Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE

Only now does it occur to me...  that Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton were good 'ole boy soldier cronies back in 1983, three years before ALIENS.

Based on a novel by Pat Conroy that I read for a high school English class, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE is set at a Citadel-esque military academy on the cusp of the Civil Rights era.
Biehn and Paxton play a couple of classic asshole hazer bullies who usually torment the weakest of the new guys

Paxton (far left) and Biehn (second from left) do their thing.

and enacting hardcore harassments, like turning the fat guy into Paxton's personal piggy bank.

Things take a turn for the worse when the school admits its first-ever black cadet, and Biehn and Paxton (along with a shadowy organization called "The Ten," that seems like a blend of the KKK and Yale's Skull and Bones) begin a torturous, drawn-out persecution of the black guy, who's only friend on campus is David Keith (unfortunately, not Keith David).

Biehn chomps the scenery, trying to outdo Paxton's crazy face.

The culmination of all this is probably the scene where Paxton and Biehn sing with the full company of cadets and proceed in a behavior I can only describe as trying to "Out-Dixie" one another.  Well done.

Also, Paxton is credited as "Wild" Bill Paxton.  It's too bad that didn't stick!

Anyway, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and one which continued in THE TERMINATOR (1984), ALIENS (1986), NAVY SEALS (1990), and TOMBSTONE (1993).

P.S. There's also a meaty character role (Colonel "Bear" Berrineau) for crotchety old man and cigar-chomping virtuoso Robert Prosky (GREMLINS 2, CHRISTINE).  Always good to see ya, Mr. Prosky!



The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Hello Sean,

That's great. I have to add a few things here. First, maybe I need to see this film. I enjoy both actors.

Second, John Hughes must have seen this film and thought "Wild" Bill would be perfect for Weird Science (1985).

Third, I had no idea Ed Bishop of classic Gerry Anderson UFO fame was in also in this film.

What is your general impression? Worth seeing.

Sean Gill said...


Good to see you– LORDS OF DISCIPLINE isn't a masterpiece per se, but it's definitely worth watching. It doesn't quite retain the nuances of much of what I remember about the novel, but it's well-plotted and mostly well-acted, and manages a balance of nostalgia, action, and social commentary. Definitely, if you're in the mood for a military academy flick!