In yet another lawsuit filed against a successful pic, a few not-so-good Marines have charged the makers of “A Few Good Men” with pilfering their true story of hazing a young recruit.
Five ex-Marines have filed suit in Texas State Court against Castle Rock Entertainment and other Hollywood companies linked to the boffo pic. The suit claims that “A Few Good Men” scribe Aaron Sorkin took the idea for his hit play and film from a real incident in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1986.
Attorney Gary Patterson said his clients — former Marines Kevin Palermo, Ronald Peterson Jr., Brett Bentley, Dennis Snyder and Christopher Lee Valdez — were arrested and charged in a military court martial proceeding for the hazing of a soldier in a storyline remarkably similar to Sorkin’s scripts.
In the film and the play, the story follows a trial of two Marines charged with committing a “code red,” or hazing, of a fellow Marine who had broken the unnofficial code of silence or loyalty.
According to the suit, Sorkin’s sister, Lt. Debra Sorkin, defended one of the Marines in court and later told her brother about the case.
The case is one of several other current suits claiming that hot B.O. pix stole stories.
The family of an attorney who died of AIDS filed suit a few weeks ago against “Philadelphia,” arguing that the pic was about him, all the way down to the fact that he liked opera.
Thesp Bette Midler has been ensconced in a Los Angeles Superior Court for the last week, defending “For the Boys” against charges that it was based exclusively on the life of singer-comedienne Martha Raye.
One architect even filed a suit in U.S. District Court in Central California late last year, claiming that his life was the basis for the film “Fearless,” which charted the post-traumatic stress of a plane-crash victim. Never mind that the plaintiff was never involved in a plane crash.
In each case, plaintiffs argue that the pix often borrowed even the smallest details. In the “Few Good Men” case, Patterson claimed the detail of the rag that was soaked in gasoline and stuffed down the Marine’s throat was taken directly from the original court-martial trial.
He also claimed the pic exaggerated the situation. Unlike the Marine in the pic, the real-life grunt did not die from the hazing ritual.
Patterson said the ex-Marine plaintiffs were asking for some $ 10 mil in damages from Castle Rock.
“The profits made from this movie and subsequent video rentals (are) mind-boggling,” said the suit. “However, plaintiffs did not give permission to defendants to make public what is a very private event.”
A spokesman for the indie had no comment.
Patterson said at least five other Marines who were charged with the hazing incident are not part of the suit, including the Marine private who was beaten up.
In addition to Castle Rock, other defendants named include Rock founders Andrew Scheinman, Martin Shafer, Glenn Padnick, Alan Horn and (pic’s director) Rob Reiner, playwright Sorkin, Columbia Pictures, New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony USA, TriStar Film Distributors, Col Home Video and Triumph Releasing Corp.