Born on the Fourth of July

The second film in Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy moves from the brutality of war in Platoon to its equally traumatic aftermath. Based on the memoir of combat veteran Ron Kovic, the film stars Tom Cruise as Kovic, whose gunshot wound in Vietnam left him paralyzed from the chest down. He is deeply embittered by neglect in a veteran's hospital and by the shattering of his patriotic idealism because of the horror and futility of the Vietnam conflict. While painfully and awkwardly adjusting to his disability and a changing definition of masculinity, Kovic joins the burgeoning movement of antiwar protest, culminating in a climactic appearance at the 1976 Democratic national convention. A powerfully intimate portrait that unfolds on an epic scale, Born on the Fourth of July is arguably Stone's best film (if you can forgive its often strident tone), and Cruise's Oscar-nominated role is uncompromising in its depiction of one man's personal anguish and political awakening. --Jeff Shannon

Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Production: Universal Pictures
  Won 2 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 25 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.2
Metacritic:
75
Rotten Tomatoes:
90%
R
Year:
1989
145
2,240 Views

Ron Kovic:
Washington?! Washington! [Washington arrives]I've been laying in my own shit for the last three hours. I've been pushing my call button and nobody comes. Why can't I have a bath? Why can't the sheets be changed in this goddamn place? Why can't the vomit be wiped off the goddamn floor once in a while?

Nurse Washington:
Don't you raise your voice to me Mr. Kovic, you watch your mouth.

Ron Kovic:
Look at my leg. It's twice as big as it ever was. When are you people gonna help me? Where's the doctor? I need to see the doctor- I need to see him now!

Nurse Washington:
He's not available now. He's too busy.

Ron Kovic:
He's always too busy.

Marvin:
What's eating you now, Kovic? You going off the deep end?

Ron Kovic:
[grabbing Marvin] Fucking shit! What do I have to do to make you people listen to me? I wanna be treated like a fucking human being! [slaps the valium hypodermic out of the nurse's hand] I don't want this fucking shit! You wanna keep me drugged all the time so I don't know what's going on. This place is a fuckin' slum!

Marvin:
You want out of here, man? Fine. We take that leg of yours, and we can get you out of here in two weeks!

Ron Kovic:
I want my leg.

Marvin:
Why?

Ron Kovic:
I want my leg!

Marvin:
Why? You can't feel it no how!

Ron Kovic:
[incredulous and angry] It's my leg! I want my leg, you understand? Can't you understand that? All's I'm sayin' is that I want to be treated like a human being! I fought for my country! I am a Vietnam veteran! I fought for my country!

Patient:
[off-camera] Shut the fuck up!

Ron Kovic:
And I think that I deserve to be treated...d- decent!

Marvin:
Vietnam? Vietnam don't mean nothing to me man, or any of these other people. You can take your Vietnam and shove it up your ass.

Mrs. Kovic:
What happend in that war? What happend to you? You need help, Ronnie, you need help.

Ron Kovic:
No, you need help! All your God and your bullshit dreams about me!

Mrs. Kovic:
You'll wake the whole neighborhood. [She starts telling the other children to go to bed]

Ron Kovic:
YOU ARE ASHAMED OF ME! You're EMBARRASSED by me.

Tommy Kovic:
Please, Mom, let me talk to him.

Mrs. Kovic:
You go to bed!

Ron Kovic:
FUCK YOU!

Mr. Kovic:
Don't you talk to your mother like that!

Mrs. Kovic:
What did you say to me?! [Comes back to Ron's room, enraged] WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME?? [Smacks Ron's face a couple of times and leaves; Ron strolls after her]

Ron Kovic:
FUCK YOU!!!

Mr. Kovic:
Ronnie, that's ENOUGH!

Mrs. Kovic:
You're gonna wake the whole neighborhood!

Ron Kovic:
OH, WAKE 'EM UP! TELL THEM! CUSACKS, CAMELLETTIS, WALSHES!! You tell them all! Tell them what they did to me. What they did to this country.

Mrs. Kovic:
[To Mr. Kovic] They're gonna call the police this time

Ron Kovic:
We went to Vietnam to stop communism!... We shot women and children!

Mrs. Kovic:
You didn't shoot women and children! What are you saying?

Ron Kovic:
That was the war, communism, the insidious evil! They told us to go.

Mrs. Kovic:
Yes, yes that's what they told us.

Ron Kovic:
Thou shalt not kill, Mom. Thou shalt not kill women and children! Thou shalt not kill! Remember? Isn't that what you taught us? Isn't that what they taught us?

Mrs. Kovic:
Stop it! Stop it!

Ron Kovic:
But they're the evil, Mom. They're the ones we should be fighting. They lied to me growing up, they lied to all of us, but it's not gonna work anymore. Not for you... for me... for anybody else.

Mrs. Kovic:
Stop it, stop it! As long as you're in this house, you will not talk that way. Eli, please stop him.

Mr. Kovic:
Ron, come on now... you made your point, now stop.

Ron Kovic:
No, I haven't made my point. Tell her, Dad. They're killing everybody now.

Mrs. Kovic:
I didn't force you to go!!

Ron Kovic:
YES, YOU DID! YES, YOU DID!!! It's all falling apart, Mom! King. Kennedy. Kent State. We all lost the war, Mom. Fucking Communism won! It's all for nothing!

Mrs. Kovic:
That is not true, Ronnie.

Ron Kovic:
What do you know, Ma? WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!?

Tommy Kovic:
Ron.

Ron Kovic:
What? Tell her, Tommy. You tell her, Dad! Tell her it's all a lie! It's a fucking lie! Tell her God's as dead as my legs. There's no God and there's no country. It's just me... and this fucking wheelchair for the rest... of my life. [Unzips his pants and sticks his hand in] It's just me and this... dead... penis.

Mrs. Kovic:
[Hysterically disgusted] OH MY GOD! RONNIE!!

Mr. Kovic:
Don't, Ronnie! Not with the catheter! For God sake!

Ron Kovic:
DEAD... PENIS!

Mrs. Kovic:
Oh, GOD! Eli, I can't take this anymore.

Mr. Kovic:
[Notices the children] Go to your rooms. Go to your ROOMS!

Mrs. Kovic:
[To Ron] THE HELL WITH YOU!!!

Ron Kovic:
In church they said that it's a sin if you play with your penis, I wish I could.

Mrs. Kovic:
Don't say penis in this house!

Ron Kovic:
Penis!

Mrs. Kovic:
Stop!

Ron Kovic:
Penis! Big fucking erect penis, MA!

Mrs. Kovic:
STOOOOOOP!!

Ron Kovic:
PENIS! PENIIIIIIIIIS!!!

Mrs. Kovic:
[Praying in tears] Lord, he won't let go, what do I do?

Ron Kovic:
I really don't have time to learn to use it. It's gone in some jungle. Some fucking jungle over there. It's just gone. [Notices his mother sits down crying, and he, too, is in tears] I'm sorry it happened this way. I'm sorry if you're sad, Mom. [Softens] I'm so sorry you're sad. I'm sorry.

Ron Kovic:
[to a news camera, outside the 1972 Republican Convention] Do you hear me? Can I break through your complacency? Can I have an inch... a moment of your compassion for the human beings that are suffering in this war? Do you hear me when I say this war is a crime? When I say I am not as bitter about my wound as the men who have lied to the people of this country? Do you hear me?

...

Ron Kovic:
Why do they want to hide us? Why won't they let the veterans of that war speak tonight? Because they don't wanna know, they don't wanna see us. They wanna hide us because they've lied and cheated to us for so long - but we're not gonna run away and hide anymore. We're gonna win because we love this country. We love this country more than they could ever know. We fought for it. We gave our bodies because we loved it and believed everything it stood for, and tonight we're ashamed of it. And we've come from all the little towns, thousands of us to get this country back again; to make it whole again. Truth, honesty, integrity - this is the lost American dream here tonight, and we're gonna take it back!

...

Ron Kovic:
We're never, never gonna let the people of the United States forget that war, because the moment we do, there's gonna be another war, and another, and another. That's why we're gonna be there for the rest of our lives telling you that the war happened - it wasn't just some nightmare - it happened, and you're not gonna sweep it under the rug because you didn't like the ratings, like some television show. This wheelchair, our wheelchairs, this steel, our steel is your Memorial Day on wheels, we are your Yankee Doodle Dandy coming home...

Republican delegate:
Traitor! [spits in Ron's face]

Ron Kovic:
Is that what we get? Spit in the face! I've got as much right to be here as any of these delegates. I fought for that right. You're not gonna stop me! You're not gonna shut me up! I'm gonna remind you of this war for the rest of my life so what happened there never happens again!

Ron Kovic:
What are we gonna do now?

Charlie:
Fuck 'em.

Ron Kovic:
Yeah. Sure. How are we gonna get outta here?

Charlie:
Fuck 'em all. Fuck the whores. Fuck the cab drivers... fuck Mexico. Fuck Nixon, fuck Vietnam, fuck'em all.

Ron Kovic:
Yeah, Charlie, but how are we gonna get outta here?

Charlie:
They made me kill babies, man. Little gook babies. You ever have to kill a baby?

Ron Kovic:
Yeah, O.K. come on, we gotta get back to the villa.

Charlie:
FUCK YOU! [drawing closer]

Ron Kovic:
Gotta get back to the villa.

Charlie:
What do you mean "ok"?! What do you mean "ok"? You ever have to kill a baby, you ever have to kill a little gook baby?!!

Ron Kovic:
What the fuck do you know what I did!! [wheels away]

Charlie:
I didn't think so. I didn't think so, you're full of shit.

Ron Kovic:
No, you are! The fuck? Leave me the fuck alone. You're nuts, you know that? You're nuts. The fuckin sun is goin' down! what do you know what the fuck comes out here at night? We gotta get outta here.

Charlie:
Don't shit me, Kovic. [again drawing closer] You never killed a baby. You never HAD to kill a baby because... you never put your soul into that war. You never put your soul on the line, man!

Ron Kovic:
How do you know? How the fuck do you know? maybe I killed babies. Maybe I killed more babies than you did, you FUCK! Maybe I killed a whole bunch' a babies, but I don't talk about it! I don't have to talk about it.(wheels away)

Charlie:
Why not? Wh-Why the fuck not? What do you think you are- better than anybody else? You a hero is that it?

Ron Kovic:
Fuck you!

Charlie:
Maybe you got a whole bunch'a fuckin' medals, but deep down you know you're full of shit. You never fought that war. YOU WEREN'T EVEN THERE, MAN!

Ron Kovic:
(Stops. Turns back, enraged) What the fuck did you mean "I wasn't there", man? What did you mean?

Charlie:
What the fuck are you hidin' from?

Ron Kovic:
I'm not the one that's hidin'. You're the one that's hidin'- down here in Mexico- you're the one that's hidin'! What are you hidin' from you whiny fuck!

Charlie:
Don't shit me. You never killed anybody or anything, did ya, Kovic? Did ya?

Ron Kovic:
Did you?!

Charlie:
DID YA?!!!

Ron Kovic:
Did you?!

Charlie:
Ya ever look at yourself in the fuckin' mirror?

Ron Kovic:
Did you?

Charlie:
Fuck you.

Ron Kovic:
You.

Charlie:
No. You! FUCK YOU!!!

Ron Kovic:
No, FUCK YOU!!

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