When I saw this movie as a young adult, I found it to be a very interesting, sweet, coming of age movie. The movie follows Richard Gere as "Zack Mayo" who joins the Navy and goes through Officer Candidate School. Along the way, he learns the meaning of friendship, discipline, and love.
The beginning has a very poignant episode of flashbacks going back to "Mayo's" childhood, his father's treatment of him, and his harsh upbringing. It is through this upbringing, that you begin to understand why "Mayo" acts the way he does through the first half of the movie.
The friendship between he and David Keith is a special one, one that tests its very meaning. Debra Winger does an excellent job of a local factory girl, looking to find someone special. Along comes the smooth talking, loner "Mayo" who is hell-bent on completing Officer Candidate School without anyone's help. Their chemistry is magical.
Louis Gossett Jr. is the senior drill instructor who tests "Mayo's" committment and perserverance. Gosstt Jr. is "Foley" who's job is to weed out those who don't belong and he does a phenomenal portrayal of that.
Some of my favorite scenes were with Gere and Winger at the "Tides Inn", Gere and Gosset Jr. in the blimp hanger, and the latter half of the film with Gere's changing of character.
This is an excellent movie for anyone who has ever hoped for a better life, a true challenge, and had people who cared for them.