A Few Good Men premiered on December 11, 1992. The movie follows a team of military lawyers as they dig through tight-lipped ranks of Marines in search of the truth behind a Marine hazing turned homicide. The film would earn Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, eventually winning a People’s Choice Award.
1. Writer Aaron Sorkin based the original play on a real incident involving a Code Red being given and a Marine nearly being killed by the beating. Sorkin’s sister Deborah was going to defend the Marines who had been given the beating.
In the real incident, U.S. Marine David Cox was convicted only of assault and given an honorable discharge. However, years later when he saw A Few Good Men and realized it was based on his own incident, he decided to join a lawsuit against the producers of the movie for unauthorized use of his life. Several months later, however, Cox was shot four times and killed. His murder remains unsolved.
2. The film rights were sold before the play ever premiered. The play ran for nearly 500 performances while on Broadway and boasted names like Tom Hulce, Clark Gregg, Stephen Lang, Bradley Whitford, and Ron Perlman. The play was also performed Off-Broadway with Jensen Ackles, John Barrowman, Michael O’Keefe, Rob Lowe, and Lou Diamond Phillips.
3. A Few Good Men was the first acting job for Wolfgang Bodison (Lance Cpl. Harold Dawson). Bodison wasn’t an actor; he was a location scout and former assistant for director Rob Reiner. Reiner thought he looked like a Marine, so he cast him in the movie. Bodison continues to work as an actor and has appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
4. It was also the first movie for Joshua Malina, a good friend of Sorkin’s. Malina had played PFC Downey in the stage production prior to his role as Colonel Jessup’s clerk in the film.
5. William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride) did a script rewrite that Sorkin liked so much, he incorporated the changes into the stage version’s script.
6. The opening of the film features a Marine Corp drill team. Students from the Texas A&M Corp of Cadets Fish Drill Team portrayed the Marines, as they are consistently ranked first nationally in drill competitions. Fish is slang for freshman in the A&M Cadet program and, interestingly, the Drill Team was formed after the freshman cadets were moved to a different campus to avoid hazing.
7. Tom Cruise (Lt. Daniel Kaffee) and Demi Moore (Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway) had a sex scene in the script, but it was dropped since there was no reason for it.
8. Jodie Foster and Linda Hamilton were also up for the part of Lt. Cdr. Galloway, but Moore was willing to take a pay cut. Her last film had flopped and she needed A Few Good Men to boost her box office back up.
9. Jack Nicholson (Col. Nathan R. Jessup) gave his infamous “You can’t handle the truth” speech 40-50 times so Reiner could film reactions from the other actors from multiple angles.
10. Kiefer Sutherland (Lt. Jonathan Kendrick) was terrible at driving the Humvee he took Cruise, Moore, and Kevin Pollack (Lt. Sam Weinberg) around base. Sutherland accidentally hit several Marines with the wide vehicle as he drove through them as they marched.
11. Cuba Gooding, Jr. makes an appearance in the film, four years before he’d co-star in his break-out hit with Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire.
12. This movie made 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon (Capt. Jack Ross) easier to win. I guess I can’t prove that, but trust me.
NBC will be airing a live version of A Few Good Men in early 2017.
You CAN handle the truth: Aaron Sorkin is bringing 'A Few Good Men' LIVE to NBC in early 2017!— NBC (@nbc) March 30, 2016