Top Gun Memos: The Making and Legacy of an Iconic Movie

Front Cover
Citation Press, Oct 15, 2021 - Art - 326 pages

TOP GUN MEMOS: The Making and Legacy of an Iconic Movie tells the comprehensive story of the long-lived movie "Top Gun" through the eyes of the people on the ground - and in the air - who made it. It drills down on the art and artistry present in its scenes, while also looking unflinchingly at dangerous situations that arose during filming.

The book covers how the 1986 movie was made, starting at inception and traveling through green light, prep, principal photography, wrap, post-production, and launch. The next chapters cover the longevity of the film, its fans, and its legacy, answering why this movie became iconic when so many other great films remain quietly on the lists of the years they were released.

Top Gun Memos relies on interviews with 90 people and more than 1,250 pages of studio, production, government, and other documents, identified in more than 500 footnotes. That's especially important with a film as popular as "Top Gun," given widespread misinformation on the Internet.

The book is filled with behind-the-scenes stories above everything from the famous jacket to the stuntman on the motorcycle racing the F-14, from shooting on the USS Enterprise to aerial scenes shot above Fallon, Nev. These stories, often entertaining and fun, are recalled by movie crew and members of the Navy who contributed mightily to the success of "Top Gun."

Top Gun Memos also reports thoroughly about three dangerous situations that arose during production. Tom Cruise was nearly killed while filming the rescue scenes, something that received little attention at the time despite Navy commendations for the men who saved him. There was is an incident during aerial photography when an F-14 came too close to crew filming on a hilltop, sending people and gear flying. The book looks at the life and death of Art Scholl, one of America's best known stunt pilots, who crashed while shooting plate footage for "Top Gun."

The book goes a long way in explaining what happened to revered director Tony Scott, who jumped off a bridge in 2012, just as he, Tom Cruise, and Jerry Bruckheimer embarked on the long-awaited sequel to "Top Gun: Maverick." It also includes a chapter on Scott's legacy and significant contributions to film.

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Partial list of people interviewed for the book:


Donna Scott, wife of Director Tony Scott; Filmmakers: Executive Producer Bill Badalato; Cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball; First Assistant Director Dan Kolsrud; Second Assistant Director Sharon Mann; Production Designer John DeCuir Jr.; Casting Director Margery Simkin; Costume Designer Jimmy Tyson; Prop Master Mark Wade; Locations Manager Fred Baron; Transportation Coordinator Randy Peters; Harold Faltermeyer, musician and composer; Supervising Sound Editor Cecilia Hall; Editors Billy Weber and Chris Lebenzon; Gary Gutierrez, special photographic effects; Navy: Admiral USNR (Ret.) Pete Pettigrew; Admiral USN (Ret) Robert F. Willard; and former Navy aviators Lloyd 'Bozo' Abel, Dave 'Bio' Baranek, and John Semcken.




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