- Directors: Taylor Hackford
- Producers: Martin Elfand, Douglas Day Stewart
- Writers: Douglas Day Stewart
- Genres: Drama, Romance
- Actors: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Louis Gossett Jr, David Keith, Robert Loggia
The film begins with Zachary “Zack” Mayo (Richard Gere) receiving a college graduation present from his father Byron (Robert Loggia), a brash, womanizing U.S. Navy Boatswain’s Mate formerly stationed at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Mayo moved in with his father there in early adolescence when his mother committed suicide. Aloof and taciturn with repressed anger at his mother’s suicide and his father’s inability to properly parent him, Mayo surprises his father when he announces his aspiration to be a Navy pilot.
Once he arrives at the 13-week long Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), Mayo runs afoul of abrasive, no-nonsense drill instructor, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (Louis Gossett, Jr.). Mayo â€” or “Mayonnaise” as he is dubbed by the irascible Foley â€” is an excellent officer candidate, but not a team player. Foley rides Mayo mercilessly, sensing the young man would be prime officer material if he were not so self-involved. Zack becomes friends with fellow trainee Sid Worley (David Keith), from the “good side of the tracks”, whose father and late brother were Naval officers. Another focus is female recruit Casey Seeger (Lisa Eilbacher), whose name is pronounced like Bob Seger but whom Foley calls “See-GAR”, who is unable to get over a wall with a rope in the obstacle course, and endures her own barrage of pressure from Foley.
In the iconic final scene of the film, the new Ensign Mayo goes to the factory where Paula works, picks her up and walks out holding her in his arms. Lynette watches bitterly at first, knowing her own manipulations have left her alone in the end, but then applauds her friend along with the rest of the factory workers & shouts “Way to go Paula”.