The 1986 war film “Heartbreak Ridge” follows the final career of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway (Clint Eastwood), a decorated veteran of two wars. On his final assignment, Highway is in charge of a platoon of unprepared Marines who he is tasked with preparing for battle. Highway is surrounded by officers who have never seen combat, and he’s viewed as a dangerous with unorthodox training methods that prompt clashes ith other officers. Despite Highway’s commander, Maj. Malcolm Powers (Everett McGill) working against him, Highway succeeds in preparing his men for the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
Below are the top four scenes from the film:
Eastwood’s rugged Marine character is shown off in this jail scene when he faces off with a burly prisoner and the two exchange spats. “I’m mean, nasty, and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm, and I can put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters,” he warns. After knocking out the burly prisoner, he resumes telling his war stories as if nothing happened.
This scene shows Eastwood’s character and how he is not afraid to stand down when it comes to defending his method of defending and protecting his men. Rather than follow the plans to the T knowing that his men won’t be prepared, he took steps to better assess and prepare them himself. His compliance with orders is another story…
This scene features the notable line, “There you have it. Democracy in action. We’ll run instead,” thrown in the troops’ face when they think they’ll get off easily. It exemplifies the unsaid notion among service members that sometimes it is best to do as they are told, rather than running the risk of an entire platoon paying the consequences.
The presentation of Eastwood’s character is a stereotype of a witty Marine, and he plays the role perfectly. The scene comes full circle when Eastwood goes from being critiqued, to achieving a high award in the U.S. Marine Corps.