Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Full Metal Jacket (1987)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

In director/co-writer Stanley Kubrick's searing war film, based upon his adaptation of Gustav Hasford's 1979 novel The Short Timers, it was told in two parts: first, the exploits of a recruited young Marine Corps soldier during dehumanizing South Carolina boot-camp training on Parris Island in the late 1960s, and second, the nightmarish, violent front lines within Hue City - with a cool, unemotional look at urban warfare on the eve of the 1968 Tet Offensive at the turning point of the war:

  • in the striking opening credits sequence, Marine recruits had their heads shaved on Parris Island, to the tune of the country song "Hello Vietnam," performed by Johnny Wright
  • one of the recruits, Private J. T. "Joker" Davis (Matthew Modine), wore a helmet labeled "Born to Kill," and provided voice-over narration throughout the entire film
  • during their first training session, their foul-mouthed, brutal, ruthless, and demanding drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (real-life DI R. Lee Ermey) spewed one-liners: ("I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your Senior Drill Instructor. From now on, you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be: 'Sir!' Do you maggots understand that?...Bulls--t, I can't hear you. Sound off like you gotta pair...If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon, you will be a minister of death, praying for war. But until that day, you are pukes! You're the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human f--kin' beings! You are nothing but unorganized grab-asstic pieces of amphibian s--t! Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard, but I am fair! There is no racial bigotry here! I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless! And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps! Do you maggots understand that?...Bulls--t, I can't hear you...")
  • Sgt. Hartman demanded that the wise-cracking 'Joker' show his "war face" and that the recruits go to bed with their rifles, and he recited a US Marine Corps love poem; also Catholic-believing Hartman backhandedly slapped Joker's face when he said he didn't believe in the Virgin Mary - the impertinent Joker was forced to change his answer: "Now you do love the Virgin Mary, don't you?" - but Joker stubbornly refused to bend, stating: "The Private believes that any answer he gives is wrong, and the Senior Drill Instructor will beat him harder if he reverses himself, sir"; impressed by the courage and "guts" of his convictions, Hartman immediately promoted Joker to squad leader, but Joker's added duty was to become the personal instructor of overweight, slow-witted recruit Private Leonard Lawrence, nicknamed 'Gomer Pyle' (Vincent D'Onofrio)
  • while proceeding through the extremely physically-challenging obstacle course, Private 'Gomer Pyle' couldn't keep up due to his physical condition and weight; to ridicule him, Sgt. Hartman forced Pyle to walk behind the platoon with his pants around his ankles while sucking his thumb
  • Sgt. Hartman delivered a speech about the great Marine marksmen of the past (including mass murderer Charles Whitman and JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald) - "Those individuals showed what one motivated Marine and his rifle can do"
  • in a very gory scene, insanely-disturbed Private 'Gomer Pyle' went crazy in the barracks' latrine after being hazed and abused by Hartman and his fellow Marine roommates; in the middle of the night in the bathroom as he was suffering from a mental breakdown, he was ranting about his loaded M-14 rifle (with live ammunition), while rehearsing one of his training routines - the recitation of the 'Rifleman's Creed': "This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend"
  • Sgt. Hartman heard the commotion and rushed in, asking Private "Joker" on duty: "What is this Mickey Mouse s--t? What in the name of Jesus H. Christ are you animals doing in my head? Why is Private Pyle out of his bunk after lights out? Why is Private Pyle holding that weapon? Why aren't you stomping Private Pyle's guts out?"
  • "Joker" replied to the Sergeant that the gun's magazine was fully "locked and loaded"; Hartman demanded that Pyle surrender his rifle and then insulted him when he didn't comply: "I want that weapon and I want it now. You will place that rifle on the deck at your feet and step back away from it.(yelling) What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts? Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?"; holding his rifle at waist level, Pyle murdered Hartman (filmed in slow-motion) by blasting him in the chest at close range
Pyle's Murder of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman

  • shortly after, when Pyle had decided to not kill Joker, Pyle backed up, dropped down on one of the bathroom toilet seats, put the gun to his mouth, and suicidally pulled the trigger; he blew his head off, splattering the wall behind him with his brains and blood; the bloody death scene slowly faded to black
  • the film's second-half followed the exploits of Sgt. 'Joker' in Da Nang who was working for the the military newspaper Stars and Stripes; the transition was introduced by the striking entrance of a hip-swiveling, mini-skirted Vietnamese prostitute/hooker (Papillon Soo) in Da Nang (viewed from behind as she walked down the Saigon street) to the tune of Nancy Sinatra's feminist song: "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" - she then propositioned two GI soldiers-clients at a cafe: ("You got girlfriend (in) Vietnam?...Well, baby. Me so horny. Me so horny. Me love you long time. You party?"); however, the prostitute was part of a set-up to distract 'Joker' and his partner combat photographer Pvt. 1st Class Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard) so that the latter's camera could be stolen by her accomplice (Nguyen Hue Phong)
  • during the combat unit's dangerous search for a deadly Viet Cong sniper amongst the ruins of factory buildings in Phu Bai during the Battle of Hue, 'Joker' located the sniper on an upper floor, but his rifle jammed and he was trapped behind a concrete column; his pal Rafterman shot and lethally wounded the sniper who then begged "Shoot me!" - surprisingly, the VC Sniper was a teenaged female (Ngoc Le) (who moments earlier had killed Texan recruit Sgt. "Cowboy" Evans (Arliss Howard) who had died in Joker's arms); although hesitant, Joker was initiated into the exclusive club of those who exhibited the "thousand yard stare" when he performed his first kill - the mercy-killing of the sniper
The VC Sniper - and Joker's Mercy-Killing
  • in the film's final scene, the surviving troop members of the unit sang "The Mickey Mouse Club" theme song as they marched through burned-out ruins of flaming buildings to their main camp; the 'Joker's' memorable voice-over narration ended the film: "My thoughts drift back to erect nipple wet dreams about Mary Jane Rottencrotch and the Great Homecoming F--k Fantasy. I am so happy that I am alive, in one piece and short. I'm in a world of s--t - yes. But I am alive. And I am not afraid"

Opening Title Credits: Head Shavings For New Recruits

"Joker's" Boot Camp Training with Sgt. Hartman

Hartman's Backhanded Slapping of Joker For Not Believing in the Virgin Mary

Pyle's Failures on the Obstacle Course

Private Pyle's Suicide

"Me So Horny" Prostitute in Da Nang

Combat in Vietnam

The Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song


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