An Officer And A Gentleman

I got no where else to go!

From An Officer And A Gentleman 1982

The movie ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ was a fine example of a romantic drama based around the story of Zachary ‘Zack’ Mayo, (Richard Gere) an aspiring United States Navy aviation officer. After graduating from college Zack reveals to his father that he wishes to pursue a career in the U.S. Navy. Zack, who has been living with his father since his mother committed suicide, understandably has a lot of repressed anger towards his father, whose arrogant and womanizing presence has left him feeling unappreciated as a son.

However, once Zack arrives at the 13-week Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), he encounters the strict and aggressive drill instructor, Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.) who seems to take an instant dislike to Zack, and gives him the nickname “Mayonnaise”. Yet, as the film progresses you come to realise that his ruthless treatment of Zack is carried out to try and mould him into the perfect officer candidate which Foley sees deep within him. Indeed, Zack starts out his training being quite self obsessed which, is not an ideal trait for an officer candidate.

In the AOCS, Zack also becomes friends with another trainee called Sid Worley (David Keith), who has family ties with the Navy. Together Zack and Sid meet two local girls at the Navy dance called Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger) and Lynette Pomeroy (Lisa Blount). Ignoring the advice of Foley who warns the officer candidates that most of the local girls try to bed the officer candidates to secure a marriage, it isn’t long before Sid, Randy and Lynette and Zack and Paula are together. However, while Lynette sees Sid as a way out, Paula seems to really fall for Zack and their relationship becomes strained by his unwillingness to open up to her about his past like a poor car insurance claim after a wrecked life.

Eventually Zack does open up to Paula about his mother’s suicide and this creates a formidable bond between them that is evident in the film. Yet, as it emerges that Sid has a girlfriend back home, who he planned to propose to when he returned home, and that Lynette might be pregnant, the stress of the training gets to him and he suffers from an anxiety attack. In a heart to heart with his friend Zack, Sid explains how he only joined the AOCS to please his family and decides to drop out of the training programme. Sid then goes on to propose to Lynette, who reveals she was never pregnant and only went out with him because she wanted to marry a Naval Aviation Officer. This tragically leads Sid to commit suicide which brings up all Zack’s repressed anger which he directs towards Foley who he blames for Sid’s death.

While this leads both Mayo and Foley to battle it out in an unofficial martial arts fight, the anger built up inside Mayo is finally released and he goes on to graduate from AOCS. After the fight, the relationship between both Mayo and Foley is redefined and Mayo and Foley seem to have discovered a mutual respect for each other which is shared in quite a moving salute. In a spectacular ending, Zack rushes to the factory where Paula and Lynette work, and in a show of his love for her, scoops up Paula in his arms and walks out to the applause of her friends and the song ‘Up Where We Belong’.

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