An Officer and a Gentleman deserves a 21-gun salute, maybe 42. Rarely does a film come along with so many finely-drawn characters to care about.
Officer belongs to Louis Gossett Jr, who takes a near-cliche role of the tough, unrelenting drill instructor and makes him a sympathetic hero without ever softening a whit.
The title refers to the official reward awaiting those willing to endure 13 weeks of agony in Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School, whose initial aim – via Gossett – is to wash out as many hopefuls as possible before letting the best move on to flight training.
Pic is a bit muddled, via flashback, in setting up Richard Gere’s motives for going into the training. Suffice to say he did not enjoy a model childhood. On leave, Gere meets Debra Winger, one of the local girls laboring at a paper mill and hoping for a knight in naval officer’s uniform to rescue her from a life of drudgery. It’s another fetching little slut role for Winger and she makes the most of it.
A secondary romance involves Gere’s friend and fellow candidate (David Keith), who takes a tumble for Winger’s friend (Lisa Blount), another slut but not so fetching.
1982: Best Supp. Actor (Louis Gossett Jr), Original Song (‘Up Where We Belong’).
Nominations: Best Actress (Debra Winger), Original Screenplay, Editing, Original Score, Original Song (‘Up Where We Belong’)