Tuesday, December 6, 2011
FEW GOOD MEN, A
(December 1992, U.S.)
You may recall sometime in my blog past when I told you that I had this rather pathetic weakness for MOST of Tom Cruise's films (who could possibly be expected to sit through crap like COCKTAIL and FAR AND AWAY??). Well, if I have to weigh that guilty pleasure against a film where dialogue is truly key, then Rob Reiner's A FEW GOOD MEN comes in as one of the top few where I really get unavoidably sucked into just about everything that comes out of Cruise's mouth. Does he deserve all the credit for that or should the proper just dues go to the screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote the original play.
Take a moment to look back at the 1980s and I'd be willing to bet there wasn't a time you couldn't remember hearing the line, "E.T. phone home." Well, now look back at the 1990s and I'll bet there wasn't a time you weren't hearing Jack Nicholson's voice in your head saying, "You can't handle the truth!". Yes, famous movie dialogue has a funny way of sticking to your conscience and our pop culture, in general.
This courtroom drama steps out of the traditional crime and punishment tale and goes right for the throat, revolving around the trial of two rather fanatical U.S. Marines (Lance Corporal Harold Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey) charged with the murder of fellow Marine William Santiago and the tribulations of their lawyer Danny Kaffee (played by Cruise) as he prepares a case to defend his clients with the help of Naval investigator and lawyer Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway (played by Demi Moore). And of course, there's the great Jack Nicholson playing Col. Nathan R. Jessep. Nicholson's role in this film is minimal, but the dialogue and performance he gives us is more than enough to sustain our appetites for the style of acting we've come to expect from him over the years. Danny Kaffee's character, while intruiging, energetic and compelling, is highly predictable and quite cliche in that he's the type of protaganist who seemingly can't do the job right or simply doesn't care enough to even try. Of course, as he probes further into the facts of the case (how many times do we get to hear the words "Code Red" in this film?) and those around him push him further, he'll come to not only care about his sacred profession as a lawyer, but will also (hopefully) win the big case and all will be well with the world. Victory, though, will only come by chance of circumstance in that he'll have to provoke Col. Jessup to the point of his own (proud) admission that it was HE who ordered the "Code Red" which lead to the involuntary manslaugher of William Santiago. Oops, did I just give it all away?
Geez, I've said a lot of character names in this post! But then again, watch A FEW GOOD MEN and you'll hear that many of the key character names are repeated again, and again, and again. That's the truth! Can you handle it?
Favorite line or dialogue:
Col. Nathan Jessup: "You have to ask me nicely! You see Danny, I can deal with the bullets, and the bombs, and the blood. I don't want money, and I don't want medals. What I do want is for you to stand there in that faggoty white uniform and with your Harvard mouth extend me some fucking courtesy! You gotta ask me nicely!"
Man, that kind of talk is so JACK!