Today is National Top Gun Day. No, I am not making this up…
Twenty five years ago today was the day that one of the coolest movies in the history of film hit theaters everywhere! It was Top Gun.
I remember I was living in Woodbridge, Virginia, a sleepy bedroom community off the beltway near Washington D.C. It was the near the end of the Cold War and Reagan hadn’t yet told Gorby to “tear down this wall!”
On this particular day I was hanging out with my friend Gene Driscoll and we had a plan to go to the movies that evening. We each had to go home to convince our parents that it was the right thing to do. We promised to mow the lawn all summer or clean our room in the morning or some obscure chore for the chance to see this movie.
Even then we thought about the win-win positioning in the daily duel of parent versus young teen, I was 15 at the time and still need a ride from mommy to the mall. Luckily, my mom was the “cool mom” even if we were driving in what was a close resemblance to the Family Truckster in Vacation. Our car was a creme colored Oldsmobile station wagon with supple leather seats.
After the convincing and the promising and the signing of our lives away on a parental I.O.U. to what amounted to about ten bucks, we loaded up in the car and headed to the theaters.
Grabbing a bag of ‘corn and a super size Coke I plopped down in the aisle seat— let me mention one thing here…
No matter what the occasion I must have an aisle seat on a plane, a train, or a theater just in case of fire–a practice that I still enforce to this day. Sort of like the way that Wild Bill Hicok had to sit with his back to the wall when he played poker in the salons in Deadwood, for fear of getting shot. The one time that Wild Bill didn’t sit with his back to the wall he was shot and killed. No you know what I am saying.
Back to the movie.
As customary in the 1980s if two guys went to a theater together, you would never sit side-by-side in a pair of seats. No way! We always had an empty seat between us. God forbid one of our arms brushed up against another. That is creepy!
With Top Gun’s ultra cool flying scenes and special effects who could not want to run out and join the Navy? In fact a couple years later I almost did, but I chickened out before the swearing in ceremony. Man, how different would my life have been if I would have become a sailor? I don’t know if Top Gun had anything to do with my yearning to wear a shirt with a flap in the back and a pair of bell bottoms but I bet it did have that effect on some.
Did you know, riding on the back of this film’s success, the US Navy set up recruiting booths in the major cinemas to try and catch some of the adrenaline? charged guys leaving the screenings. They had the highest applications rate for years as a result.
Just think about how cool that movie was in the theaters before the days of the Internet. Remember how people used to cheer for the ‘star’ in movies like that. Think about Rocky and how many people were cheering for him like they were at a real fight ringside.
I know that night we are all screaming for Maverick to fire the missiles and shoot down those dang Russian Migs! I remember thinking just how cool it was that they were wearing leather jackets and aviator sunglasses and dog tags. How cool it would have been to have a super fast motorcycle (a Kawasaki Ninja) and a Walkman blasting Kenny Loggins as we flew down the road!
Even it was a little creepy, how neat was it to watch the guys pummel each other in a beach volleyball game. No, I take that back. That was not neat. That was creepy weird!
Just how awesome it was for Maverick to dis Jester and how we wanted to be just like Goose and ‘Mav” with the ladies and sing: “Who’s Got that Lovin’ Feeling…”
Who could not forget Val Kilmer as Iceman and his rocket to stardom after this flick. He even included his trademark with flipping pen over his knuckles. He does this in a lot of his films including Tombstone where he is flipping a poker chip. It took me a while but I mastered this trick with a quarter and still do it to this day (when I am a bit bored).
All of us teenage boys were swooning over Meg Ryan and Kelly McGillis after seeing this movie.
They don’t make movies like this anymore. Today they are all filled with fake CGI and the plot line is the same over and over. Even if it was a flick disguised as Reaganesque propaganda it still rocked!
Man, I need to go to Redbox and see if they have this movie tonight. Why? Because, I feel the need… the need for speed!