A Few Good Men – tape 1793

I must have completely cocked up the timing if this recording. It starts in the middle of the Damon Wayans movie Mo Money, and there’s a whole hour of that film at the start. Maybe the clocks had changed.

Then, the main feature, A Few Good Men, Rob Reiner’s film based on Aaron Sorkin’s stage play.

It’s a courtroom drama, concerning the death of a young marine after some sort of ‘hazing’ by other marines on Guantanamo Bay.

Demi Moore is a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s office who has looked at the case, and thinks it looks like a ‘code red’ situation. She pushes for the case, but doesn’t get it, presumably because if it’s a code red, that means terrible publicity, but if it’s just two rogue marines, that’s business as usual.

Demi Moore

So they assign young hotshot lawyer Tom Cruise, considered the best litigator in his department. As his co-counsel Kevin Pollack tells her “he’s successfully plea-bargained 44 cases in nine months.”

Tom Cruise

We then see some events from before the murder. Commanding officer Nathan Jessup is Jack Nicholson.

Jack Nicholson

Also on his staff is Executive Officer JT Walsh

JT Walsh

and younger officer Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland

Walsh wants to transfer Santiago, the young marine, off the base. But Nicholson thinks that’s a failure of the marine corp, and orders Sutherland to ‘train’ Santiago.

There’s a small role for The West Wing’s Joshua Malina as a young officer on Nicholson’s staff.

Joshua Malina

Kevin Bacon is the prosecuting officer, who wants to plea-bargain down to exactly the result that Cruise told Moore he would get. But now, having talked to the two marines, Cruise thinks there’s something deeper, that the two marines were ordered to assault Santiago by a senior officer.

Kevin Bacon

The travel to Guantanamo Bay to talk to Nicholson, who now claims that Santiago was due to be transferred. And Walsh suddenly vanishes.

The marines tell Cruise that they were ordered to perform a ‘code red’ on Santiago by Sutherland. They were given an order, they followed it, with no intent to kill him. Cruise is persuaded not to settle the case. His epiphany takes place in a bar, where there’s a cameo from writer Aaron Sorkin.

Aaron Sorkin

Cuba Gooding Jr pops up as a witness in the court case.

Cuba Gooding Jr

Also a witness is Christopher Guest as the doctor who testifies that Santiago must have been poisoned.

Christopher Guest

And Noah Wyle (from ER) is also a witness.

Noah Wyle

Finally, the whole film heads towards Nicholson taking the stand and Tom Cruise cross-examining him. He’s taking a huge chance, because accusing a senior officer without evidence would make him liable for court martial himself.

This is the heart of the film, and while Cruise is good, Nicholson is magnificent. Too often, he seems to be playing a thinly veiled version of himself in movies, but here he’s utterly the hard military man, convinced of the moral certainties he fights for, and convinced his orders were entirely justified. The “You can’t handle the truth” moment is the famous one, but his entire speech is brilliant, and perfectly delivered.

After this, there’s the start of another movie, You Talkin’ To Me? No, I haven’t heard of it either. Starring Jim Youngs. No, me neither.

Oh good grief, it actually starts with someone watching Taxi Driver, except it’s not De Niro do the titular scene. And then the film breaks in the projector.

It turns out this is a film about an aspiring New York actor trying to break in to Hollywood, without much success. The tape ends after about 35 minutes of this film.

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One comment

  1. I did see “You Talkin’ To Me,” alas. In Barbados on a double bill with “Rain Man,” of all things (due to both an apparent policy of pairing movies from the same distributors (United Artists via UIP as was, in this case).

    “Premiere” interviewed Rob Reiner when this came out, and they published a couple of frothing letters from some very right-leaning readers with the kind of mentalities that would not look out of place in “The Daily Mail.” Depressing.

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