Marine recruits endure the grueling ordeal of basic training and later face the unrelenting Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet Offensive in this grim drama. One of the most authentic depictions of warfare ever put on the big screen, the film teems with howling madness, stark images and troubling questions about duty, honor and sacrifice.
Pvt. J.T. 'Joker' Davis
Pvt. Leonard 'Gomer Pyle' Lawrence
Gny. Sgt. Hartman
Mickey Mouse is referred to at the end of both segments: when Hartmann enters the head to confront Joker and Pyle, he cries "What is this Mickey Mouse shit?" ("Mickey Mouse" was GI slang for something - or someone - that was petty, stupid and senseless); and Joker and company sing the theme from The Mickey Mouse Club as they march through the burning city. A third Mickey Mouse reference is in the press room: a Mickey Mouse figure can be seen near the window behind Pvt. Joker.
Arnold Schwarzenegger turned down the role of Animal Mother in order to star in The Running Man.
If you pay attention to Joker's uniform collar throughout the movie, you'll notice that he starts out as a Private and by then end of the movie he is a Sergeant.
For the final battle of Hue, 200 pine trees were imported from Spain and a few thousand tropical plastic plants were imported from Hong Kong. Plastic trees had previously been flown in from California, but upon seeing them, Stanley Kubrick reportedly said: "I don't like it. Get rid of it."
The Vietnam sequences of the film were shot first, the Parris Island scenes second. The graduation of the recruits was the last scene shot.
The banner at the wall in the conference room at the Da Nang base reads: "First to go last to know - We will defend to the death your right to be misinformed".
His shirt on Parris Island reveals that Pvt. Joker's real name is J.T. Davis. This is a deliberate reference to Spec. James T. Davis, the first officially recognized U.S. casualty in Vietnam, who was killed in 1961.
Advertisements for this film were censored in some parts of Canada due to the tagline "In Vietnam the wind doesn't blow, it sucks." At that time, Canadian censors had not yet decided whether the phrase "it sucks" (or "this sucks") was obscene.
Much, if not all, of R. Lee Ermey's dialogue during the Paris Island sequence was improvised. While filming the opening scene, where he disciplines Pvt. Cowboy, he says Cowboy is the type of guy who would have sex with another guy "and not even have the goddamned common courtesy to give him a reach-around". Stanley Kubrick immediately yelled cut and went over to Ermey and asked, "What the hell is a reach-around?" Ermey politely explained what it meant. Kubrick laughed and re-shot the scene, telling Ermey to keep the line.
Production budget - $30,000,000
Domestic gross - $46,357,676 (23rd)
Domestic adjusted for 2013 - $96,746,454
Other production companies:
Columbia-Cannon-Warner (UK distributor)
Norfolk Broads, Norfolk, England
Bassingbourn Barracks, Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England
Beckton Gasworks, Beckton, London, England
Epping Forest, Essex, England
Isle of Dogs, London, England
Parris Island, South Carolina
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England
RAF Swinderby, Swinderby, Linconshire, England
1. Born to Kill.
2. An Epic Story of the Vietnam War.
3. In Vietnam The Wind Doesn't Blow It Sucks.
4. One rifle, one gun. One for killing, one for fun.
5. Vietnam can kill me, but it can't make me care.
6. Acclaimed by critics as the best war movie ever mad.
Written by Tom T. Hall
Performed by Johnny Wright
These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Written by Lee Hazlewood
Performed by Nancy Sinatra
Written by Domingo Samudio
Performed by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs
The Marines Hymn
Music by Jacques Offenbach from "Geneviève de Brabant"
Performed by The Goldman Band
Chapel Of Love
Written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector
Performed by The Dixie Cups
Written by A. Frazier, C. White, T. Wilson Jr. and J. Harris
Performed by The Trashmen
Paint It, Black
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Performed by The Rolling Stones
Mickey Mouse Club March
Written by Jimmie Dodd
Academy Awards Nomination:
1. Adapted Screenplay