An Officer and a Gentleman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the film has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not a shining transfer, the picture seemed to replicate the source material well.
Sharpness appeared good. Only a little softness ever cropped up via some wider shots. Otherwise, the film demonstrated good clarity and definition. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed minimal. The same went for source flaws. Other than a little grain, the movie looked clean. I saw almost no specks, marks or other distractions along the way.
Colors looked adequate to good. Officer didn’t use a bright palette and the image reproduced the low-key hues with appropriate clarity. A few brighter shots looked nice, and the tones remained fine without the design situation.
Black levels appeared acceptably deep and dark, but shadow detail could come across as a little flawed, especially when we saw Foley. During his commentary, director Taylor Hackford discussed the challenges involved in lighting Gossett, and I guess he never worked these out satisfactorily. When Gossett or any other African-American actor appeared, they seemed a little hard to discern; the lighting just didn’t get to their faces as well as I’d like.
I debated my grade for Officer since in truth, it didn’t look as good as I’d normally expect for a “B+” image. However, the vast majority of my complaints related to the source footage. Officer was never a great-looking movie, and this transfer did about as much with the material as it could. Indeed, it looked better than I expected, so I felt the result deserved the “B+”.
In addition to the movie’s original monaural soundtrack, this DVD included a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix. As a character-driven romantic drama, the expanded soundfield didn’t really need to do much, but it added decent ambience to the affair. For instance, during the scene in which Foley first meets the trainees, helicopters and jets provided a good sense of place in the rear speakers. The front channels also offered nice movement and delineation. The effects were clear and accurate throughout the movie.
Without question, music benefited the most from this new remix. The songs and score demonstrated good stereo imaging, and those elements sounded great. The rock-driven pieces were lively and full. Bass response seemed good, and the music packed a nice punch. In addition, speech was concise and crisp, with no edginess or intelligibility issues. At times the lines appeared a little thin and dated, but they were fine given their age. I liked this remix quite a lot, and I thought it earned a solid “B+”, mostly due to the excellent quality of the music.
How did the picture and sound of this new 2007 special edition compare to those of the original 2000 release? Both offered significant improvements. Normally I don’t prefer 5.1 remixes to original soundtrack, but this DVD’s Dolby Digital audio worked so well that I thought it offered a great step up when compared to the old mono piece.
The visuals also seemed improved. The new DVD looked sharper along with clearer shadows, fewer defects and more natural colors. Though the new transfer still suffered from the limitations of the source material, it presented a pretty good image.
The 2007 special edition greatly expands the old release’s extras. That set included only a trailer and a running, screen-specific audio commentary from director Taylor Hackford. The same chat pops up here. The director has a lot to say and he maintains a consistently engaging presence. Hackford chats about the story’s path to the screen and his involvement in its, cast and characters, performances and working with the actors, locations and sets, music, editing, and a mix of other production topics.
Frankly, I enjoyed his commentary for Officer more than I liked the film itself. Hackford delves into a lot of details about the production and he’s not afraid to state his feelings; you know this’ll be a good track when he gently slams Michael Eisner about two minutes into the thing. He even alludes to problems experienced with Winger, and though he doesn’t dish any real dirt, the honesty level is very high when compared to the “I love everybody” world of most audio commentaries. How often do you hear a director refer to his leading lady as “a difficult human being”? Fans of the film will definitely enjoy the extra perspective he adds about Officer. It’s an excellent commentary that kept me consistently engaged.
All of the rest of the extras are exclusive to this DVD, though it drops the trailer from the old disc. We get a series of featurettes. An Officer and a Gentleman: 25 Years Later runs 28 minutes, three seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Hackford, writer/associate producer Douglas Day Stewart, and actors Richard Gere, Louis Gossett, Jr., David Caruso, Lisa Eilbacher, Tony Plana, Harold Sylvester, and David Keith. “Later” looks at the script and path to the screen, casting and performances, the movie’s depiction of sex, production pressures and Hackford’s work with the actors, a few scene specifics such as dealing with the iconic ending, and the flick’s reception.
Since Hackford tells us so much in his commentary, it becomes inevitable that repetition will occur here. Nonetheless, we get a fair amount of fresh information, largely due to the presence of the additional participants. They offer their own perspectives and help make “Later” an involving and interesting piece.
For the second featurette, we find the 12-minute and 18-second Return to Port Townsend. It shows Gossett as he leads us on a tour of the original movie locations. We also get comments from Gere, Hackford, Keith, Stewart, Sylvester, Port Townsend Film Festival director Peter Simpson, resident Barbara Bogart, extra Lowell Bogart, film fan Donna Corey, and former Port Townsend mayor Brent Shirley. We check out the locations today and learn a fair amount about them. This turns into another tight, informative program.
True Stories of Military Romance lasts seven minutes, nine seconds. It features remarks from Stewart, US Navy Ensign Glenn Greenleaf and wife Wendy, author Sarah Smiley and naval aviator husband Dustin. I feared “Stories” would subject us to simple mush, but it actually offers a decent look at the ups and downs of military couples. That helps make it useful.
Next comes the nine-minute and 14-second The Music of An Officer and a Gentleman. It offers statements from Hackford, Paramount Music VP (1980-81) Joel Sill, composer’s son Jack Nitzsche Jr., music producer Stewart Levine and lyricist Will Jennings. We get notes about the score and the movie’s hit song. The featurette provides a good take on musical issues as it throws out a mix of nice elements, with a particular emphasis on “Up Where We Belong”. It’s too bad neither of the singers appears here, but I still like the program.
Called Gere and Gossett: Hand to Hand Combat, the final featurette fills three minutes, 17 seconds. We hear from Gossett and Gere as they discuss their fight scene and other aspects of the shoot. It’s too short to be terribly valuable, but it adds a few good bits.
A Photo Gallery also appears. 83 shots appear. These mix movie images and behind the scenes pictures to create a pretty good little set.
I wasn’t wild about An Officer and a Gentleman, but after 25 years, it remains a pretty solid piece of entertainment. The movie combines romance with the rigors of officer training school nicely and should appeal to a wide audience. The DVD presents very good picture and audio along with a consistently interesting and informative collection of extras.
Officer makes for a good “date night” movie, and this special edition DVD is the one to own. That goes for anyone who already possesses the old DVD from 2000, as the SE is an excellent upgrade. In addition to some good new extras, the DVD makes the flick look and sound better than ever. Add to that a very reasonable list price of less than $15 and the Officer SE is a real winner.