and yell encouragement at her until she climbs it.
  • Parental Abandonment: When Zack moves in with his father in the Philippines after his mother's death, his Dad explicitly tells him that he won't "do the daddy stuff" and leaves Zack to raise himself above a brothel.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Foley delivers literally all of his dialogue this way.
  • Scary Black Man: Sgt. Foley, part and parcel of his Drill Sergeant Nasty role.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Foley.
  • The Scrounger: Zack, who does a brisk business selling polished boots and belt buckles for his comrades to pass inspection.
    "Wave good-bye to your buddies, Mayonnaise! Oh, I forgot. You don't have any buddies, do you? Only customers!"
  • The Squadette: Casey Seeger, the only woman in Zack's class of candidates.
  • Training from Hell: Zack gets this personally from Sgt. Foley after he's busted for selling inspection-approved boots and buckles.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Casey, who wants to be the first female naval aviator and win the approval of her father. She gets a Heroic BSOD when Sgt. Foley exposes her weakness and taunts her for it.
    "You're one of those girls who couldn't get enough of daddy's attention because he really wanted a son!"

RagtimeAcademy Award for Best Original SongTootsie
The Odd CoupleCreator/ParamountOrdinary People
The New York RipperFilms of the 1980sParasite
MulanMilitary and Warfare FilmsOne Of Our Aircraft Is Missing

alternative title(s): An Officer And A Gentleman
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