Top Gun

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This is an article about a movie. For the US Navy Fighter Weapons School or the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) course see TOPGUN. For the Nintendo game, see Top Gun (video game).

Top Gun
Directed by Tony Scott
Written by Ehud Yonay
Jim Cash
Jack Epps Jr.
Starring Tom Cruise
Kelly McGillis
Val Kilmer
Anthony Edwards
Produced by Don Simpson
Jerry Bruckheimer
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date May 16, 1986
Runtime 109 min.
Language English
Budget $15,000,000 (estimated)
IMDb page

Top Gun is a 1986 American movie starring Tom Cruise. The film also starred Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Tom Skerritt and Michael Ironside, and featured early appearences by Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan.

Top Gun was directed by Tony Scott and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer in association with Paramount Pictures.




The primal inspirations for the film were found by producer Jerry Bruckheimer when he found an article in the May 1983 issue of California magazine which would form the basis of the film. The article, Top Guns, was about fighter pilots at the Miramar Naval Air Station, located near San Diego, nicknamed "Fightertown USA".

Bruckheimer's reaction to the article was instantaneous: "This looks like Star Wars on earth." However, producer Don Simpson, who had worked on Flashdance and Beverly Hills Cop in the past with Bruckheimer was not as impressed and his reaction to the title of the article did not mirror Bruckheimer's excitement. Simpson dismissed the idea without reading the article, originally thinking that the article was western-orientated. However after Bruckheimer convinced Simpson to read the piece, Simpson was as convinced as Bruckheimer on the project.


Numerous screenwriters turned down the project, Bruckheimer and Simpson went on to hire Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr. to write the first draft. The research methods, by Epps, consisted of a attendence at several declasifed Top Gun classes at Miramar and gaining experience by being flown in an F-14. The first draft failed to captute the imagination of Bruckheimier and Simpson, the first draft is considered to be very different from the final product in numerous ways.

The film needed the assistance of the United States Navy, the Navy was willing to aid the film on three conditions: the film must benefit the service; the script was be authentic; and it must be in good taste. Though the Navy hated the film An Officer and a Gentlemen, which did not follow any criteria that the Navy provided the Top Gun prodducers with, it was an embarrassment to the Navy's reputation, they however still recognized that it may have aided naval recruitment, an idea which may have been influencial in the decision to co-opearate with Top Gun producers.

It was a beneficial deal to both parties, the Navy would be able to oversee the production of the film to avoid further degredation to its reputation and Top Gun would save millions of dollors by being allowed to access personnel, Navy installations and equipment as well as waived costs of operations such as launches and landings. Aerial cameraman and pilot Art Scholl was killed during filming when his Pitts S-2 failed to recover from an inverted spin and plunged into the Pacific Ocean. The movie is dedicated to his memory.

The US Navy held a powerful position in relation to script approval with immediate changes being made. The opening dogfight was moved to international waters as opposed to Cuba, Navy department's Robert Manning stated: "We said it had to be over international waters - and we insisted that the Navy pilots would not fire until they had been fired upon." Bad language was trimmed and a scene that involved a crash on the deck of an aircraft carrier was also scrapped.

Tom Cruise was the first choice for the lead in the film. Cruise however was not totally convinced by the script offered to him and did not sign a contract, rather agreed to develop the script with them and go from there. Cruise was to influence the direction of the script in a major way. He wanted a more competitive edge to the film, so the semi-fictional Top Gun trophy was introduced (there had been an inter-service air-to-air gunnery competition in the 1940s and 50s, but the Navy quickly discouraged competitive flying). Cruise along with Paramount executive Dawn Steel, were not convinced that the lead's love interest was appropriate, claiming that a 'female that hangs around bars trying to snare a Navy husband' was an insulting sterotype.

Plot summary

Cruise plays Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, a cocky young United States Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot. Maverick is the son of a fighter pilot shot down during the Vietnam War and listed as missing in action, the details of which haunt Maverick to this very day.

The film begins with Maverick and his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer, the "backseater" in the two-man F-14) "Goose" (Edwards), flying wingman to lead pilot "Cougar" and his RIO, "Merlin" (Robbins), en route to intercept an unknown inbound (a "bogey"). It turns out to be two enemy MiG aircraft doing some spying, and although they ultimately do not engage the MiGs in combat, the experience unsettles Cougar. Maverick, low on fuel, heroically risks his own plane in order to help Cougar back to the aircraft carrier Enterprise.

As a result of this incident, Cougar realizes he has lost the edge and retires ("turns in his wings"). That means Maverick and Goose are now the best team in the squadron, and are sent to the Navy's elite "TOPGUN" fighter pilot school (US Navy Fighter Weapons School, now known as US Navy Strike Fighter Tactical Instruction) at Miramar, near San Diego, California.

While testing his instructors' patience with his reckless flying and establishing a rivalry with top student Tom "Iceman" Kazanski (Kilmer), Maverick also falls in love with his beautiful female civilian instructor, Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood (McGillis).

When Goose is killed during one of the mock airborne engagements, Maverick begins to lose his nerve until a revelation about his father's fate helps him regain his composure in time for the climactic air-to-air combat sequence at the end.



."Take My Breath Away" by Berlin (which is played during the Maverick and Charlie love scene) received the Best Song Oscar in 1987. The film was also nominated for three Oscars in that year for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.

Box office performance

When the film opened in the United States on the 16 May 1986, opening at number one with a $8,193,052 intake on its first weekend, it went on to take in a total domestic figure of $176,786,701, opening in a total of 1,531 theatres. Internationally it was embraced, taking in $177,030,000 for a worldwide box office total of $353,816,701.

Video release

Top Gun in what was a relativley new home-video market. An $8 million marketing campaign ensured that the advanced demand was such that the film became the best-selling video-cassette in the industry's history on pre-orders alone.

Top Gun's home video success was again reflected by strong DVD sales, which was furthered by a special edition release in 2004 which sold a massive amount of copies.


The Top Gun soundtrack is one of the most popular soundtracks to date, some say that it captured the heart of the 1980s with its music. It has been one soundtrack that has always held a strong position in sales and will contiune to do so as the soundtrack has become a very recgonizable collection of music.

Bryan Adams was approached to allow his song "Only the Strong Survive" on the soundtrack. He refused because he felt the film glorified war and he didn't want any of his work linked to it.


Unsurprisingly, it boosted the Navy's recruitment, this was evident in the fact that they used its success by having recruitment booths in some theatres to lure enthusiastic patrons. "It's hard to put exact numbers on how many people it brought in, but it sure has helped." said Lietenant Sandy Irwin.

Sales of Ray-Ban 'Aviator' sunglasses jumped 40%, due to their ongoing appearence in the film, predominantly by Maverick and Iceman, people wanted to capture the personalities of the Top Gun characters by wearing the same sunglasses, which became highly fashionable and continues to do so even more today.

See also

Historical incidents similar to those in the film's climax:

External links

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