19 June 2007 | bkoganbing
The Second Siege of Bunker Hill
Taps is about the cadets of Bunker Hill Military Academy and their commanding officer, George C. Scott, and their reaction to the news of the closing of the Academy.
Scott announces at the graduation that the next year will be the final year of Bunker Hill. The Board of Trustees is selling off the place for its prime real estate value to be used for condominium development. Certainly an occurrence we've seen all over the country in many places and not something really desirable in many.
Cadet Major Timothy Hutton knows he will head the last graduating class at Bunker Hill. He and fellow cadets like Sean Penn and Tom Cruise aren't taking it lying down. They may be military cadets, but they've seen and grown up with student protests. Only these students have weapons and are trained in their use.
Can you really blame the cadets like Hutton who've actually in fact forgotten that soldiers carry out and don't make policy? I think it was significant that during the course of Taps it's mentioned that George C. Scott served with General Douglas MacArthur who gave him a sword for his service. It's also mentioned that Scott was passed over for promotion an advancement beyond being a brigadier general and was retired comfortably out to pasture at the Academy.
Scott's not the same kind of military man you see in Patton. Rather he's a lot like the Patton you see in that television film, Patton, the Last Days. A man so totally out of his element that when the accident and broken neck occurred he'd lost his will to live.
Anyway after a scuffle with some of the town louts who are less than enamored of Bunker Hill's military tradition. A town kid is accidentally killed when he tries to get Scott's military issue pistol and it discharges. In a court of law, the man would have been acquitted, but Scott answers to a higher law he lives by.
That scuffle threatens to close the school even for the last year and the kids seize it. It's a confrontation then between idealistic and wrongheaded youth and the real forces of law enforcement.
Ronny Cox contributes a very nice performance as the commanding general of the National Guard trying to keep a lid on the situation. His scenes with the idealistic and obstinate Hutton are the highlight of the film for me.
Tom Cruise and Sean Penn got their first real notice in this film right at the start of their respective mega-careers. Hutton has a nice followup to his Oscar winning performance from Ordinary People. And George C. Scott is, George C. Scott.