Richard Gere as a sensitive, traumatized hustler who joins the navy's flight school and becomes a man. Taylor Hackford's 1982 film is an awesomely, stiflingly professional piece of work, with a fleet, superficial visual style, perfectly placed climaxes, and a screenplay (by Douglas Day Stewart) that doesn't waste a single character or situation—everything is functional, and nothing but functional. Treating the military as a kind of down-and-dirty graduate est seminar, Hackford has his moral lessons hammered (by tough sergeant Louis Gossett Jr.) into the head of his protagonist; it's self-torture as self-improvement, in the finest American puritan tradition. Debra Winger plays the local girl with whom Gere has an elevating affair; David Keith is Gere's flawed best friend, who is offed by the screenplay so Gere can achieve his final breakthrough. With Robert Loggia.
By Dave Kehr