Classic Scene: A Few Good Men

You can’t handle the truth!

Tom Cruise is after the truth in today’s Classic Rewatch of A Few Good Men. The 1992 military legal drama sees Cruise as a young and inexperienced military lawyer, Lieutenant (junior grade) Daniel Kaffee, who sets out to bring to justice those responsible for killing a fellow marine. He eventually goes up against Jack Nicholson’s grizzled and intense Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, a career man who thinks Cruise just can’t handle the truth in one of cinemas most explosive and memorable scenes. Expertly directed by Rob Reiner from a razor-sharp Aaron Sorkin script, the film has become known largely due to the “truth scene”, which has been quoted and lampooned endlessly. The film was a smash hit critically, and earned a more than solid $243 million on a $40 million budget and landed itself four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Now, can you handle the truth…?

1) Aaron Sorkin adapted the screenplay from his own stage play of the same name. He was inspired to write the play after a conversation with his sister, a law graduate, who was working with the U.S. Navy Judge office in Guantanamo Bay. She was working with a group of marines, who had nearly killed a new recruit in a hazing ritual, which was supported by a superior officer. Sorkin felt there was something in the story, and would write the screenplay on napkins during his day job as a bartender, eventually transferring it to a Mac when he’d get home.

2) The film was Sorkin’s first screenplay, and says one of his worst Hollywood experiences happened on the film: “There was an executive on the movie who gave me a note: ‘If Tom Cruise and Demi Moore aren’t going to sleep with each other, why is Demi Moore a woman?’ I said the obvious answer: Women have purposes other than to sleep with Tom Cruise.”

3) Nicholson, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, was paid $5 million for what amounted to ten days work. Not that he didn’t earn it, he reportedly performed his long and intense truth monologue up to 50 times.