When it comes to legal films with military courtroom settings, A Few Good Men ranks up there. Featuring acting heavyweights such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and Kiefer Sutherland, the movie is a massive success. Written by Aaron Sorkin, it started out as a stage play, which was later adopted for TV. Keep reading to learn more amazing facts about A Few Good Men (film).
1. It Was Initially A Stage Play
Written by Aaron Sorkin, A Few Good Men was originally a stage play before it was rewritten for TV. Even though the film is laden with heavyweight actors such as Tom Cruise, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jack Nicholson, they only came in for the screenplay. The only person to feature in the stage play and the TV version was Josh Molina, who plays Jessup’s clerk.
2. The Word “Sir” Was Used Over 150 Times in the Film
Usually, curse words, especially the “F-word,” are the words that fill films. However, for A Few Good Men, the writer went hard with “sir.” The word was used about 164 times, an average of once every 50 seconds. However, considering it is a military movie, this isn’t a surprise.
3. Tom Cruise Watched the Stage Play Before Signing on to the Film
Before signing for his role in A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise watched the film’s stage play version at Broadway. He even insisted on learning all the jargon in the script’s dialogues.
4. Aaron Sorkin’s Sister Inspired the Source Play
Aaron Sorkin’s (the play’s stage and screenwriter) sister, Deborah, inspired the writing of the film A Few Good Men. She had graduated from the Boston University Law School and just signed up to work with the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Her work was to defend a group of marines who suffered a near-death experience following an order from their superiors in Guantanamo Bay. Deborah told Aaron about this in a phone call, thereby inspiring the film.
5. The Screenwriter Wrote the Film’s Story on Cocktail Napkins
Before becoming a successful screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin was a bartender at the Palace Theater on Broadway. When the idea of writing the story for A Few Good Men, he wrote the script on cocktail napkins. He then transferred the content to his Macintosh 512k computer that he had bought after he returned home.
6. Aaron Sorkin Sold the Film’s Rights Before it Premiered
Even though the screenplay for Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men premiered in 1992, the writer had already sold its rights to David Brown, a legendary film producer. Before A Few Good Men, Aaron Sorkin had written another one-act play called Hidden in This Picture. So, when Brown heard about Sorkin’s new development, he reached out and bought the film’s rights before it premiered.
7. Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise Were among the Film’s Top Earners
As they were among the top cast and most notable figures, it’s no surprise Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise were among A Few Good Men’s top earners. The film had an estimated budget of about $40 million. For his role of Kaffee, Tom Cruise was paid $12.5 million. On the other hand, Jack Nicholson, who played Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, bagged $5 million. It is said Nicholson only attended 10 days of shooting the movie.
8. A Few Good Men’s Release Clashed with Another Jack Nicholson Film
Columbia Pictures distributed the screenplay version of A Few Good Men in December 1992. One of the film’s top cast was Jack Nicholson, who had starred in another movie called Hoffa, which was released simultaneously. Reports claim that Nicholson was not happy with this development. He thought the clashing release dates brought direct competition to the two films.
9. An Unnamed Executive Wanted Tom Cruise and Demi Moore to Sleep Together
One of A Few Good Men’s executives wanted Aaron Sorkin to make Tom Cruise’s and Demi Moore’s characters to sleep together in the film. On the contrary, Sorkin rejected the idea, saying female actors had roles other than sleeping with Tom Cruise. The screenwriter highlighted this as his worst experience in the industry.
10. The Original A Few Good Men Stage Play Ran for 497 Performances
A Few Good Men film’s success started with its stage play version. Sources report that it was performed close to 500 times, opening at the Music Box Theater on November 15, 1989.
11. It’s the Origin of the Phrase, “You Can’t Handle the Truth.”
One of the most famous phrases in the film A Few Good Men is “You Can’t Handle the Truth.” The line is so famous that some people who use it don’t know its origin. It was ranked 29th when the American Film Institute (AFI) created a list of the 100 best movie quotes.
12. Other TV Shows and Films Allude to it
A Few Good Men’s success was so massive that other films and TV shows often allude to it. For instance, Aaron Korsh’s legal drama TV show Suits quotes a lot from the movie. An example is when Harvey Spector (one of the leads) says, “See, that’s where you’re wrong, Donald. Because he just brought up your company, and you messed with the wrong g*ddamn marine.”
13. James Woods Almost Played Colonel Jessup
Even though he was a supporting cast, Colonel Jessup is one of the meatiest characters in A Few Good Men. As it turns out, James Woods, famous for fast-talking roles on screen and stage, was to play the role before Jack Nicholson landed it. Nicholson went on to win several precious awards for the character.
14. Demi Moore Went Above and Beyond to Land Her Role in A Few Good Men
Before landing her role in A Few Good Men, Demi Moore had seen her three previous films flop, and she was desperate for a lifeline. This movie gave her a perfect opportunity; she was willing to do anything to get a role. For instance, it is reported Moore dropped her asking price from $3 million down to $2 million as there were other competitors. She also had to wait for her audition as she was eight months pregnant.
15. A Few Good Men Received Many Award Nominations
Since its official release, the courtroom film has been nominated for various academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Sound Mixing, Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson), and Best Film Editing. Besides the nominations, the film has won the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for Top Box Office Films.
Others include the following:
- Awards Circuit Community Awards’ Best Adapted Screenplay
- Heartland Film Festival’s Truly Moving Picture and Best Movie
- NAACP Image Awards and National Board of Review Awards’ Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson)
- People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Motion Picture and Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture