IT is one of the most iconic romantic scenes in film history and a memorable moment of ’80s film-making.
But the famous ending of An Officer And A Gentleman, where Richard Gere’s character, in full military uniform, marches into his girlfriend’s factory workplace and sweeps her off her feet, almost never made the final cut.
Writer Douglas Day Stewart, in Scotland to talk about a new stage musical version of the film, revealed it was a special song that saved the day.
“I had been around for the entire shoot but when it came to the point when they were filming the ending, my nine-year-old son was sick,” explained Douglas.
“I returned just in time for the final filming and I asked the director, Taylor Hackford, why they weren’t doing it the way I wrote it and he said, ‘Well, who would believe that?’.
“But I asked him to shoot it anyway, which he did.
“In post-production, everyone debated that my ending didn’t work and when they cut it all together, everyone laughed.
“But then Taylor put the famous song, Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, over it.
“Richard Gere, who I became close friends with, and I were in Toronto when that version of the film was shown to an audience and they went crazy. We realised then that it worked.”
With music playing such a crucial role in the 1982 classic, it seems appropriate that new life is being breathed into the story thanks to a musical adaptation.
Along with Up Where We Belong, other ’80s classics like Alone, Don’t Cry Out Loud, You’re The Voice, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Heart Of Glass, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl feature in the new stage production.
“It’s like a rebirth,” smiled Douglas, whose other writing credits include The Blue Lagoon and The Boy In The Plastic Bubble.
“The story has never left the culture, it just plays and plays, but my daughter is a millennial and that era don’t quite know it the same.
“So I thought I would get the under-30s in with this musical, which I think young people will enjoy as well as fans of the film.”
The plot follows Richard Gere’s character, Zack Mayo, who enrols in a boot camp to become a US Navy pilot.
With too much of a swagger, drill sergeant Foley (an Oscar-winning turn from Louis Gossett Jr) makes life hard for him.
When Zack falls for local girl Paula Pokrifki (Debra Winger in the film version) and tragedy befalls his friend and fellow candidate, Sid, he realises the importance of love and friendship and finds the courage to be himself and win the heart of the woman he loves.
The story is firmly entrenched in Douglas’s real-life experiences.
“I think I always knew I wanted to write this story and the success of Blue Lagoon and The Boy In The Plastic Bubble gave me a chance to do so,” he continued.
“No studio wanted it, but then there was a writers’ strike and Paramount threw this script into the mix and it was made.
“A lot of my own story is in the film.
“I went to officer candidate school and nothing had more impact on my life than that 13-week experience.
“I had a tough drill instructor, I dated a girl from the factory, I went to her home for dinner and her father just stared at me, and I had a very close friend expected to be number one in the class and he ended up failing, so I lived all of those elements. My tour of duty was only three-and-a-half years, but I carried it with me and it’s in my blood. And it was good training for facing up to the tough guys in Hollywood!”
Douglas, who has Scottish ancestry, revealed he has also written the script for a movie sequel to An Officer And A Gentleman.
“It’s been on the back burner, but I think it is as good, if not better, than the original,” he added.
“The story is about the daughter of Zack and Paula, who has to get past her father, who knows a secret about her that she failed to tell the navy, and she also has a love story with a factory guy.
“It embraces the original.”
An Officer And A Gentleman, Edinburgh Playhouse, July 2-7