Zack Mayo (Richard Gere – Sommersby, Chicago) is a loner whose father is a career army man. Since he was young Zack dreamed of becoming a pilot. The only way he has a chance of realizing this dream is for him to enlist and train to become a Navy pilot. Boot camp turns out to be the longest twelve weeks of his life. The drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett Jr. – Diggstown, Iron Eagle), cuts the young man no slack and seems to ride him harder than he does the other trainees. The only relaxation that Zack and his new friend, Sid Worley (David Keith – Daredevil, Behind Enemy Lines), get is when they go into town on their nights off. On one of these excursions both Zack and Sid meet women with whom they become involved with. This is despite the warnings from Foley about townies who are desperate to ensnare Navy pilots.
Despite all the walls that Zack has put up Paula (Debra Winger – Forget Paris, Terms of Endearment) gets through to him. Sid and Lynette (Lisa Blount – Great Balls of Fire!, Prince of Darkness) become quite close, but the fact that he is engaged to a woman back home is a problem. Between boot camp and his feelings for Paula, this is a time of rapid maturation for Zack. He learns all about friendship, love and how to trust people on the road to becoming the man he wants to be.
During the early portion of the 80s this film was ‘the’ romantic film. It also made headlines due to the graphic (for the time) sex scenes between Gere and Winger’s characters. Actually the film is a case of a little bit for both sexes in that women tend to appreciate the romance and men the sex and army stuff. What director Taylor Hackford (Ray, Against All Odds) has created is a timeless romantic movie in that watching it 25 years later it does not seem dated or irrelevant. The acting is good with Gere turning in what is probably his best performance and Louis Gossett Jr. being so good he was rewarded with a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The character of Zack could have easily been a stereotype but Gere adds many different layers to his character. It is touches like this that raise the film from a simple ‘chick flick’ to something that is moving which you can watch over and over again.
-An Officer and an Gentleman: 25 Years Later
-Return to Port Townsend
-True Stories of Military Romance
-The Music of An Officer and a Gentleman
-Gere and Gossett: Hand-to-Hand Combat