An Officer and A Gentleman

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Excerpt 1  from An Officer and A Gentleman

The Story

Richard Gere plays Zack Mayo, an aloof, taciturn man who aspires to be a navy pilot. Once he’s arrived at training camp for his 13-week officer’s course, Mayo runs afoul of abrasive, no-nonsense drill sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.).

Mayo –or “Mayon­naise,” as he is dubbed by the iras­cible Foley — is an excel­lent cadet, but a little cold around the heart. Foley rides Mayo merci­lessly, sensing that the young man would be prime officer material if he weren’t so self-involved. Zack’s affair with working girl Paula Pokrifi (Debra Winger) is like­wise comprom­ised by his unwill­ing­ness to give of himself. Only after Mayo’s best friend Sid Worsley (David Keith) commits suicide over an unhappy romance does Zack come out of his shell and mature into a real human being.

(by Hal Erickson, Rotten Toma­toes)

Extract 1 – Act 1

The first extract begins with Zack in a hotel bedroom after a wild night of celeb­rating his gradu­ation. In flash­back, we see his early child­hood and diffi­cult rela­tion­ship with Byron, his father. He tells Byron that he has applied to become a navy pilot. The extract ends with the inciting incident: Zack’s arrival at boot camp.

Extract 2 – Act 2

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Excerpt 2  from An Officer and A Gentleman

The second extract is taken from near the begin­ning of Act 2 and an added complic­a­tion to the storyline. It is also the first major reversal of the prot­ag­onist in pursuit of his goals. Zack is busted by Foley for black market­eering and put through a punishing weekend of drilling to force him to resign. Zack refuses but is only saved from being kicked off by the inter­ven­tion of Sid and Paula at a crucial moment. The repentant Zack gives away his ‘goods’ to the same recruit he had earlier refused.

Extract 3 – Act 3

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Excerpt 3  from An Officer and A Gentleman

The third extract follows on from the crisis at the end of Act 2 (Sid’s suicide) and shows Zack threat­ening to leave the program and chal­len­ging Foley to a fight. In the resol­u­tion of this crisis, Zack reverses again; he sucess­fully gradu­ates as an officer and reclaims Paula as his love.

Next you should read

A struc­tural analysis of An Officer and A Gentleman (PDF) that discusses its themes, char­ac­ters and act climaxes.

“An Officer and A Gentleman” – Complete script (PDF)


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