CLASSIC SCENE: “Let Me See Your War Face”

Film: FULL METAL JACKET.
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Gustav Hasford, Michael Herr.

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Setting the Scene: On a Parris Island Marine barracks we are introduced to recruits who stand at attention in front of their bunks. Master Gunnery Sergeant HARTMAN (R. Lee Ermey) walks along the line of blank-faced recruits, observing them before proceeding his barrage of profane verbal abuse and humiliation.

HARTMAN
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?

RECRUITS
(in unison)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! I can’t hear you. Sound off like you got a pair.

RECRUITS
(louder)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
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 fucking beings! You are nothing but unorganised, grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit!

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 core. Do you maggots understand that?

RECRUITS
(in unison)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! I can’t hear you!

RECRUITS
(louder)
Sir, yes, sir!

[Sergeant Hartman stops in front of a
black recruit
]

HARTMAN
What’s your
name, scumbag?

RECRUIT #1
(shouting)
Sir, Private Brown, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! From now on
you’re Private Snowball! Do you like that name?

SNOWBALL
(shouting)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Well, there’s one thing that you won’t like, Private Snowball! They
don’t serve fried
chicken and watermelon on a daily basis in my mess hall!

SNOWBALL
Sir, yes, sir!

[A voice is heard from the back of the barracks]

RECRUIT #2
(whispering)
Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?

HARTMAN
Who said that? Who the fuck said that? Who’s the slimy little communist, shit twinkle-toed, cocksucker down here, who just signed his own death warrant? Nobody, huh?
The fairy fucking godmother said it! Out-fucking-standing! I will P.T. you all until you fucking die!
I’ll P.T. you until your assholes are
sucking buttermilk.

[Sergeant Hartman grabs Recruit #3 by the shirt]

HARTMAN
Was it you, you scroungy little fuck, huh?!

RECRUIT #3
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
You little piece of shit!
You look like a fucking worm!
I’ll bet it was you!

RECRUIT #3
Sir, no, sir!

RECRUIT #2
Sir, I said it, sir!

[Sergeant Hartman steps up to him]

HARTMAN
Well… no shit.
What have we got here, a
fucking comedian? Private Joker? I
admire your honesty. Hell, I like you. You can come over to my house and fuck my sister.

[Sergeant Hartman punches Joker in the stomach. Joker sags to his knees]

HARTMAN
You little scumbag!
I’ve got your name! I’ve got your ass! You will not laugh!
You will not cry!
You will learn by the numbers.
I will teach you. Now get up! Get on your feet!
You had best unfuck yourself or I
will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!

JOKER
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Private Joker, why did you join
my beloved Corps?

JOKER
Sir, to kill, sir!

HARTMAN
So you’re a killer!

JOKER
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Let me see your war face!

JOKER
Sir?

HARTMAN
You’ve got a war face?

[He Screams in his face]
Aaaaaaaagh! That’s a
war face.
Now let me see your war face!

JOKER
[shouting]
Aaaaaaaagh!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! You didn’t convince me!
Let me see your real
war face!

JOKER
[Screaming]
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

HARTMAN
You didn’t scare me! Work on it!

JOKER
Sir, yes, sir!

[Sergeant Hartman walks over to Recruit #3 again and speaks into his face]

HARTMAN
What’s your excuse?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, excuse for what, sir?

HARTMAN
I’m asking the fucking questions
here, Private. Do you understand?!

RECRUIT #3
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Well thank you very much! Can I be in
charge for a while?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Are you shook up? Are you nervous?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, I am, sir!

HARTMAN
Do I make you nervous?

RECRUIT #3
Sir!…

HARTMAN
Sir, what? Were you about to
call me an asshole?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
How tall are you, Private?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, five foot nine, sir!

HARTMAN
Five foot nine? I didn’t
know they stacked shit
that high! You trying to squeeze an inch in on me somewhere, huh?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, no, sir.

HARTMAN
Bullshit! It looks to me like the best part of you ran down the crack of your mama’s ass and ended up as a brown stain on the mattress! I think you’ve been cheated!

Where in hell are you from anyway, Private?

RECRUIT #3
Sir, Texas, sir!

HARTMAN
Holy dogshit! Texas! Only
steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy! And you don’t look much like a steer to me, so that
kinda narrows it down!
Do you suck dicks?

COWBOY
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
Are you a peter-puffer?

COWBOY
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
I’ll bet you’re the kind of guy that would
fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddam common courtesy to give him a reach-around! I’ll be watching you!

[Sergeant Hartman walks down the line to another recruit, a tall,
overtweight boy
]

HARTMAN
Did your parents have any
children that lived?

RECRUIT #4
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
I’ll bet they regret that! You’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece! What’s your name, fatbody?

RECRUIT #4
Sir, Leonard Lawrence, sir!

HARTMAN
Lawrence?
Lawrence, what, of Arabia?

RECRUIT #4
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
That name sounds like royalty! Are you
royalty?

RECRUIT #4
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
Do you suck dicks?

RECRUIT #4
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! I’ll bet you
could suck a golf ball
through a garden hose!

RECRUIT #4
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
I don’t like the name Lawrence!
Only faggots and sailors are called Lawrence! From now on you’re Gomer Pyle!

PYLE
Sir, yes, sir!

[Pyle has the trace of a strange smile on his face]

HARTMAN
Do you think I’m cute, Private Pyle? Do you think I’m funny?

PYLE
Sir, no, sir!

HARTMAN
Then wipe that disgusting grin off your face!

PYLE
Sir, yes, sir!

[Sergeant Hartman waits for a moment]

HARTMAN
Well, any fucking time, sweetheart!

PYLE
Sir, I’m trying, sir.

HARTMAN
Private Pyle, I’m gonna give you three
seconds. Excactly three fucking seconds, to wipe that stupid-looking grin off your face, or I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you!
One… Two…Three!

[Pyle purses his lips but continues to smile involuntarily]

PYLE
Sir, I can’t help it, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! Get on your
knees, scumbag!

[Pyle gets down on his knees]

HARTMAN
Now choke yourself!

[Pyle places his hands around his throat as if to choke himself]

HARTMAN
Goddamn it, with my hand,
numbnuts!!

[Pyle reaches for Sergeant Hartman’s hand. Hartman jerks it away]

HARTMAN
Don’t pull my fucking hand over there! I said choke yourself!
Now lean forward and choke yourself!

[Pyle leans forward so that his neck rests in Sergeant Hartman’s open hand]

[Hartman chokes Pyle, as he gags and starts to turn red in the face]

HARTMAN
Are you through grinning?

PYLE
(barely able to speak)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! I can’t hear you!

PYLE
(gasping)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
Bullshit! I still can’t hear you! Sound off like you got a pair!

PYLE
(gagging)
Sir, yes, sir!

HARTMAN
That’s enough! Get on your feet!

[Sergeant Hartman releases Pyle’s throat. Pyle gets to his feet,
breathing heavily
]

HARTMAN
Private Pyle, you had best square your ass away and start shitting me
Tiffany cuff-links or I will definitely fuck you up!

PYLE
Sir, yes, sir!

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44 Responses to “CLASSIC SCENE: “Let Me See Your War Face””

  1. Nice write-up. That’s a great scene for sure. Ermey actually improved many of his lines.

    Like

    • Thanks man! Yeah, I considered giving him a credit when I wrote down the screenwriters. Ermey deserves the utmost respect for his delivery here, but then, that was his job at one point apparently. It must have come as second nature to him.

      Like

    • Kubrick would say……”That’s great…….let’s do it again……and again…….and again……and again”…….and R. Lee Ermey would start to forget what he had just done and have to immerse himself back to that train of thought over and over again until Kubrick was satisfied! And what happened……….we ended up with one of the greatest films of all time! Powerful shit! Vincent D’Onofrio said it almost drove him insane and he wouldn’t swap that experience for anything else in his life and he would forever be grateful to Stanley Kubrick! Man…….the guy was a genius! To think that it was filmed in London is just incredible!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was a film of two halves for me. When they actually go to Vietnam, it’s still good stuff but the first half in the training barracks is soooo good that the second suffers as a result. Ermey is absolutely phenomenal.

        Like

  2. Classic scene right here Mark for sure! When I think of drill sergeants I think of R. Lee Ermey.

    Like

    • Haha! Yeah, man. I’m the same. Ermey is the definitive drill sergeant isn’t he? It was great to hear him voice the soldiers in Toy Story as well. It would seem that Pixar were on the same wave length.

      Like

  3. Knocked it out of the park with this one mate! Absolutely love the film and this scene is just brilliant. So funny yet proper brutal.

    Like

  4. I don’t laugh a lot in movies but this scene always has me in stitches. Then I realize how terrifying it would be if I was in their position.

    Like

    • Haha! Absolutely Nick. I think it has that effect on all of us. It’s a nervous kind of laughter. I could watch this scene over and over, though. It’s been a real favourite of mine for a very long time.

      Like

  5. Classic scene and great backstory you mentioned with Ermey improving his lines. I read that originally he was just a technical advisor having actually served at Paris Island as a DI, as you mention, in the late 60s almost exactly like the film. I guess that the instructional video where he went on a full on tirade like a DI would convinced Kubrick he was right for the part. The movie is better off for it and he got a Golden Globe nomination too. Great post. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Yeah, apparently Ermey screamed at Kubrick in DI style to convince him he was the right man for the role. Someone else had already been cast. Thankfully, Ermey got the role. He’s outstanding.

      Like

  6. Great spotlight here Mark! Man, what a Sergeant! I could see Tommy Lee Jones play this role perfectly, he’s got this naturally grumpy demeanor, ahah.

    Like

    • Thanks Ruth. I know the language is very profane but it still deserves respect.
      Good call on Tommy Lee Jones, I can totally see him managing a role like this as well. Pacino is another that likes to bellow. I can see him pull it off. He is only about 4 ft tall, though. πŸ˜‰

      Like

      • A few scenes I saw Tommy did in Capt. America made me think he could do this drill perfectly!

        Ahahaha, I think Al is not um, military-like. As you said, it’s hard to take someone seriously when you have look down on him when he talks! πŸ˜€ I wonder if he’s about my height, I’m 5’3″, he..he..

        Like

      • I haven’t seen Capt America but I will at some point.

        Al was great as military man in Scent of A Woman but I don’t even think he’s 5′ 3. I reckon he’s about 4′ 2. Haha.

        Like

      • I quite like Capt. America, and Tommy Lee Jones is such a scene stealer. He’s just awesome in it!

        Ahahaha, now that’s mean! 4’2″?? He’s practically a Hobbit!! I did see Scent of a Woman, I forgot he’s a military guy there, but that’s how he lost his vision I reckon. I like that film.

        Like

      • I do like Lee Jones very much. He’s a great actor. Grumpy as hell but always very effective.

        Yeah, Scent of a Woman was a fantastic little film and Bilbo…sorry… Pacino, was superb in it. He bellows with the best of them in that movie.

        Like

      • I kinda like his grumpy-ness for some reason. I find it endearing, ahah. If you like him, then you’ll love his role in Capt. America.

        Ahah, we should start calling him Al Bilbo, ahahaha. Yeah, it’s a great film. I think even Chris O’Donnell was great in it and he’s normally not a strong actor.

        Like

      • I’m sure I will. I like his grumpiness as well. Did you ever see the tv mini-series “Lonesome Dove” with Lee Jones and Robert Duvall? Great western and well worth a look if you haven’t. He was a grumpy sod in that but still fantastic.

        Haha! Yeah, Al Pa-Bilbo! πŸ˜‰
        Really liked O’Donnell in that too. Don’t think I’ve ever liked him in anything else but great in Scent of a Woman.

        Like

  7. That is a great scene. What’s scary is, Ermy really did that stuff for a living. LOL That’s why he comes across so authentic there.

    Like

  8. Definitely a classic scene, and you’d be surprised by just how realistic it is, too. Love this movie. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Cheers Chris. I absolutely love it. Ermey really deals out the goods here, doesn’t he? Frightening good stuff. The man’s an absolute demon and this is one of my all time favourites. In fact, this feature should possess many, if not all, of my favourites. They’ll be delivered sporadically, though. Thanks for dropping in again, man.

      Like

  9. Top scene from one of my all time favourite movies. Ermy has done this role in every film ever since πŸ™‚

    Like

    • It’s a beauty, man. Isn’t it? I just love Ermey in this movie. You’re right, though, most if not all of his roles were very similar but his is still his finest.

      Like

  10. Just Saw Ermey in an episode of The X-Files last night playing a preacher faking he was a stigmatic.

    I like this performance just a wee bit more. I am a big fan of this film and this scene in particular.

    “What do we get for ten dollars?”
    “Every t’ing you want.”

    Like

  11. jackdeth72 Says:

    Hi, Mark:

    Great write up on an iconic piece of cinema!

    One that would never have happened had Bruce Willis not had a difference of opinion with Kubrick and left the project. Leaving then Technical Adviser, R. Lee Ermey an opportunity to ad lib an audition with Mr. Kubrick and own the role of D.I Hartmann.

    Still think it was a snub and Ermey was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor nomination!

    Like

    • Hi Jack!

      Bruce Willis, you say? I had it down it was someone else entirely. For the life of me, I can’t remember his name, though. He wasn’t that well known. If it was Willis, then that’s a great piece of trivia there. Nice one, man.

      Totally agree on Ermey missing out on a Supp. Actor nom. What more did the man have to do?

      Like

  12. A top-five Kubrick scene. Been too long since I’ve seen that movie, too.

    Well done!

    Like

    • Thanks John. It certainly is one of Kubrick’s finest scenes. It’s probably my favourite, to be honest. It’s always the first one that jumps into my head when I think of Kubrick movies. He’s done so many, though.

      Like

  13. Top scene man, long time since I’ve seen the film.

    Like

  14. “Pyle!!”

    “Gomer fucking Pyle!!! did you forget your fucking name??”

    Like

  15. When I think of classic scenes, I think of this one. Good call! πŸ™‚

    Like

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