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HISTORY

According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, the working title of the film was Father Sky. On 20 May 1980, DV announced that the film had been retitled Taps.
       The following acknowledgements appear at the end of the film: “The Producers wish to acknowledge the cooperation and invaluable assistance of the Pennsylvania National Guard, The United States of America, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Townships of Tredyffrin and Radnor, and the community of Wayne, Pennsylvania in the making of this Picture”; “Filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College. The Producers acknowledge that the events depicted in this Picture do not – nor are they intended to – reflect the educational philosophy or teachings of Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College”; and, "Film sequences from Star Trek courtesy of Paramount Pictures."
       Production notes stated that the source material came from a manuscript copy of the Devery Freeman novel, Father Sky, given to producer Stanley R. Jaffe. During the adaptation, the role of "Cadet Major Brian Moreland" was greatly expanded. A 28 Feb 1979 HR news brief stated that Columbia Pictures paid a “six-figure sum for movie rights” to Freeman’s novel. The film had a $6 million budget, according to a 25 Mar 1980 HR article.
       In a 23 Jun 1980 DV “Just for Variety” column, Army Archerd announced that Jaffe was considering actor Christopher Atkins for a role in Taps ; however, Atkins does not appear in the final version of the film. Production notes stated that after being cast as the seventeen-year-old Moreland, Timothy ... More Less

According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, the working title of the film was Father Sky. On 20 May 1980, DV announced that the film had been retitled Taps.
       The following acknowledgements appear at the end of the film: “The Producers wish to acknowledge the cooperation and invaluable assistance of the Pennsylvania National Guard, The United States of America, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Townships of Tredyffrin and Radnor, and the community of Wayne, Pennsylvania in the making of this Picture”; “Filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College. The Producers acknowledge that the events depicted in this Picture do not – nor are they intended to – reflect the educational philosophy or teachings of Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College”; and, "Film sequences from Star Trek courtesy of Paramount Pictures."
       Production notes stated that the source material came from a manuscript copy of the Devery Freeman novel, Father Sky, given to producer Stanley R. Jaffe. During the adaptation, the role of "Cadet Major Brian Moreland" was greatly expanded. A 28 Feb 1979 HR news brief stated that Columbia Pictures paid a “six-figure sum for movie rights” to Freeman’s novel. The film had a $6 million budget, according to a 25 Mar 1980 HR article.
       In a 23 Jun 1980 DV “Just for Variety” column, Army Archerd announced that Jaffe was considering actor Christopher Atkins for a role in Taps ; however, Atkins does not appear in the final version of the film. Production notes stated that after being cast as the seventeen-year-old Moreland, Timothy Hutton prepared for his role by reading Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, an "allegory of an innocent leader crushed by the forces of authority;” a biography of General George Patton; Pat Conroy’s The Lords of Discipline, a novel with a military school setting; and American Caesar, “William Manchester’s biography of General MacArthur.” Hutton said he bonded with actor George C. Scott over several games of chess, which made his character’s rapport with Scott’s seem more authentic.
       To cast the numerous cadets that make up Moreland’s classmates, 2,000 actors were interviewed and auditioned. The actors underwent four weeks of military training before the start of principal photography. They received military haircuts and were fitted for uniforms. Days were divided, with mornings devoted to rehearsals, and afternoons to learning military discipline, rifle drills and parade formations with help from “technical advisors from the faculty.” Certain actors received special tutoring to master additional military skills. For the commencement scene, Sean Penn learned to control his horse and keep in step with other riders. As members of the school’s honor guard, twelve actor-cadets learned a series of difficult “precision rifle drills” that involved tossing their weapons from one cadet to another like jugglers.
       After extensive location scouting across the country, the Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior College in Forge, PA, was selected as the site for the fictional “Bunker Hill” campus in the film.
       A 13 Sep 1979 HR news item stated that the film would begin principal photography late winter 1979 or early spring 1980. But on 25 Mar 1980, the HR stated the production had been pushed back to July and given a twelve-week shooting schedule. Peter Werner was hired as director but the 19 May 1980 HR reported that Jaffe and Werner had parted ways due to “creative differences.” A 7 Jul 1980 DV “Just for Variety” column stated that Columbia put Jaffe’s film in “turnaround” because it lacked a “major director,” “bankable star” and its budget had jumped to $10 million. A 29 Jul 1980 HR article reported that Jaffe had moved his production company to Twentieth Century-Fox, where Taps was given a green light. A 6 Aug 1980 DV article announced that the start of principal photography would be delayed due to a Screen Actors Guild strike. According to an 26 Jun 1981 HR news item, principal photography on location in King of Prussia, PA, was set to finish that day or the next.
       Reviews for the film were mixed. A 18 Dec 1981 LAT review stated the plot suffered from too many gaps of logic and criticized director Harold Becker’s work for being uneven, but stated that some “beautiful performances” managed to shine through. Another review in the Jan 1982 issue of Los Angeles summed up the film as “ The Alamo meets The Strawberry Statement, with a bit of King of Hearts and Leave It To Beaver tossed in for good measure.” In contrast, an 8 Feb 1982 LAHExam review praised Hutton’s performance and the film’s message of “the beauty of having ideals” and “standing straight and tall in a world which likes people to crawl.”
       Hutton received a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 May 1980.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1980.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1980
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 1981
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1981
p. 8.
LAHExam
8 Feb 1982.
---
Los Angeles
Jan 1982
p. 218 -219.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1981
p. 3.
New York Times
9 Dec 1981
p. 28.
Variety
9 Dec 1981
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Stanley Jaffe Production
A Harold Becker Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
1st asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Steadicam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Panaglide
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
Prod illustrator, 2d unit
FILM EDITORS
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Asst to Mr. Jarre
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Jaffe
Asst to Mr. Becker
Prod coord
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Loc auditor
Loc coord
Cadet coord
Extras casting
Extras casting
Teaching coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Military tech supv
Helicopter pilot
Asst to Mr. Jarre
Scr supv, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Father Sky by Devery Freeman (New York, 1979).
SONGS
"Light my Fire," written and performed by The Doors [Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger] , courtesy of Elecktra Records
"Stop Draggin' my Heart Around," written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, performed by Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, courtesy of Modern Records Inc. and Atlantic Records
"Slow Hand," written by Michael Clark and John Bettis, performed by the Pointer Sisters, courtesy of Planet Records (Distributed by Electra/Asylum Records).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Father Sky
Release Date:
1981
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 December 1981
Los Angeles opening: 18 December 1981
Production Date:
ended late June 1981 in King of Prussia, PA
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
1 June 1982
Copyright Number:
PA142025
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
132
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26439
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Bunker Hill Military Academy, new cadet major Brian Moreland and outgoing cadet John Cooper listen to Gen. Harland Bache, the school superintendent, regale them at dinner with tales of the battlefield. After dinner, they toast to honor. At commencement, Bache announces that the academy will be closed in one year when the land is sold for real estate development, and he urges the cadets to fight for the school’s survival. When Brian asks Bache how the land can be sold out from under them, Bache says that society no longer thinks military education is relevant. On prom night, local teenagers jeer as cadets escort their girlfriends to the dance and a fight erupts. When townie Donald Andrews grabs Bache’s gun, Bache wrestles it away but accidentally shoots Andrews, and Bache is arrested. Later, Brian learns Bache has suffered a heart attack; there will be no summer session without the general. When Donald dies, the academy owners immediately close the school; however, Brian decides that he must save the academy and orders other cadets to confiscate the school’s supply of weapons and ammunition. Brian makes a verbal list of student demands known to the dean and a police officer. As the police officer pulls out handcuffs to arrest Brian, a squad of cadets in the gallery cock their rifles and he retreats. Brian says the weapons will be returned under the following conditions: he wants a meeting with Bache, a commission formed to look into the real estate interests of the academy, and a discussion with school trustees about alternatives to closing the school. Later, several cadets drive into town for food and another scuffle ... +


At the Bunker Hill Military Academy, new cadet major Brian Moreland and outgoing cadet John Cooper listen to Gen. Harland Bache, the school superintendent, regale them at dinner with tales of the battlefield. After dinner, they toast to honor. At commencement, Bache announces that the academy will be closed in one year when the land is sold for real estate development, and he urges the cadets to fight for the school’s survival. When Brian asks Bache how the land can be sold out from under them, Bache says that society no longer thinks military education is relevant. On prom night, local teenagers jeer as cadets escort their girlfriends to the dance and a fight erupts. When townie Donald Andrews grabs Bache’s gun, Bache wrestles it away but accidentally shoots Andrews, and Bache is arrested. Later, Brian learns Bache has suffered a heart attack; there will be no summer session without the general. When Donald dies, the academy owners immediately close the school; however, Brian decides that he must save the academy and orders other cadets to confiscate the school’s supply of weapons and ammunition. Brian makes a verbal list of student demands known to the dean and a police officer. As the police officer pulls out handcuffs to arrest Brian, a squad of cadets in the gallery cock their rifles and he retreats. Brian says the weapons will be returned under the following conditions: he wants a meeting with Bache, a commission formed to look into the real estate interests of the academy, and a discussion with school trustees about alternatives to closing the school. Later, several cadets drive into town for food and another scuffle occurs with the townies. Cadet Alex Dwyer takes charge and rounds up all the cadets to leave but their truck plows into a patrol car. When Brian learns that they have created more trouble, he warns the senior cadets to act like real soldiers and keep their emotions in check or else their plan will fall apart. Soon, eight state police cars show up at the academy gates, and Brian presses for his demands to be met. In the morning, the school remains surrounded by law enforcement, and Brian agrees by phone to a meeting involving several parents of the cadets, including his own father, Mst. Sgt. Kevin Moreland, who accuses Bache of inciting his son’s rebellion. The conversation ends with a slap by the father to the son. Later, Brian gives the cadets a pep talk and reminds them that Bache would want them to finish what they started. He asks any doubters to step forward but there are none. Before they go to bed, Alex warns Brian that it is dangerous to put Bache on a pedestal. Meanwhile, a convoy of military jeeps arrive beyond the school gates, as parents call to their sons from a van with speakers mounted on the roof. Cadet Edward “Eddie” West warns Brian that cadet David Shawn’s red beret squad is so “pumped up” to kill that things might escalate out of control but Brian reassures his friend that the authorities will side with the cadets. At morning formation, squad leaders report to Brian that eleven cadets are missing and Col. Kerby requests a meeting. Kerby warns Brian that the governor views the cadets as terrorists but Brian is unstirred by Kerby’s words. When Kerby leaves, Brian calls formation and orders his fellow cadets to leave by day if they so choose. Eddie lays down his weapon and nearly twenty-five cadets follow suit and march out the front gate. Brian tells David that he was surprised by the exodus, and David claims that Bache would have never allowed the boys to leave. Later, the authorities cut off the school’s water supply and Brian orders Alex to fill canteens with the remaining supply. Soon, the two friends get into a fistfight after Alex accuses Brian of staging the rebellion solely to earn Bache’s admiration. Next, the electricity is cut off and David orders the cadets to grab their weapons and man their battle stations. An armored tank arrives at the front gate as cadets drop into their bunkers. As other cadets repair an old generator, cadet J. C. Pierce catches on fire and is sent to a hospital. Meanwhile, Kerby warns Brian that the governor is about to order the use of force and asks him to consider the safety of the younger cadets. Brian argues that age has nothing to do with being a good soldier and contends that it is honorable to die for a good cause. When Kerby replies that there is no honor in dying, Brian says that he will only end the rebellion if Bache gives the order, but Kerby informs Brian that Bache died the previous night. Later, a young cadet named Darrin is overcome with fear and runs to the front gate with his friend Charlie Auden in tow. When Darrin’s gun goes off accidentally, Charlie is shot through the chest. Afterward, Kerby informs the cadets that the National Guard will take the campus by force in the morning. Inside a dormitory, Alex finds Brian watching publicity films in which Bache talks about the academy’s traditions, and Brian realizes that there was no honor in Charlie’s death. Alex tells Brian to declare a victory so that they can go home. In the morning, Brian walks through the courtyard and announces that the rebellion is over, but David ignores the order and shoots Kerby. Chaos breaks out and the tank breaks through the gate. Brian stops David but they are both shot dead. Alex carries Brian’s body out the front gate. Footage shows the cadets in their dress uniforms marching in formation at commencement. Brian, David and J. C. salute Bache as they pass by the podium where he stands. +

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

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