Born on the Fourth of July Movie Poster

Trivia for Born on the Fourth of July

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  • The entire film was shot in shades of red, white, or blue, depending on the emotional level (battle scenes are all in reddish hues, dream sequences in white, sadness in blue, etc).
  • The last scene of the film to be shot - in a race against time as the sun was going down - was the wheelchair fight between Tom Cruise and Willem Dafoe.
  • Oliver Stone's then wife Elizabeth is mentioned in the closing credit roll as Naijo No Ko. This Japanese term means "with the help of my wife" or, more colloquially, "I owe my success to my better half".
  • When Ron is sitting at a desk in Mexico, the book "All Quiet on the Western Front" is shown on the desk. It is considered one of the greatest anti-war books ever written.
  • Tom Cruise had initially talked to Oliver Stone about taking the lead role in Wall Street (1987), but Stone had already given the role to Charlie Sheen. Stone then suggested he be cast in Born on the Fourth of July (1989).
  • Ron Kovic and Oliver Stone wrote much of the script together at a café in Venice, California.
  • The studio was initially very dubious about the casting of Tom Cruise in the lead, as he hadn't really tackled such a heavily dramatic role before.
  • Tom Cruise was born on the third of July.
  • Charlie Sheen was considered for the part of Ron Kovic.
  • A copy of "Johnny Got His Gun," a popular anti-war novel about World War I, is visible on Ron's hospital bed when he learns he will never walk again. In the novel, the main character is a soldier who is mutilated beyond recognition in a war; he has lost both of his arms and legs as well as his sight and hearing.
  • The film's anti-war message meant that Universal was very nervous about its box-office chances, so they kept the budget low. To keep costs down, most of the cast didn't receive an upfront salary.
  • Second part of Oliver Stone Vietnam trilogy. The other two are Platoon (1986) and Heaven & Earth (1993).
  • Oliver Stone wanted to make the movie in Vietnam, but relations with that country and the U.S. were still frosty after the war, so it was made in the Philippines instead.
  • The word "fuck" is used 289 times throughout the film.
  • During the demonstration, one of the speakers says that the Bronze Star and Purple Heart honors he earned in Vietnam mean nothing. These are the same two honors that Oliver Stone and the real Ron Kovic received after serving in Vietnam.
  • Including cameos by Oliver Stone, there are at least eleven other actors credited in this film, that also appeared in Oliver Stone's earlier Vietnam War film Platoon (1986).
  • Al Pacino turned down the role of Kovic's father. Several years earlier, another version was proposed with Pacino as Kovic, and William Friedkin directing.
  • This film represents one of the rare instances where Oliver Stone was able to cast his very first choice for a starring role in one of his motion pictures. Tom Cruise was Stone's definite preference for the role of Ron Kovic, a casting decision that Kovic ultimately stood by.
  • Oliver Stone became the sixteenth man to win a second directing Oscar, joining an elite pantheon that includes Milos Forman, Billy Wilder, David Lean, Elia Kazan, and John Ford. Since his win, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuaron have been added to the list.
  • For the duration of filming the scenes after Ron is paralyzed, Tom Cruise stayed in and used a wheelchair off the set as much as possible.
  • The real Ron Kovic gave Tom Cruise his Bronze Star for his performance in this movie.
  • Oliver Stone was presented his Best Director Oscar for this film by his former film school teacher Martin Scorsese.
  • Kyra Sedgwick was pregnant with her first child (Travis Bacon) during this shoot.
  • According to Ed Lauter, he thought about the deaths of his mother, and his friends Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan, to help him get into character for his scene. He did ten takes.
  • Macaulay Culkin had a small role as a kid, but was cut out of the film.
  • The actor who played young Ron Kovic, Bryan Larkin, was originally from Massapequa, New York, the town the character he was playing was from, and where the bulk of the movie takes place. Of course, most of the movie was filmed in Texas, including the young Ron Kovic scenes. Ironically, Bryan Larkin left his hometown of Massapequa for Texas to film scenes that are meant to be in Massapequa.
  • Oliver Stone and Tom Cruise both expressed interest in using a nerve agent to cause genuine paralysis in Cruise's legs, but they were unable to find a substance that was safe enough to guarantee no permanent damage.
  • Oliver Stone had real animal feces brought on set for the enema scenes in the VA hospital.
  • Nicolas Cage and Sean Penn were considered for the role of Ron Kovic.
  • Frank Whaley was considered for the role of Tommy Kovic before being cast to play the part of Timmy.
  • Raymond J. Barry and Caroline Kava, who play Mr. and Mrs. Kovic, parents to Ron Kovic, previously appeared together in Year of the Dragon (1985), a movie which was also co-written by Oliver Stone. In that movie, it's Raymond J. Barry who's plays a Vietnam veteran.
  • Tom Cruise and Willem Dafoe were also both born during the month of July. Tom Cruise was born on July 3rd and Dafoe was born on July 22nd.
  • The scenes of Tom Cruise in a bar in Mexico were actually shot in a town in Northern Philippines called "Vigan". Vigan is a UNESCO heritage site for its colonial historic houses and cobbled streets.
  • While shooting the initial bar scenes (purported to be in Mexico, but actually in a historic town of Philippines called Vigan), Oliver Stone and Tom Cruise stayed in an old colonial B&B called "Villa Angela". The B&B has preserved the day-shoot roster of the film and this can be found displayed in its walls on the first floor. The room where Tom Cruise stayed during the shoots, is called Cuarto del Señor (Room of the Master), and has a framed photo of Tom Cruise during the shoot.
  • Three Baldwin brothers are in the film, William Baldwin, Daniel Baldwin, and Stephen Baldwin. They do not share any screentime.
  • Ron Kovic is the uncle of Funhaus host, Adam Kovic.
  • Despite second billing, Willem Dafoe doesn't appear until one hour and thirty-six minutes into the movie.
  • This is the first Oliver Stone movie filmed in 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
  • When this project was initially being assembled in 1979, original director William Friedkin dropped out. Daniel Petrie was then tapped to direct. According to Oliver Stone, Al Pacino, who was originally to play Kovic, had his reservations, but Stone considered him to be a competent director. Locations had been scouted and Pacino rehearsed, but money dried up that was promised by producer Martin Bregman. Although Stone felt crushed. He decided if he gained some clout in the industry, he would return to the project, which he did ten years later, as writer and director.
  • Set in Massapequa, New York. It is also the hometown of William, Daniel, and Stephen Baldwin as well as "Young Kovic" actor Bryan Larkin, who all appeared in the film.
  • Ron Kovic makes a brief cameo appearance as the disabled veteran in the parade at the beginning of the film, who is seen flinching at the sound of the fire crackers.
  • Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
  • On Prom Night in the movie, Ronnie's father laments that Vietnam is a long way to go to fight a war. Since Hanoi is twelve time zones away from Massapequa, it is literally the other side of the globe, making it the absolute farthest you could go.
  • In the beginning of the movie when young Ron Kovic is playing baseball, the camera catches the back of what appears to be his Jersey. It has STONE written on it.
  • The only Best Picture nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Sound, and Best Cinematography.
  • One of the co-editors on this film, David Brenner would also serve as the film editor for Independence Day (1996).
  • Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger were in Platoon(1986) another Oliver Stone directed movie.
  • The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Oliver Stone; and four Oscar nominees: Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Ron Kovic and Tom Berenger.
  • On the occasion of the film,s showing at the Berlin film festival in February of 1990, the Wall had come down so director Stone and his company United Artists president Michael William Jones used hammers and chisels they were given to chip away at the remnants of that symbol of conflict between West and East, of which the war in Viet Nam that was the basis for his film, was a part.
  • Taxi Driver has a disturbed Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle who tries to assassinate the president and goes on a killing spree at the ending. 1980's Don't Answer the Phone has crazed Vietnam Vet Kirk Smith stalking and murdering the women of Los Angeles. Also Christopher Walken's disturbed and suicidal Nick in the Deer Hunter winds up killing himself and endangering the people around him. And Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo in First Blood gets into a conflict with several locals and law enforcement officials; ends up going into crazy Vietnam flashbacks and winds up killing most of the town. All of this can be seen as part of the dangerous Vietnam Veteran Trend. In the 1970s, (and the early 80s); as the Vietnam War ended and the veterans came home and re-entered society, there was a fear that the veterans were disturbed, dangerous; might be a threat to society. This was a reflection of our overall ambivalence about the war in general. One of the outgrowths of these negative attitudes was that Vietnam Veterans were often portrayed in movies as dangerous, and self-destructive psychopaths. Taxi Driver, Don't Answer the Phone; First Blood and Deer Hunter were all part of this trend. This trend flip flopped in the mid to late 1980s where Vietnam Veterans were now being deified in the movies. Where John Rambo was a psychopath in First Blood Part 1; in Rambo: First Blood Part 2 he is enlisted by his sergeant Richard Crenna to go on a mission back to Vietnam to save POWs that are still trapped there. He goes from misunderstood Frankenstein-Psychopath in part 1, to hero in part 2. Arnold Schwartzenegger's Commando was another Vietnam Hero in the eighties; trying to save his daughter Alyssa Millano, who has been kidnapped by terrorists. Good Morning Vietnam has DJ Robin Williams entertaining the heroic soldiers of the Vietnam war; Born On the Fourth of July has Tom Cruise portraying an almost Christ-like paraplegic War Veteran Ron Kovic and his transition from from soldier to protester. And on television in the 1980s we had China Beach; which had Dana Delaney and the other heroic nurses of the Vietnam war dealing with the war and it's traumas. The transition in movies from Psychotic Kirk Smith in 1980s Don's Answer the Phone; to the saintly Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July nine years later is staggering; and suggests the dramatic transitions in society's attitudes towards the war during that period.
  • Another Tom-Is-Jesus role; with the poster bearing beautiful baby faced Cruise looking off in to the distance as he nobly suffers for the country. Cruise is definitely old school Hollywood. This, along with everything else Tom Cruise stars in; always portrays him in a saintly, or beautiful, or sexy beyond words. He never appears in anything unflattering. Unlike a serious character like Christian Bale; who is not afraid to make himself look ugly; as in the Machinist where he was a 90 weakling; or a fat aging criminal as in American Hustle. Cruise always has to make himself the hero. Which is why Christian Bale has an Oscar and Tom Cruise does not.
  • During the opening credits, Oliver Stone's director credit would appear over John F. Kennedy's face (as the Kovic family watches the president deliver his "Ask not what your country can do for you" speech on television). Stone would go on to direct JFK (1991), a film about solving the president's assassination.
  • Oliver Stone went on to work frequently with Tommy Lee Jones, casting him in JFK (1991), Natural Born Killers (1994), and his final Vietnam picture, Heaven & Earth (1993). Cast member Josh Evans is the son of Ali MacGraw, who appeared in Jones's first film, Love Story (1970).
  • Frank Whaley and Michael Wincott also appeared in Oliver Stone's next film The Doors (1991).
  • One of the guys in Ron Kovic's platoon is played by William Mapother. In real life, he is Tom Cruise's cousin. The connection: Tom's legal name is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.
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