Gardens of Stone (1987)

R | 112 mins | Drama | 8 May 1987

Full page view
HISTORY

Gardens of Stone is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Nicholas Proffitt, based on his experiences as part of the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Third Infantry division stationed at Ft. Myer and Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, the 27 Nov 2006 LAT reported.
       A double page ad in the 16 Nov 1983 Var announced that Redwood Productions had acquired film rights to the book, but nothing came of that.
       Principal photography began on 22 May 1986 in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the 28 May 1986 DV production chart. Filming took place at Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, and Arlington National Cemetery and had the full cooperation of the U.S. Army, the 2 Aug 1986 Washington Post reported. The Army not only made the forts and cemetery available, they also trained the actors portraying soldiers in Army drills and provided an Army band for key scenes. Some 600 real-life soldiers served as extras in various scenes. The film’s budget was $13.5 million, but production officials acknowledged it would have cost $30 million to make without the Army’s help. Lt. Col. John Myers, the Army officer overseeing the film, told the newspaper that no other film had received so much Army assistance since John Wayne’s pro-Vietnam movie The Green Berets (1968, see entry).
       In exchange for its cooperation, the Army demanded and received the right to review the script. Director Francis Coppola told the 3 May 1987 NYT that the Army asked for some foul language to be removed and for some scenes to be reworked ... More Less

Gardens of Stone is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Nicholas Proffitt, based on his experiences as part of the U.S. Army’s Old Guard Third Infantry division stationed at Ft. Myer and Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, the 27 Nov 2006 LAT reported.
       A double page ad in the 16 Nov 1983 Var announced that Redwood Productions had acquired film rights to the book, but nothing came of that.
       Principal photography began on 22 May 1986 in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the 28 May 1986 DV production chart. Filming took place at Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, and Arlington National Cemetery and had the full cooperation of the U.S. Army, the 2 Aug 1986 Washington Post reported. The Army not only made the forts and cemetery available, they also trained the actors portraying soldiers in Army drills and provided an Army band for key scenes. Some 600 real-life soldiers served as extras in various scenes. The film’s budget was $13.5 million, but production officials acknowledged it would have cost $30 million to make without the Army’s help. Lt. Col. John Myers, the Army officer overseeing the film, told the newspaper that no other film had received so much Army assistance since John Wayne’s pro-Vietnam movie The Green Berets (1968, see entry).
       In exchange for its cooperation, the Army demanded and received the right to review the script. Director Francis Coppola told the 3 May 1987 NYT that the Army asked for some foul language to be removed and for some scenes to be reworked to assure technical accuracy with military procedures. The Washington Post reported that a scene in which a wife spits on her husband’s grave, saying she now knew where he would be spending his nights, was cut, as was a scene of an angry sergeant hitting an enlisted man who flunked inspection. Both of those scenes were in the novel.
       Tragedy struck less than a week into production when Francis Coppola’s twenty-two-year-old son, Gian-Carlo Coppola, was killed in a 26 May 1986 boating accident along Chesapeake Bay on the South River near Annapolis, MD. The motorboat in which Gian-Carlo Coppola was riding struck a tow line between two sailboats and Coppola was thrown onto the deck and died of head injuries, the 28 May 1986 LAT reported. Gian-Carlo was training under his father, working as a video camera operator on the film. Roman Coppola, Gian-Carlo’s younger brother, replaced him as the video operator.
       When word of Gian-Carlo’s death reached the set, production officials immediately canceled the next day’s shooting, an elaborate scene involving many extras and helicopter support. However, Francis Coppola insisted that the shoot go on as scheduled. Production continued for another week until Francis Coppola checked himself into DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Belvoir, VA, for exhaustion. As soon as Coppola was out of the hospital, production resumed. The 14 Jan 1987 HR noted the production was shut down for four or five days, but the 2 Aug 1986 Washington Post reported it was just two days.
       Twenty-one-year-old actor Griffin O’Neal, the son of actor Ryan O’Neal and a longtime friend of Gian-Carlo Coppola, was driving the rented motorboat on which Gian-Carlo was a passenger, and was charged on multiple counts in his death. In Dec 1986, O’Neal was convicted of negligent operation of a boat, but found not guilty of a “boat manslaughter” charge, the 28 Feb 1987 LAT reported. O’Neal was given a $200 fine and eighteen months probation.
       Griffin O’Neal was a part of the Gardens of Stone cast, playing the small role of “Wildman,” a soldier whose sloppiness cost his company points during an inspection. Francis Coppola, who had previously worked with O’Neal in the Coppola-produced The Escape Artist (1982, see entry), was impressed with the young actor and personally cast him in the role. The 11 Aug 1986 People magazine reported rumors that Francis Coppola had thrown O’Neal off the set, but producer Fred Roos denied that. Roos said that a week after the accident, O’Neal asked to be released from his contract. Actor Casey Siemaszko replaced him as “Wildman” and scenes O’Neal had filmed were reshot. Toward the end of production, Francis Coppola rewrote the script to include mention that “Wildman” had received a Medal of Honor in Vietnam.
       Producers had originally planned to release the film in Dec 1986 for a week in Los Angeles, CA, in order to qualify for Academy Award consideration, then open the film nationwide over Easter 1987. However, those plans did not materialize.
       Gardens of Stone opened on 612 screens on 8 May 1987, taking in $1.6 million in its first three days of release, according to the 11 May 1987 DV box office report. After a month in release, the film had grossed a total of $5.3 million, the 10 Jun 1987 Var reported.
       End credits state: “Special thanks to the Honor Guards and Bands of all services: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, for their pride and devotion in attending the last call for their fallen comrades at Arlington National Cemetery.”
       End credits also state: “This film is dedicated to the 3rd U.S. Infantry, the Old Guard of the Army, Ft. Myer, Virginia,” and “With the participation of The United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own).”

More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 May 1986.
---
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1987
p. 3, 6.
Daily Variety
11 May 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jan 1987
p. 16, 40.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1987
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1986.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 May 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
27 Nov 2006.
---
New York Times
3 May 1987
p. 19, 34.
New York Times
8 May 1987
p. 32.
People
11 Aug 1986
p. 33.
Variety
16 Nov 1983.
---
Variety
6 May 1987
p. 12, 566.
Variety
10 Jun 1987.
---
Washington Post
2 Aug 1986
Section G, p. 1, 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
A Michael I. Levy Production
From Tri-Star-ML Delphi Premier Productions
From Zoetrope Studios
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Snow seq photog
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Assst to prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst fllm ed
2d asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Paint foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd des
Supv sd ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Sd des asst
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley artist
Addl sd rec
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Mixed at
San Francisco
VISUAL EFFECTS
FX ed
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
West Coast casting
West Coast casting
East Coast casting
Prod coord
Transportation coord
Craft service
Loc mgr
First aid
Librarian
Asst to Mr. Coppola
Asst to Mr. Levy
Asst to Mr. Caan
Unit pub
Local casting
Casting asst
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst prod coord
Defensive coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Video researcher
Video playback
Video playback
Electronic Cinema® in cooperation with
Electronic Cinema staff
Electronic Cinema staff
Electronic Cinema staff
Electronic Cinema staff
Military liaison
Military lisison
Army public affairs
Old guard advisor
Old guard advisor
Old guard advisor
Old guard advisor
Army band advisor
Army band advisor
Army band advisor
Ft. Belvoir advisor
Ft. Belvoir advisor
Ft. Belvoir advisor
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Gardens of Stone by Nicholas Proffitt (New York, 1983).
SONGS
“Break On Through (To The Other Side),” performed by The Doors, courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” performed by Marvin Gaye, courtesy of Motown Record Corporation
“Georgy Girl,” performed by The Seekers, courtesy of EMI Records, Inc.
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 May 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 May 1987
Production Date:
22 May--2 August 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Tri-Star Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 August 1987
Copyright Number:
PA339896
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
112
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28338
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In early 1968 during the Vietnam War, young, idealistic Army specialist Jackie "Jack" Willow is assigned to Fort Myer, Virginia, the United States Army Post adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The Army’s Third Infantry “Old Guard” division oversees the burial ceremonies for the cemetery, which they refer to as the "garden.” Company clerk Pete Deveber tells Jack that fifteen bodies are laid to rest each day. Sergeant Major “Goody” Nelson remarks that the Old Guard is an easy assignment, as all the soldiers do is escort the president and handle burials. The guns they carry do not shoot live ammunition. Jack meets Sergeant Clell Hazard, who fought with Jack's father, Master Sergeant Shelby Willow, in Korea. Clell believes in the Army, describing it as “family,” but he does not believe in the Vietnam War. Clell has had two tours of duty in Vietnam and does not think the Vietnamese people are as peace-loving as the soldiers have been led to believe, commenting that the Vietnamese have been “fighting something for a thousand years and they like it.” Jack asks to be transferred to the front lines of Vietnam, but Clell tells him that Vietnam is different from any previous war because there is no front line. Nonetheless, Jack does well in his assignment at Fort Myer and is promoted to Sergeant. He again asks to be transferred to Vietnam, but the request is denied. Shortly after, Jack’s father dies of a heart attack and Jack is given a week’s leave to attend the funeral. Jack asks Clell to arrange to have his father buried at Arlington. Clell begins dating ... +


In early 1968 during the Vietnam War, young, idealistic Army specialist Jackie "Jack" Willow is assigned to Fort Myer, Virginia, the United States Army Post adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The Army’s Third Infantry “Old Guard” division oversees the burial ceremonies for the cemetery, which they refer to as the "garden.” Company clerk Pete Deveber tells Jack that fifteen bodies are laid to rest each day. Sergeant Major “Goody” Nelson remarks that the Old Guard is an easy assignment, as all the soldiers do is escort the president and handle burials. The guns they carry do not shoot live ammunition. Jack meets Sergeant Clell Hazard, who fought with Jack's father, Master Sergeant Shelby Willow, in Korea. Clell believes in the Army, describing it as “family,” but he does not believe in the Vietnam War. Clell has had two tours of duty in Vietnam and does not think the Vietnamese people are as peace-loving as the soldiers have been led to believe, commenting that the Vietnamese have been “fighting something for a thousand years and they like it.” Jack asks to be transferred to the front lines of Vietnam, but Clell tells him that Vietnam is different from any previous war because there is no front line. Nonetheless, Jack does well in his assignment at Fort Myer and is promoted to Sergeant. He again asks to be transferred to Vietnam, but the request is denied. Shortly after, Jack’s father dies of a heart attack and Jack is given a week’s leave to attend the funeral. Jack asks Clell to arrange to have his father buried at Arlington. Clell begins dating Washington Post reporter Samantha Davis, who does not believe in the war, calling it “genocide.” Nonetheless, they get along well and double date with Goody Nelson and his wife Betty Rae, who works in the office of North Carolina senator Sam Ervin. Clell gets in trouble for voicing his opinion on the war to some of his soldiers. He requests a transfer to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he will train soldiers headed for Vietnam, but Captain Homer Thomas denies the request. By the middle of the year, Old Guard soldiers are “dropping” twenty bodies a day in the “garden.” Jack Willow runs into old girlfriend Rachel Feld, who is now living in Washington because her father has been reassigned to the Pentagon. Jack asks Rachel on a date, then asks Clell to lend him $50 and his car. Over dinner, Jack mentions that he still hopes to be assigned to Vietnam, saying, “A soldier in the right place at the right time can change the world.” Rachel states that she hoped time in the Army would have helped Jack outgrow his unfailing belief in the military. The reason she broke up with him was his gullibility over everything the Army told him. Undeterred, Jack tells Rachel he wants to marry her. Clell accompanies Samantha Davis to a summer garden party where she chats with her friend, lawyer Don Brubaker, head of Attorneys Against the War. Clell and Don get into an argument and Clell knocks him to the ground. Later, Samantha stops by Clell’s apartment, saying that Brubaker is not going to press charges. The soldiers in the Third Infantry go on field exercises using the Virginia backwoods to simulate Vietnam. Clell has the soldiers assigned to him act as Viet Cong for the exercise. When his soldiers thoroughly defeat the “American” soldiers, it convinces Clell that he could make a difference if he was at Fort Benning in charge of training the soldiers headed to Vietnam. Before the field exercise ends, Clell has his men kidnap Captain Homer Thomas, who is in charge of Fort Myers, to prove how good he is at the training. Thomas is not amused by the stunt and refuses to approve Clell’s transfer. Jack and Rachel get married in a big military ceremony. As his wedding present, Clell and Goody arrange for Jack to go to Officer Candidate School. When he returns several months later, Jack is a platoon sergeant and announces he is shipping out to Vietnam in a few weeks. Rachel and Samantha become close friends, but Rachel worries about Jack for the entire year he is in Vietnam. With just a few weeks left in his tour of duty, Jack is killed. Clell is devastated, blaming himself for Jack’s death. Clell believes he could properly prepare the soldiers for Vietnam if they would assign him to Fort Benning. Since he cannot get that assignment, Clell decides to return to Vietnam and train the soldiers there. Samantha does not want him to go, but knows she cannot stop him. Clell asks Samantha to marry him before he ships out and she agrees. Jack is buried in Arlington Cemetery. Clell takes one of his medals and places it on Jack’s coffin, as the Old Guard conducts the burial, giving Jack Willow a twenty-one gun salute.

+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.