"The dead know only one thing: it’s better to be alive."
– Private Joker (Matthew Modine)

"The best war movie ever made!"

Stars: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, Ed O’Ross

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Fast Facts:

  • Full Metal Jacket was based on the 1979 novel The Short-Timers, which recounted author Gustav Hasford’s experiences as a combat correspondent in Vietnam.
  • After obtaining the rights to the novel in 1983, Stanley Kubrick asked author Michael Herr, author of the celebrated Vietnam War book Dispatches, to collaborate with him on the screenplay.
  • Kubrick decided to change the title to Full Metal Jacket, a term describing a bullet encased in a copper jacket which helps it feed through a rifle.
  • To cast the film, Kubrick and Warner Bros. placed ads throughout the US for young aspiring actors, asking them to send in videotapes of themselves performing a scene about Vietnam.
  • Lee Ermey was originally hired as a technical advisor and to indoctrinate extras into the military-like atmosphere of the production. Kubrick was so impressed with Ermey’s presence and barrages of insults that he cast him as the drill sergeant.
  • To enhance the realism of the boot camp scenes, Kubrick never let Ermey rehearse with the other actors, which created strong, real emotions when the scenes were filmed.
  • Although the film takes place in Parris Island, SC and Hue, Vietnam, the entire production was shot in England. The boot camp was built on an industrial site in Enfield, and Parris Island was recreated at a British Army base in Bassingbourne, under Lee Ermey’s supervision.
  • A 1930s abandoned coke-smelting plant in Beckton, a suburb of East London, was used for the battlefield scenes. The buildings there were designed by the same French architects who had worked in Hue, Vietnam.
  • The original music in the film was credited to "Abigail Mead," a pseudonym for Vivian Kubrick, Stanley Kubrick’s daughter.
  • The film earned an Academy Award® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.


A superb ensemble cast falls in for action in Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant saga about the Vietnam War and the dehumanizing process that turns people into trained killers. Joker (Matthew Modine), Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), Gomer (Vincent D’Onofrio), Eightball (Dorian Harewood), Cowboy (Arliss Howard) and more — all are plunged into a boot-camp hell pitbulled by a leatherlung D.I. (Lee Ermey) who views the would-be devil dogs as grunts, maggots or something less.

The action is savage, the story unsparing, the dialogue spiked with scathing humor. Full Metal Jacket, from its rigors of basic training to its nightmare of combat in Hue City, scores a cinematic direct hit.



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