Top Gun (1986)

PG | 110 mins | Drama, Romance | 16 May 1986

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HISTORY

The following written prologue appears before the title: “On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world. They succeeded. Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: [Top Gun]”
       Referring to the picture as Top Guns, the 7 Dec 1984 DV announced the forthcoming project from producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer for Paramount Pictures. Almost for months later, the 28 Mar 1985 DV reported a $13.5 million budget.
       According to the 11 May 1986 Chicago Tribune and production notes in AMPAS library files, while working on Flashdance in 1983 (see entry), Simpson and Bruckheimer read a story published in California magazine describing the life of jet-fighter pilots at the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School at Miramar Naval Air Station in Miramar, CA, aka “Fightertown, U.S.A.,” and immediately decided it would be the subject of their next film. The article, titled Top Guns spotlighted the larger-than-life pilots that were a cross between “rock and roll heroes” and “Olympic athletes in the sky.” Armed with only an idea for the story but no script, Simpson and Bruckheimer sought cooperation from the U.S. Navy before moving forward with the project, and were granted full support, including access to the Miramar base. Additionally, they were referred to Peter “Viper” Pettigrew, a former “top gun” instructor, who became the film’s technical advisor.
       Director Tony ... More Less

The following written prologue appears before the title: “On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world. They succeeded. Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: [Top Gun]”
       Referring to the picture as Top Guns, the 7 Dec 1984 DV announced the forthcoming project from producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer for Paramount Pictures. Almost for months later, the 28 Mar 1985 DV reported a $13.5 million budget.
       According to the 11 May 1986 Chicago Tribune and production notes in AMPAS library files, while working on Flashdance in 1983 (see entry), Simpson and Bruckheimer read a story published in California magazine describing the life of jet-fighter pilots at the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School at Miramar Naval Air Station in Miramar, CA, aka “Fightertown, U.S.A.,” and immediately decided it would be the subject of their next film. The article, titled Top Guns spotlighted the larger-than-life pilots that were a cross between “rock and roll heroes” and “Olympic athletes in the sky.” Armed with only an idea for the story but no script, Simpson and Bruckheimer sought cooperation from the U.S. Navy before moving forward with the project, and were granted full support, including access to the Miramar base. Additionally, they were referred to Peter “Viper” Pettigrew, a former “top gun” instructor, who became the film’s technical advisor.
       Director Tony Scott first learned that Top Gun was in development in 1984, while he was on a rafting trip with Simpson and Bruckheimer, according to the 1 Jun 1986 LAT. At the time, another unnamed director was attached to the project, but eventually the producers approached Scott with an offer to direct the film. Scott anticipated working with Simpson and Bruckheimer and liked their preferred choice in lead actor, Tom Cruise. Kelly McGillis was reportedly Scott’s first choice for the female lead, and her character, “Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Blackwood” was based on Christine Fox, a real life civilian astrophysicist at Miramar. According to production notes, Don Simpson met Fox, the six-foot tall, blonde civilian who worked as a specialist in Maritime Air Superiority at the Center for Naval Analyses, and interviewed her extensively about her work. However, a 15 May 1985 ^DV news brief announced that actress Julianne Phillips was in consideration for the role, and had been scheduled to perform a screen test opposite Tom Cruise.
       As part of his research, writer Jack Epps, Jr. attended “declassified” Top Gun classes, observed the behavior of students and instructors, and flew in the backseat of an actual F-14 Tomcat during an “alpha strike,” as reported in production notes. Three months before production started, Tom Cruise began frequent visits to Miramar to attend Top Gun classes and socialize with pilots on the base, in preparation for his character, “Maverick.”
       The 20 May 1985 DV announced that Paramount hired writer Warren Skaaren to complete a last minute script rewrite, which was needed in just five days. Paramount president of production, Dawn Steel, called in favors so that Skaaren could temporarily put screenplays for Disney Studios and Warner Bros. on hold to perform the work. After completing the rewrite, Skaaren flew from Austin, TX, to Los Angeles, CA, and with the help of actor Tom Cruise performed “all the roles” for a read through for the producers and director. Despite his story contribution, Skaaren received onscreen credit as associate producer credit, but not as a writer.
       Principal photography began in San Diego, CA, on 26 Jun 1985, according to a 2 Jul 1985 HR production chart. Production notes report that in mid Jul 1985, filming occurred aboard the docked U.S.S. Ranger near San Diego’s Coronado Island. On 25 Jul 1985, an HR news item announced that crew would depart on 3 Aug 1985 to spend five days at sea filming interiors aboard the U.S. S. Enterprise, 110 miles off the San Diego coast. The Navy loaned the production Grumman F-14 Tomcats and disguised Northrop F-5s with black paint and red stars to stand in as MIGs, as reported in the 27 May 1986 NYT.
       A 22 May 1986 Washington Post news item stated that Cruise was pulled underwater while filming a rescue sequence at Point Loma in San Diego, when parachute lines used in the scene became caught on the actor’s watch. After forty seconds underwater, petty officers John Butler and Darryl Silva pulled the unconscious Cruise to safety. An hour later, Cruise was back at work. Silva and Butler were later awarded Navy Commendation medals for their rescue efforts.
       According to production notes, the last part of the shooting schedule was reserved for choreographing complex aerial dog-fighting maneuvers at Miramar with the school’s top instructors and pilots. Upon completion of filming, the company continued to Fallon, NV, where approximately twenty pilots completed additional “ground-to-air sequences” and “air-to-air sequences,” “which were filmed with seven different camera mounts.” A 28 Mar 1985 DV stated that plane fuel cost $8,000 per hour and ate up a large portion of the budget, in which “200 hours of aerial footage” were scheduled.
       The 23 May 1986 Back Stage and the 27 May 1986 NYT reported that anything “too expensive” and “dangerous” to film fell to supervisor of special photographic effects, Gary Gutierrez. Forty airplane models, ranging from twenty-two inches to nine feet, were photographed on a parcel of deserted land rented by Gutierrez across the bay from Oakland, CA. The planes, hung on steel wires, fire constructed weapons and exploded into flames against a real sky filled with artificially fabricated clouds. Gutierrez also modified camera mounts “with devices to create resonant vibration” to achieve the jerky, rocking motion of planes in combat.
       Four months later, on 16 Sep 1986, fifty-three-year-old veteran aviator, Art Scholl, was killed while using a remote-controlled camera to film second-unit footage in a small biplane, as announced in the 18 Sep 1985 DV. Scholl was flying alone off the coast of northern San Diego, CA, when his plane crashed into the ocean. An 18 Sep 1985 HR news brief stated that aircraft mechanic Kevin Kammer, and stunt pilot Chuck Wentworth were following Scholl in an observation plane and witnessed the crash. They heard Scholl broadcast over the radio that he was experiencing a problem, before his airplane took a nosedive spin, from 4,000 feet, toward the water. The U.S. Coast Guard searched debris from the crash, but was unable to locate Scholl’s body.
       Six months after principal photography had completed, lead actors Cruise and McGillis were called back to film additional love scenes, as reported in the 12 May 1986 People. McGillis had since cut and darkened her hair for another role, and had to wear a military cap to disguise her hair in an elevator sequence.
       News items in the 7 Apr 1986 and 18 Apr 1986 HR announced that the world premiere of Top Gun would be held on 15 May 1986 at Mission Valley’s Cinema 21 Theater in San Diego. On 29 Aug 1986, DV noted that a screening, hosted by Dolby Laboratories, would be held that evening at the AMPAS in Beverly Hills, CA.
       U.S. Navy recruiters claimed the movie had increased awareness of military aviation well beyond what the Navy could achieve with their substantial advertising budget, according to the 16 Jul 1986 Washington Post. Navy officials capitalized on the summer hit by setting up booths at select theaters manned with recruiters to answer inquiries regarding its elite pilot training program.
       The 3 Jun 1986 HR and the 6 Aug 1986 DV reported that the film earned approximately $31 million in its first seventeen days of release. After eighty-one days of domestic release, the number climbed to $107.7 million. The picture continued its successful run in Australia, Finland, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Japan, where, according to the 17 Dec 1986 Var, the picture broke a house record at Tokyo’s main Shibuya Toho theater when it took in $2.7 million on 108 screens after its first weekend in release.
       Top Gun received Academy Award nominations for film editing, sound, and sound effects editing, and won an award for Best Original Song for “Take My Breath Away,” (music by Giorgio Moroder, lyric by Tom Whitlock).
       End credits include the following acknowledgments: “Special thanks to the pilots of the U. S. Navy F-14 aircrew: “Lcdr. Lloyd ‘Bozo’ Abel, Lt. Scott ‘D-Bear’ Altman, Lt. Dennis ‘Loner’ Broska, Lt. Rick ‘Curly’ Moe, Lt. Chuck ‘Silver’ Lewis, Lt. Ben ‘Rabbi’ Schneider, Lt. Tracy ‘Too Cool’ Skeels, Lt. JG Kenneth ‘Squire’ Smith; Top Gun instructors and MIG pilots: “Lt. Dave ‘Bio’ Baranek, Lt. Michael ‘Vida’ Blue, Lt. Peter ‘Horse’ Caulk, Maj. John ‘Player’ Cushing, Lt. Ricky ‘Organ’ Hammonds, Capt. Terrence ‘Circus’ McGuire, Lt. James ‘Jambo’ Ray, Maj. Ray ‘Secks’ Seckinger, Capt. Dennis ‘Sunshine’ Dilucente, Lt. Gregory ‘Hollywood’ Dishart, Lt. Michael ‘Flex’ Galpin, Lcdr. Thomas ‘Sobs’ Sobieck, Lt. William ‘Tex’ Spence, Capt. Michael ‘Boa’ Straight, Lcdr. Robert ‘Rat’ Willard, Lt. James ‘Jaws’ Winnefeld.” Additional acknowledgements include: “Special thanks to the secretary of the Navy – The Honorable John F. Lehman, Jr.,” and, “The Producers wish to gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and support of the U. S. Navy and the following individuals: Radm T. J. Cassidy, Radm J. A. Garrow, Adm James L. Holloway III USN (Ret.), Lt. John Henry Semken.” Additionally, “The Producers wish to thank the officers and men of the: Navy Fighter Weapons School; ‘Top Gun’; Naval Air Station Miramar; Naval Training Center San Diego; Naval Air Station North Island; Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada; Sea Air Rescue North Island; Coast Guard San Diego; USS Enterprise; USS Carl Vinson; USS Ranger,” and, “Suggested by Ehud Yonay’s article Top Guns in California magazine.” Final acknowledgements include: “The Producers wish to acknowledge the contributions of the following: Otari Tape Recorders; Soundcraft USA; JVC Company of America, Professional Video Communications Division; Audio Kinetics, Inc.; Northrop Corporation.” End credits state: “This film is dedicated to the memory of Art Scholl." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Back Stage
23 May 1986
---
Chicago Tribune
11 May 1986
Section 13, p. 2
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1984
---
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1985
p. 1, 26
Daily Variety
15 May 1985
---
Daily Variety
20 May 1985
---
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1985
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1986
---
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1986
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1985
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 1985
p. 1, 5
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1986
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1986
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 1986
---
Los Angeles Times
16 May 1986
p. 1, 22
Los Angeles Times
1 Jun 1986
Calendar, p. 17-18
New York Times
16 May 1986
p. 10
New York Times
27 May 1986
---
People
12 May 1986
---
The Washington Post
22 May 1986
---
The Washington Post
16 Jun 1986
p. D6
Variety
14 May 1986
p. 14
Variety
17 Dec 1986
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Production
A Tony Scott Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
2d asst photog
Still photog
Video eng
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Air to air photog
F-14 cam consultant
F-14 cam consultant
Astrovision op
Steadicam op
Aerial & underwater cam
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
Aerial cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Lead person
Prop master
Standby painter
Const coord
COSTUMES
Men's cost supv
Women's cost supv
Men`s ward
Men`s ward
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus ed
SOUND
Boom op
Cable
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Supv A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
Spec sd eff created by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Supv of spec photographic eff
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
Title des by
Process coord
Process eng
Spec visual eff by
Dir of photog, USFX crew
Prod mgr, USFX crew
Prod coord, USFX crew
Pyrotechnican, USFX crew
Pyrotechnican, USFX crew
Key grip, USFX crew
Grip, USFX crew
Asst grip, USFX crew
Model dept supv, USFX crew
Modelmaker, USFX crew
Modelmaker, USFX crew
Modelmaker, USFX crew
Modelmaker, USFX crew
Modelmaker, USFX crew
Armature des, USFX crew
Asst modelmaker, USFX crew
Asst modelmaker, USFX crew
Asst modelmaker, USFX crew
Ass photog, USFX crew
Ass photog, USFX crew
Ass photog, USFX crew
Cam asst, USFX crew
Anim supv, USFX crew
Anim, USFX crew
Anim, USFX crew
Anim, USFX crew
Asst cam, USFX crew
Asst ed, USFX crew
Asst ed, USFX crew
Prod secy/Coord, USFX crew
Prod auditor, USFX crew
Asst auditor, USFX crew
Asst to Mr. Gutierrez, USFX crew
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Addl makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Asst to Mr. Badalato
Digital eng
Video graphics by
Asst to Mr. Simpson
Asst to Mr. Simpson
Asst to Mr. Simpson
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Bruckheimer
Asst to Mr. Scott
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Record company consultant
Record company consultant
First aid
Aerial consultant
Aerial consultant
Navy aerial coord
F-14 aerial coord
Navy dial consultant
Government relations
Navy public affairs
Navy public affairs
Navy public affairs
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Danger Zone,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Kenny Loggins, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Kenny Loggins courtesy of CBS Records
“Lead Me On,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Teena Marie, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Teena Marie courtesy of CBS Records
“Hot Summer Nights,” by Michael Jay, Alan Roy Scott & Roy Freeland, performed by Miami Sound Machine, produced by Emilio Estefan, Jr. & Giorgio Moroder, Miami Sound Machine courtesy of CBS Records
+
SONGS
“Danger Zone,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Kenny Loggins, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Kenny Loggins courtesy of CBS Records
“Lead Me On,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Teena Marie, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Teena Marie courtesy of CBS Records
“Hot Summer Nights,” by Michael Jay, Alan Roy Scott & Roy Freeland, performed by Miami Sound Machine, produced by Emilio Estefan, Jr. & Giorgio Moroder, Miami Sound Machine courtesy of CBS Records
“Heaven In Your Eyes,” by John Dexter, Paul Dean, Mike Reno & Mae Moore, performed by Loverboy, produced by Paul Dean & John Dexter, Loverboy courtesy of CBS Records
“Top Gun Anthem,” by Harold Faltermeyer, performed by Harold Faltermeyer & Steve Stevens, produced by Harold Faltermeyer, Steve Stevens courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
“Mighty Wings,” by Harold Faltermeyer & Mark Spiro, performed by Cheap Trick, produced by Harold Faltermeyer, Cheap Trick courtesy of CBS Records
“Playing With The Boys,” by Kenny Loggins, Ina Wolf & Peter Wolf, performed by Kenny Loggins, produced by Peter Wolf, Kenny Loggins courtesy of CBS Records
“Take My Breath Away,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Berlin, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Berlin courtesy of Geffen Records and Phonogram B. V.
“Destination Unknown,” by Franne Gold, Jake Hooker & Paul Fox, performed by Marietta Waters, produced by Harold Faltermeyer
“Through The Fire,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Larry Greene, produced by Giorgio Moroder, Larry Greene courtesy of Camel/MCA Records, Inc.
“Radar Radio,” by Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock, performed by Giorgio Moroder featuring Joe Pizzulo, produced by Giorgio Moroder
“Great Balls Of Fire,” by Jack Hammer & Otis Blackwell
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” by Otis Redding & Steve Cropper, performed by Otis Redding, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation, by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” By Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil & Phil Spector, performed by The Righteous Brothers, courtesy of PolyGram Special Projects, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Top Guns
Release Date:
16 May 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 May 1986
Production Date:
began 26 June 1985
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
17 June 1986
Copyright Number:
PA293347
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28069
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During a training exercise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, U.S. Naval pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell disregards orders to land his plane when fellow pilot, “Cougar,” has a panic attack after dodging oncoming Russian MiG aircrafts. Although low on fuel, Maverick guides Cougar back to the ship. After being reprimanded by their commander for failing to follow orders, Maverick and his best friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, learn they will be sent to “Top Gun,” the Navy’s elite fighter jet program, to train to become the best pilots in the nation. Maverick expects to be the best pilot in his class, but Goose believes that a classmate named “Ice” will earn the honor because he of his well-known “nerves of steel” and competitive nature. At a local bar, Ice taunts Maverick and Goose as being “second string,” and only making the program because Cougar lost his nerve. Maverick sings karaoke to impress a pretty blonde named Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, and continues his pursuit by following her into the women’s bathroom. Maverick admits his sophomoric bet with Goose to try to convince her to have sex with him on the Formica countertop, but Charlie artfully discourages his attempts at seduction. However, as Charlie walks past Goose, she brazenly claims that Maverick scored and was “magnificent.” The next morning, Charlie arrives at Maverick’s class, in her official capacity as an astrophysicist and civilian specialist in enemy aircraft. Seeing her, Maverick buries his head in humiliation. As Charlie explains the MiG’s limitations, Maverick contradicts her, based on his experience in the Indian Ocean. Charlie realizes that Maverick is the unorthodox pilot whose exploits are well documented at the Pentagon. Charlie is intrigued, ... +


During a training exercise in the middle of the Indian Ocean, U.S. Naval pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell disregards orders to land his plane when fellow pilot, “Cougar,” has a panic attack after dodging oncoming Russian MiG aircrafts. Although low on fuel, Maverick guides Cougar back to the ship. After being reprimanded by their commander for failing to follow orders, Maverick and his best friend, Nick “Goose” Bradshaw, learn they will be sent to “Top Gun,” the Navy’s elite fighter jet program, to train to become the best pilots in the nation. Maverick expects to be the best pilot in his class, but Goose believes that a classmate named “Ice” will earn the honor because he of his well-known “nerves of steel” and competitive nature. At a local bar, Ice taunts Maverick and Goose as being “second string,” and only making the program because Cougar lost his nerve. Maverick sings karaoke to impress a pretty blonde named Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood, and continues his pursuit by following her into the women’s bathroom. Maverick admits his sophomoric bet with Goose to try to convince her to have sex with him on the Formica countertop, but Charlie artfully discourages his attempts at seduction. However, as Charlie walks past Goose, she brazenly claims that Maverick scored and was “magnificent.” The next morning, Charlie arrives at Maverick’s class, in her official capacity as an astrophysicist and civilian specialist in enemy aircraft. Seeing her, Maverick buries his head in humiliation. As Charlie explains the MiG’s limitations, Maverick contradicts her, based on his experience in the Indian Ocean. Charlie realizes that Maverick is the unorthodox pilot whose exploits are well documented at the Pentagon. Charlie is intrigued, and wants to know more about the MiG’s capabilities, but Maverick suggests she review his classified files for information. In the locker room, co-pilots Ice and “Slider,” along with Maverick and Goose claim victory after a training exercise. Ice declares that he does not approve of Maverick’s risky behavior, and predicts it will lead to his downfall. Commanding officer Mike “Viper” Metcalf reprimands Maverick and Goose for breaking two rules: flying below 10,000 feet and doing a flyby of the control tower without permission. Viper warns that any more stunts will get them tossed out of the program. Later, Goose suggests that every time Maverick flies he is competing with the memory of his pilot father, Duke Mitchell. Maverick’s recklessness makes Goose nervous, who wants to graduate and support his wife, Carole, and their child. Maverick promises not to let him down. The next day, Charlie gives Maverick some pointers about his flying. As they flirt, she tells him she does not date students. However, she hands him a piece of paper with a written invitation to meet her for dinner. When he arrives at her house, Maverick discovers that Charlie likes the same music as his deceased mother, and reveals that his fighter pilot father died in combat under mysterious circumstances. Maverick does not believe that error led to his father’s death, but Charlie suggests the memory is holding him back and explains why his class performance is second best. When she comments that dating him will be complicated, Maverick thanks her for dinner and leaves without making a pass. In class, Viper advises pilot trainees to save their aircraft if they find themselves in a bad position with the enemy. He and Charlie highlight Maverick’s recent performance as an example of what not to do, even though he was successful. A classmate tells Maverick that his flying is the “gutsiest” he has ever seen. After class, Maverick ignores Charlie, and drives away on his motorcycle. She speeds after him in her car until he pulls over. After heatedly arguing her admonishment against him in class, she admits that she had to make an example of him to hide the fact that she has fallen in love with him. Charlie tells Maverick that his flying skill shows signs of genius, but she fears being accused of favoritism. Afterward, they go to Charlie’s home and make love. Halfway through the Top Gun program, Ice is in first place for the trophy and Maverick is two points behind. During a training exercise, Maverick abandons his wingman, “Hollywood,” to pursue Viper, but is blocked by “Jester,” another flight instructor. Later, Jester praises Maverick’s flying but criticizes him for leaving his wingman. Ice complains that Maverick’s attitude is dangerous and wants to know whose side he is on. Maverick admits he made a mistake and promises Goose that it will not happen again. In time, Maverick and Ice both pursue Jester during another training exercise. When Maverick’s aircraft goes into an uncontrollable spin, he and wingman, Goose, are forced to eject from the plane as it plunges toward the ocean. Goose pulls Maverick’s ejection handle when he cannot reach it, but upon pulling his own, his head slams into the canopy, and Goose is killed instantly. Subsequently, Maverick blames himself for Goose’s death, even though he is cleared of any wrongdoing in the accident. He is returned to flight status, but his newfound anxieties cause him to underperform. Instructor Jester is concerned that Maverick will not bounce back from Goose’s death, but Viper insists that Maverick keep flying. In the locker room, Ice offers his condolences, but Maverick quits the program. Charlie points out all the evidence that Maverick was not at fault, but she is unable to persuade him. Maverick visits Viper at home and learns that he flew with Maverick’s father, “Duke” Mitchell. Viper claims that Maverick is a lot like his father, but is a better pilot. Viper recalls that Duke stayed in a vicious dogfight and saved three other planes before he was killed. He encourages Maverick to attend his graduation the following day, but supports his decision to quit without disgrace if he chooses. Arriving late to the ceremony, Maverick congratulates Ice for winning the trophy for “Best Fighter Pilot.” After Viper hands out their next assignments, Maverick and several pilots are sent aboard an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean, where Maverick is tasked to backup Ice and Hollywood during a rescue operation. Ice’s complaints about Maverick are ignored. Once the pilots are in the air, five MiGs ambush them. Hollywood’s plane is shot down, and he ejects. As Maverick gets the order to join the fight, Ice and Slider are outnumbered, but repeatedly dodge enemy fire. Ice and Slider are desperate for Maverick’s help, but he retreats. However, after clutching Goose’s dog tags, he gathers his courage, and fires a missile at the MiG chasing Ice and Slider. The missile shears off a wing and the MIG goes down. Ice blows up another MiG, but a second enemy plane riddles the side of his plane with bullets, and Ice is forced to shut down an engine to stabilize his aircraft. Maverick employs a few fancy maneuvers to shoot down two other MiGs. Sensing defeat, the remaining MiGs peel away, ending the conflict. The ship’s crew greets the returning pilots with cheers. Ice tells Maverick that he is still dangerous but can be his wingman anytime. Maverick smiles and comments that Ice is welcome to be his wingman, and the two fighter pilots embrace. Sometime later, Maverick throws Goose’s dog tags into the sea. Several newspapers describe Maverick’s heroic rescue. As a reward, Maverick is offered his choice of assignments. When he chooses to teach at Top Gun, his commanding officer chuckles. In time, at a diner near the flight school, Maverick hears someone play a familiar song on the jukebox. He searches the diner and finds Charlie, who admits that she has returned from her new job in Washington, D.C., to be with him. Maverick smiles and admits that things could be complicated. +

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

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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.