A Few Good Men (1992)

R | 138 mins | Drama | 11 December 1992

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HISTORY

Aaron Sorkin first learned about the 1986 incident on which his stage play, A Few Good Men, was based from his sister, a naval lawyer, who acted as defense attorney for one of ten U.S. Marines involved in a “code red,” or informal disciplinary action, carried out against a fellow marine who was identified as “Willie A.” in the 6 Dec 1992 NYT. Colonel Sam Adams allegedly encouraged the perpetrators to punish Willie A. the weekend before he was due to be transferred off the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, the rag shoved down the victim’s throat inadvertently led to his death. Several lawyers, including Walter C. Bansley, III, and Chris Johnson, claimed the role of “Lt. Daniel Kaffee” was based on them, as noted in a 16 Sep 2011 NYT brief, but Aaron Sorkin maintained the character was “entirely fictional.”
       According to a 25 Aug 1989 NYT article, producer David Brown expressed interest in adapting Sorkin’s unproduced play into a film, but Sorkin wanted the production to go up in a theater first. In turn, Brown joined with Lewis Allen, Robert Whitehead, and the Shubert Organization, to raise $600,000 for a Nov 1989 Broadway launch at the Music Box Theatre, where the play ran for fourteen months. Prior to the Music Box opening, the stage production debuted at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, on 19 Sep 1989, and ran there until 30 Sep 1989. It also played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., from 4-29 Oct 1989. A Los Angeles, CA, production went up at the Wilshire Theatre on 7 Apr 1992, according to an ... More Less

Aaron Sorkin first learned about the 1986 incident on which his stage play, A Few Good Men, was based from his sister, a naval lawyer, who acted as defense attorney for one of ten U.S. Marines involved in a “code red,” or informal disciplinary action, carried out against a fellow marine who was identified as “Willie A.” in the 6 Dec 1992 NYT. Colonel Sam Adams allegedly encouraged the perpetrators to punish Willie A. the weekend before he was due to be transferred off the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. However, the rag shoved down the victim’s throat inadvertently led to his death. Several lawyers, including Walter C. Bansley, III, and Chris Johnson, claimed the role of “Lt. Daniel Kaffee” was based on them, as noted in a 16 Sep 2011 NYT brief, but Aaron Sorkin maintained the character was “entirely fictional.”
       According to a 25 Aug 1989 NYT article, producer David Brown expressed interest in adapting Sorkin’s unproduced play into a film, but Sorkin wanted the production to go up in a theater first. In turn, Brown joined with Lewis Allen, Robert Whitehead, and the Shubert Organization, to raise $600,000 for a Nov 1989 Broadway launch at the Music Box Theatre, where the play ran for fourteen months. Prior to the Music Box opening, the stage production debuted at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, on 19 Sep 1989, and ran there until 30 Sep 1989. It also played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., from 4-29 Oct 1989. A Los Angeles, CA, production went up at the Wilshire Theatre on 7 Apr 1992, according to an LAT article published that day.
       According to a 24 Sep 1990 Var article, Canal Plus and World Film Services, where producer David Brown had recently been named president, were expected to provide partial financing for A Few Good Men. However, a 16 Dec 1992 HR “Hollywood Report” column stated that Columbia Pictures “either put up or advanced” all of the financing. According to a 26 Oct 1992 WSJ item, Castle Rock Entertainment received a producing fee, but Columbia would retain all of the film’s profits.
       Aaron Sorkin and director Rob Reiner spent eight months collaborating on the screenplay adaptation. According to a 6 Dec 1992 NYT article, changes included the elimination of a “doctored logbook” that served as a “smoking gun” in the play. A 30 Nov 1992 Var brief also noted that William Goldman was paid $300,000 to advise Sorkin, who made his feature film screenwriting debut with A Few Good Men.
       The casting of Tom Cruise as Lt. Daniel Kaffee was announced in a 22 Mar 1991 Screen International brief, which stated filming would begin in Aug 1991.
       According to a 15 Dec 1992 Long Beach Press-Telegram item, actress Demi Moore was so adamant about playing the role of “Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway,” she waited in line to audition while eight months pregnant. James Woods was similarly enthusiastic about the role of “Col. Nathan R. Jessep,” according to a 27 Dec 1989 HR “Rambling Reporter” column, but Jack Nicholson was ultimately cast.
       A 5 Jan 1993 Long Beach Press-Telegram item noted that Wolfgang Bodison had been working as a location scout and Rob Reiner’s production assistant when Reiner decided to cast him as “Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson.” The role marked Bodison’s feature film acting debut.
       A 12 Aug 1991 DV brief noted that the budget was approaching $40 million, and Jack Nicholson was set to be paid $500,000 per day for ten days of work. A 21 Oct 1991 People item confirmed Nicholson’s $5 million salary, and stated that Cruise would receive $12.5 million.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files and the 22 Oct 1991 HR production chart, principal photography began on 21 Oct 1991 in Washington, D.C., where locations included the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Guantanamo Bay scenes were shot in various Southern CA locations, including Crystal Cove State Park, Fort MacArthur, and the Point Mugu Naval Air Station. Lunch at Jessep’s home in Guantanamo was shot at a Coast Guard commander’s residence in San Pedro, where two additional buildings were constructed to give the area the look of a compound. Interiors, including courtroom scenes, were filmed on Culver Studios soundstages in Culver City, CA.
       A 30 Oct 1991 DV article stated that although filmmakers considered shooting at Camp Pendleton in California, they were denied access by the U.S. Defense Department, which did not endorse the script. Nevertheless, 200 off-duty marines served as extras during filming.
       A 19 Jan 1993 Edwards Cinema Preview brief claimed that Tom Cruise insisted on the use of Clearsound voice-enhancing recording equipment, developed by the Church of Scientology. Although some speculated that Cruise was unhappy with his natural pitch, the actor contended that Clearsound simply did a better job of capturing his voice. Around the same time, similar reports circulated that Cruise stipulated similar equipment on Far and Away (1992, see entry).
       According to a 5 Oct 1992 HR item, 2,000 trailers were pulled from theaters when it was discovered they had not been approved to accompany films rated G, PG, or PG-13. The “red-band” trailers included a scene in which Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway pulls back a sheet to reveal a pillow splattered in blood, which the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) found unacceptable for general audiences. Castle Rock Entertainment claimed the trailers were mistakenly sent out, and would be replaced.
       An initial release date of 18 Dec 1992 was moved to 11 Dec 1992 after test screenings exceeded Columbia’s expectations, according to a 9 Aug 1992 LAT item. Columbia’s chairman, Mark Canton, was quoted as saying that A Few Good Men reportedly “scored higher than any other movie ever tested by the National Research Group.” A 7 Oct 1992 LAT article speculated that Columbia had moved up the release date so that Hoffa, a competing Jack Nicholson film slated to open on 11 Dec 1992, would not beat A Few Good Men to theaters. Jack Nicholson was reportedly unhappy that both films were released on the same day, and claimed his contracts usually forbid such conflicts of interest, as noted in the 29 Sep 1992 DV item.
       In her 9 Dec 1992 Newsday column, Liz Smith stated that Columbia would open the film in fifty countries simultaneously, making A Few Good Men the first “global” movie premiere.
       A New York City benefit screening for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) took place on 2 Dec 1992, as noted in the 4 Dec 1992 Newsday. A six-minute short film about environmental concerns, featuring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Rob Reiner, directed by Reiner and co-produced by his wife, Michele Singer, was also shown. One week later, the Los Angeles premiere took place on 9 Dec 1992 at Mann’s Village Theater, and raised $150,000 for the NRDC, according to the 11 Dec 1992 LAT.
       Critical reaction was largely positive, and the film was a commercial success. An 18 Jan 1993 DV advertisement reported domestic box-office earnings had surpassed $100 million, and a 9 Mar 1993 DV advertisement listed the worldwide box-office take as over $200 million. Rob Reiner received the George Eastman Kodak Award at ShowEast 1992, and the film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Nicholson), Sound, and Film Editing. It was named one of the top ten films of the year by the National Board of Review, which also awarded Jack Nicholson “Best Supporting Actor.” The film also won People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Motion Picture and Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture, and the Film Information Council’s Excellence in Film Marketing Award for the month of Dec 1992, as noted in the 25 Jan 1993 DV. A Few Good Men was ranked #5 on AFI’s 2008 list of Top 10 Courtroom Dramas, and #29 on AFI’S 2005 list 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, for the quote, “You can’t handle the truth!”
       Castle Rock Entertainment was sued for $10 million in damages by several Marines involved in the incident that inspired the film, as reported in a 26 Feb 1994 The Times (London) brief. The marines claimed they never gave permission for filmmakers to use their story, and pointed out key details that were taken from real life, including the stuffing of a poisoned rag down the victim’s throat. A Castle Rock executive responded that the lawsuit was without merit. The outcome could not be determined as of the writing of this Note. Less than two months after The Times (London) brief, a 7 Apr 1994 HR item reported that David V. Cox, one of the marines who had been acquitted and honorably discharged, was found shot to death on 2 Apr 1994.
       End credits include the following statements: "Photos courtesy of: Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures, Washington, D.C.; National Baseball Library, Cooperstown, New York"; “Filmed at the Culver Studios, Culver City, California, and on location in Washington, D. C.”; “Special Thanks to John Horton, Ray Smith and Major Michael McClosky”; and, “Producers wish to thank: The Capital Band; Commanding Officer and crew of the United States Support Center, San Pedro, California; Walter L. Hill II; Commissioner Robert A. Washington, Ph. D.; Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D. C.; The State of California, California Film Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation; Re-Sets, an environmental strike group; and Haskell Wexler.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1991.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1991.
---
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1992.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1993.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1993.
---
Daily Variety
9 Mar 1993.
---
Edwards Cinema Preview
29 Jan 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1992
p. 3, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 1992
p. 6, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1994.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
15 Dec 1992.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
5 Jan 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Apr 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
9 Aug 1992
Calendar, p. 26.
Los Angeles Times
7 Oct 1992
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1992
p. 34.
Los Angeles Times
11 Dec 1992
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1994
Section A, p. 20.
New York Times
25 Aug 1989
Section C, p. 2.
New York Times
6 Dec 1992
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
11 Dec 1992
p. 20.
New York Times
16 Sep 2011
Section A, p. 18.
Newsday
4 Dec 1992
p. 11.
Newsday
9 Dec 1992
p. 11.
People
21 Oct 1991.
---
Screen International
22 Mar 1991.
---
The Times (London)
26 Feb 1994.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1990
p. 21.
Variety
16 Nov 1992
p. 64.
Variety
30 Nov 1992.
---
WSJ
26 Oct 1992
Section A, p. 2.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Columbia Pictures and Castle Rock Entertainment Presentation
A Rob Reiner Film
A David Brown Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr
Based on his play
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Chief lighting tech
Key grip
Still photog
Cam loader
Cam prod asst
Asst lighting tech
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Rigging gaffer
Asst rigging gaffer
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Rigging grip
Rigging grip best boy
Addl cam op, Washington D. C. unit
Addl cam 1st asst, Washington D. C. unit
Addl cam 2d asst, Washington D. C. unit
Steadicam op, Washington D. C. unit
Rigging gaffer, Washington D. C. unit
Rigging grip, Washington D. C. unit
Still photog, Washington D. C. unit
Photog equip by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Illustrator
Art dept coord
Art dept asst
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Post prod supv
Film ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const clerk
Leadman
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Paint supv
Stand by painter
Greensman
Greensman
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus prod by
Mus prod by
Cond by
Mus rec and mixed by
Addl orch by
Mus programming
Mus programming
Mus contractor
Mus preparation
Mus scored at
Culver City, California
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Boom op
Cableman
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Stage eng
Machine op
Machine op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
A.D.R. mixer
A.D.R. rec
ADR voice-over coord
Foley by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Re-rec facilities
a division of LucasArts Entertainment Company
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Processed eff by
Titles & opticals
Matte shot by
Matte shot by
Matte shot by
Matte shot by
MAKEUP
Make up dept head
Head hairstylist
Make up
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Prod coord
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Post prod accountant
Prod secy
Asst loc mgr
Payroll asst
Product promotions coord
Unit pub
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Talent coord
Asst to Rob Reiner
Asst to Rob Reiner
Asst to the prods
Asst to Tom Cruise
Asst to Demi Moore
Craft services
First aid
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Prod driver
Catering
Catering
Prod coord, Washington D. C. unit
Loc consultant, Washington D. C. unit
Prod secy, Washington D. C. unit
Projectionist, Washington D. C. unit
Pub, Washington D. C. unit
Teamster shop steward, Washington D. C. unit
Transportation capt, Washington D. C. unit
Consultant
Travel services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin (New York City, 2 Nov 1989).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Hound Dog," written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by Willie Mae Thornton, courtesy of MCA Records
"Timber I'm Falling In Love," written by Kostas, performed by Patty Loveless, courtesy of MCA Records
"Next Time You See Me," written by Earl Forest & William G. Harvey, performed by Jimmy Cotton, courtesy of Vanguard Records/A Welk Music Group Co., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
+
SONGS
"Hound Dog," written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by Willie Mae Thornton, courtesy of MCA Records
"Timber I'm Falling In Love," written by Kostas, performed by Patty Loveless, courtesy of MCA Records
"Next Time You See Me," written by Earl Forest & William G. Harvey, performed by Jimmy Cotton, courtesy of Vanguard Records/A Welk Music Group Co., by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"All I Want To Do," written by UB40, performed by UB40, courtesy of Virgin Records Ltd./A & M Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
11 December 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 9 December 1992
New York opening: 11 December 1992
Production Date:
began 21 October 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Castle Rock Entertainment
Copyright Date:
26 February 1993
Copyright Number:
PA602887
Physical Properties:
Sound
This film recorded in a THX Sound System Theatre; Dolby Stereo® in selected theaters
Color
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
138
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31954
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Washington, D.C., Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway asks to defend Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey, two Marines who are being court-martialed for killing fellow platoon member William Santiago at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although a Naval Investigative Service (NIS) agent believes Dawson and Downey killed Santiago to prevent him from naming LCpl. Dawson in an illegal shooting incident, Lt. Cdr. Galloway suspects the marines, who both have exemplary records, may have been carrying out orders for a “Code Red.” Galloway’s superior, Captain West, agrees to move the defendants to Washington, D.C., but refuses to assign Galloway as their counsel. Instead, rookie attorney Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, who is known for his plea bargaining skills, is assigned to the case. Kaffee is told that Dawson fired an illegal shot over a fence into Cuban territory, and when Private First Class William Santiago threatened to expose him, Dawson, with the help of Downey, likely retaliated by stuffing a poisoned rag down his throat. An hour later, Santiago was found dead. However, both Downey and Dawson deny committing murder. Lt. Kaffee and his co-counsel, Lieutenant Sam Weinberg, meet with JoAnne Galloway, who is offended that Capt. West chose such young attorneys over her. Kaffee asserts that he will negotiate for dishonorable discharge and a shortened prison term of twelve years, but Galloway argues that Dawson and Downey may be innocent. In the months leading up to his death, Pfc. Santiago wrote many requests to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay, to no avail. Kaffee stops Galloway, insisting that a protracted investigation would lead to questioning Colonel Nathan ... +


At the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Washington, D.C., Lieutenant Commander JoAnne Galloway asks to defend Lance Corporal Harold W. Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey, two Marines who are being court-martialed for killing fellow platoon member William Santiago at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Although a Naval Investigative Service (NIS) agent believes Dawson and Downey killed Santiago to prevent him from naming LCpl. Dawson in an illegal shooting incident, Lt. Cdr. Galloway suspects the marines, who both have exemplary records, may have been carrying out orders for a “Code Red.” Galloway’s superior, Captain West, agrees to move the defendants to Washington, D.C., but refuses to assign Galloway as their counsel. Instead, rookie attorney Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, who is known for his plea bargaining skills, is assigned to the case. Kaffee is told that Dawson fired an illegal shot over a fence into Cuban territory, and when Private First Class William Santiago threatened to expose him, Dawson, with the help of Downey, likely retaliated by stuffing a poisoned rag down his throat. An hour later, Santiago was found dead. However, both Downey and Dawson deny committing murder. Lt. Kaffee and his co-counsel, Lieutenant Sam Weinberg, meet with JoAnne Galloway, who is offended that Capt. West chose such young attorneys over her. Kaffee asserts that he will negotiate for dishonorable discharge and a shortened prison term of twelve years, but Galloway argues that Dawson and Downey may be innocent. In the months leading up to his death, Pfc. Santiago wrote many requests to be transferred out of Guantanamo Bay, to no avail. Kaffee stops Galloway, insisting that a protracted investigation would lead to questioning Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, a highly decorated marine expected to be appointed Director of Operations for the National Security Counsel. Kaffee does not want to challenge such a powerful authority. Sometime earlier, in Guantanamo Bay, Pfc. William Santiago fights nausea, dizziness, and heat exhaustion, and is beaten by his superiors for falling behind. Col. Nathan R. Jessep is alerted to a letter Santiago sent off the base, requesting to be transferred. Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Andrew Markinson suggests granting Santiago an immediate transfer, but Jessep argues they have a responsibility to train him. He tells Lieutenant Jonathan Kendrick to make sure Santiago receives a perfect score on his next progress report. After Kendrick is dismissed, Jessep warns Markinson never to question his orders in front of another officer again. Back in Washington, D.C., JoAnne Galloway learns that Santiago was declared dead by a physician, Dr. Stone, at 1 a.m. on August 6th, with the cause of death “undetermined.” Two hours later, however, Dr. Stone claimed he was poisoned. Galloway suggests to Kaffee that Dawson and Downey may have been executing a “Code Red.” Kaffee meets with prisoners Dawson and Downey, who explain that “Code Reds” are disciplinary actions carried out by one’s fellow marines. They admit to breaking into Santiago’s room on the night of his death and binding and gagging him as part of a “Code Red”; however, the rag they used was not poisoned and they only intended to shave his head, but stopped short when they saw blood dripping from his mouth. They called an ambulance, but were arrested on suspicion of murder. They vehemently maintain their innocence, and claim to have stuck by their code: “Unit, corps, god, country.” Later, prosecuting attorney Captain Jack Ross negotiates a plea bargain with Kaffee. Ross asserts that Dawson and Downey are obviously guilty, especially since Lt. Jonathan Kendrick gave orders to the platoon on August 6th, warning them not to touch Santiago. Capt. Ross agrees to Kaffee’s proposed plea deal. That evening, Kaffee admits to Sam Weinberg that he found Ross’s defense of Lt. Kendrick suspicious. Galloway joins Kaffee and Weinberg on a visit to Guantanamo Bay, where they examine William Santiago’s barracks room and speak with Col. Jessep, who refuses to answer Galloway’s questions about the practice of “Code Reds.” He claims Santiago was set to be transferred off the base the morning of his death, but when Kaffee requests a copy of Santiago’s transfer order, Jessep flies into a rage and demands that Kaffee ask “nicely.” Back in Washington, D.C., Galloway gets permission from Pfc. Louden Downey’s next of kin, Aunt Ginny Miller, to represent him as private counsel. To Kaffee’s dismay, she joins him in questioning Dawson and Downey, who admit that Lt. Kendrick ordered the “Code Red” on Santiago, shortly after giving contradictory orders to their platoon to stay away from Santiago. Although Kaffee recommends they accept the plea deal, Dawson and Downey maintain they were carrying out orders, and refuse to plead guilty. Kaffee, who worries he will not live up to the reputation of his father, a former attorney general, reluctantly agrees to go to trial. At the court-martial, Galloway is impressed by Kaffee’s ability to engage the jury. Dr. Stone testifies that Santiago died from lactic acidosis poisoning, but Kaffee provides evidence that Santiago likely had an undiagnosed coronary condition that could have caused his lungs to bleed, ruling out poison as the only possible cause of death. That night, Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson, who was reported missing after Kaffee and Galloway’s visit to Guantanamo Bay, appears in the backseat of Kaffee’s car. Markinson reveals that Col. Jessep never gave a transfer order for Santiago; instead, he originated the “Code Red” that Kendrick ordered Dawson and Downey to carry out. When Lt. Kendrick is called to the witness stand, however, he denies the existence of “Code Reds.” Although Markinson is set to testify, he commits suicide, leaving behind a note of apology to Santiago’s parents. The simple-minded Downey is caught lying when he testifies, and Kaffee loses hope that they might win. Remaining optimistic, Galloway encourages him to subpoena Col. Jessep. Kaffee resists the idea at first, but later decides that Jessep’s pride will be his downfall, and, if provoked, he will admit to ordering the “Code Red.” On the day of Jessep’s questioning, Galloway warns Kaffee to be careful, since he could jeopardize his career by defaming him. Nevertheless, Kaffee presses Jessep on the stand, and points out that, despite Jessep’s claims that Santiago was due to leave Guantanamo Bay at 6 a.m. on August 6th, his belongings were not packed and he had made no phone calls as of 1 a.m. Kaffee succeeds in riling Jessep into a confession that he did, in fact, order a “Code Red” on Santiago. Jessep insists his actions were in the interest of national security, but the judge has him arrested by military police. Dawson and Downey are found not guilty of murder. However, they are dishonorably discharged for Conduct Unbecoming a United States Marine. Downey is incredulous, but Dawson is struck by the realization that they failed to live up to their code by not fighting for Santiago. As Dawson leaves the courtroom, Kaffee contends that he still has honor, and Dawson responds by saluting him. +

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

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