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The Lords of Discipline (1983)

80 customer reviews

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(Feb 28, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The year is 1964 and Carolina Military Institute has admitted, for the first time, a young black man into its freshman class. Will McClean (Keith) is asked to protect him from The Ten - a secret society of cadets dedicated to eliminating from the school those it deems "unfit."

Many who have vivid memories of this 1982 dramatic thriller about racism, hazing, and heroism at a hallowed Southern military academy will delight in its DVD release. The Lords of Discipline was based on Pat Conroy's semi-autobiographical novel about his days attending the famous Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. The film is set at the fictionalized Carolina Military Institute (and shot on locations in England) in 1964 where freshmen are customarily put through hazing rituals that may have been routine at the time, but seem positively brutal today. During Will McClean's (David Keith) senior year, a black cadet is being admitted for the first time. Will's military faculty mentor (an already grizzled Robert Prosky) charges him with making sure things don't get too out of hand with this new situation and the inevitable initiation rituals. The black cadet certainly has his horrifying tribulations, but there's also a geeky white plebe who may be in bigger trouble. During Will's awakening to the deeper, darker goings on, he discovers a secret society under the hand of the commandant (the great G.D. Spradlin) that carries out more than just hazing rituals when it deems necessary. The suspense, sense of time and place, and array of superb performances are all ample reasons to recommend The Lords of Discipline as a classic keeper or a casual view. David Keith gives a strong performance as the conflicted upper-class cadet. His strong jaw and gentle drawl was coming off a strong supporting role in An Officer and a Gentleman and he went on to several more interesting starring roles before petering out as a leading man. In fact, the cast is pretty great all around, including solid, young-buck turns by Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) and a familiar face credited as "Wild Bill" Paxton who went on to be not so wild in One False Move, Twister, Titanic, and many others. --Ted Fry

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: David Keith, Robert Prosky, G.D. Spradlin, Barbara Babcock, Michael Biehn
  • Directors: Franc Roddam
  • Writers: Lloyd Fonvielle, Pat Conroy, Thomas Pope
  • Producers: Basil Rayburn, Gabriel Katzka, Herb Jaffe
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, Dolby, Digital Sound, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00062IDBU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,616 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lords of Discipline (1983)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Roger J. Buffington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This one is an old favorite of mine, which I pre-ordered on DVD the instant I learned it was available. I have an old VHS recording of the film, which I have viewed many times. I have also read the book many times, and I consider it to be Conroy's best work.

This is the story of four young men at Carolina Military Institute, a fictional military academy located in South Carolina, which is of course a pseudonym for The Citadel, which is a fine military academy that really does exist. The film is set in the 1960s. The first black cadet (first year cadets are called "knobs" at the Institute) has just arrived. A secret society within the Institute, known as "The Ten" has pledged that no black will ever graduate from the Institute, regardless of ability.

David Keith turns in his customary excellent performance as the black cadet's designated mentor. The plot moves at a fast pace, but nevertheless does not feel rushed. Purists have criticized the fact that the film leaves out many sub-plots contained in the novel. I feel that the movie made the right choices about what to keep and what to delete, and of course these choices had to be made unless this was to be a 12 hour miniseries.

I liked the script, the acting, and the ending. This is a wonderful film. It is the type of film that most viewers will watch periodically over the years, and I am delighted that it will shortly be available on DVD.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Levin on July 16, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a great film that deals with a traditional "Southern Racial Discrimination" at a military academy, it's a movie that should have been fully restored on DVD and released long time ago. So why now at Viacom/Paramount Picture it's been listed for a 2010 DVD release beats my imagination.

Can any one tell the studio that we need it on DVD right now in 2005 and not by 2010.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jay Malone on August 28, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I saw the movie before I read the book. This is a typical adaptation of a long novel. Yes, the novel was better, but the novel was DIFFERENT! A similar situation occurs with The Caine Mutiny as well as The Godfather. Written stories allow you to explore aspects of character and situation that just can't be effectively portrayed in film. In film, you can't have the character's thoughts effectively presented. The film concentrated on the relationship between Will and Pearce, while the book actually had two plots-Will and Pearce and Will and Annie Kate. Instead of comparing book and film, treat each as seperate entities and enjoy them independently. In this case, the movie was enjoyable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Tolle on May 11, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I guess you could say I was fortunate enough to see this movie before reading the book so I didn't have to make hard comparisons until later. Yes, the book is much more detailed and interesting at certain points but it would be impossible to adapt it all into the movie. Standing on its own, this film still delivers.

Will McClean is in his senior year at the Carolina Military Institute in 1964 in the Deep South. For the first time in the institute's history, they're going to admit a black cadet and this at a time when racial issues are still readily evident. Will is directed by his chain of command to protect this individual and track his progress. What is not known right away is information about a secret society within the institute known as `The 10'. This group recruits the best cadets from within the ranks but prey on the weak and unfortunate who they decide are not worthy of remaining in the institute. And they use whatever methods they deem necessary to force out the undesirables.

As the year progresses, disturbing events begin to happen and Will learns new information about `The 10' regarding just how powerful and influential they are. So much so that it may seriously jeopardize his relationship with his roommates and his career. Forced to question his beliefs in an honorable military system and compelled to make the right decisions no matter the cost, he risks everything in a dramatic and exciting showdown with `The 10'. This leads to a nice conclusion to the movie.

If you have or haven't read the book that this movie is based on, it's really not that bad in and of itself. There are a few weak points now and again but the cast is good, the story holds together, and the acting is pretty solid. Just don't go into watching this while comparing everything to the book because that'll be a let down. I know because I watched it again after reading the book. With that in mind, I recommend this movie to everyone.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Ager on May 31, 2005
Format: DVD
I remember giving this movie repeated views on vhs and enjoying every minute. Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I never read the book so can only go by the film on it's own merit.

The performances are what make this really worthwhile - Michael Beihn stands out in a pre-terminator performance - and the direction is solid.

Just one question ... WHY A 2010 RELEASE DATE??? ... let's hope this gets pushed forward!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By on June 4, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
No movie under six hours could have captured anywhere near the complexity and subplots of Pat Conroy's novel about life in a military academy. For that I was very forgiving about what what cut out, even painfully so. We see no flashbacks of the main characters first three years, there was almost nothing about his passion for basketball, and the love story could have been a movie in itself.
But things had to go, and rather than treat them badly, I have no resentment for what they left out. The movie does concentrate on some important things however, and for awhile, does it well. We see the often cruel treatment upperclassmen give underclassmen, and can see the reasoning why this seems to be necessary. It is the overriding theme of the book, and shows the givers and takers of the harrassment very well.
It also does tackle one of the important subplots, which is the treatment of the first black recruit to the academy. The way the recruit was treated is shown in all of it's frightening detail. David Keith, as the assigned mentor to the recruit, does his job perfectly here by not showing too much sympathy.
But then it all crashes down by trying to come up with a clean, Hollywood, more upbeat ending. The worst sin is the handling of the Pignatello character to make it much less tragic. To leave out what happens after the court martial is to take away one of the dramatic points of the story. With that said, the ending was also much too neat. The way it is handled fails to illustrate the parallel love-hate relationship the main character has with the academy.
This was far too personal a story to be glossed over like this, and I wish Pat Conroy had had more pull to get it done right. He should have chosen the Larry McMurtry route and got the story filmed as a mini-series.
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