"If [the navy divers]'s lucky, he dies young two hundred feet beneath the waves. Because that's the closest he will ever get to becoming a hero."
- Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro) to diving trainees
"Some things just don't mix, do they'"
- Mister Pappy (Hal Holbrook) to Billy Sunday
"Why do you want this so badly'"--Jo (Aunjanue Ellis) "Because they said I couldn't have it."
- Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.)
"Since when does deserving mean anything'"
- Billy Sunday to Carl Brashear
USA Today - 11/10/2000
"...Cuba Gooding Jr. [gets to] flex both physical and acting muscles for once....De Niro cagily crafts Sunday, a composite character, into a memorable and complex creation..."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 12/01/2000
"...Gooding conveys fierce dignity and simmering power..."
Box Office - 11/01/2000
"...Gooding's solid performance is one of the most powerful aspects of MEN OF HONOR....[He] creates a credible depiction of Brashear's phenomenal strength of character..."
Total Film - 04/01/2001
"...Gooding Jr. is effortlessly appealing as Brashear and you'll root for him to succeed....Very noble..."
Los Angeles Times - 11/10/2000
"...Gooding and De Niro have the talent to pull it off, and the film emerges as a dynamic entertainment with the punch of an especially spectacular sports event..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 11/10/2000
"...[Cuba Gooding Jr.] delivers a strong, convincing performance....The movie sells itself..."
An heroic life gets a suitably dramatic retelling in George Tillman, Jr.'s docudrama MEN OF HONOR, based on the true story of Carl Brashear, the first African American to become a United States Navy master diver. The film employs the conventional yet pleasurable against-all-odds narrative. Carl Brashear (played with noble grace by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is the son of a degraded Southern sharecropper. Determined to succeed in the vocation he believes he was born for, Brashear enlists in the navy. Once there, however, the determined young man finds his dream inaccessible--thwarted by the forces of institutional and personal racism. When, after a long and difficult struggle, he is finally allowed into diving school, he finds himself under the authority of Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro), a former master diver whose injured lung has left him permanently above water. Sunday becomes simultaneously Brashear's most vicious adversary and most loyal supporter, motivating him to succeed. The story that follows is a highly emotional wave of ups and downs: Brashear overcomes one barrier only to be met by the next, even larger one. MEN OF HONOR is at times heartbreaking and painful to watch, but the triumphant ending makes for a deeply satisfying payoff.
African Americans |
Theatrical release: November 10, 2000.
MEN OF HONOR was shot in Washington and Oregon. A naval base set was built from scratch on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.
Estimated budget: $32 million.
Cuba Gooding Jr., producer Robert Teitel, director George Tillman Jr., and the actors playing the diving trainees all dove once at a navy facility so that they could get a real sense of the task's danger and difficulty.
The MEN OF HONOR script was sent to the U.S. Department of Defense in the preproduction stage in order to ensure the navy's cooperation.
Though the script was based on Carl Brashear's true story, the character played by Robert De Niro--Billy Sunday--was invented by the screenwriter.
Carl Brashear advised the special effects crew throughout filming.
MEN OF HONOR was originally titled NAVY DIVER but was changed in July 2000.