Screen capture "borrowed" from imdb.com. 

 What's in a name? Well, it's enough to spur an idea to blog about a movie that came out when


Searching For T.J.'s Bar

Screen capture "borrowed" from imdb.com. 

 What's in a name? Well, it's enough to spur an idea to blog about a movie that came out when I was three. You remember An Officer and a Gentleman? Of course you do. You're singing "Up Where We Belong" right now. Don't lie, it only makes it worse.

The question of the day is this: Is T.J.'s Bar, as seen in  An Officer and a Gentleman, a real bar? To answer this, a bit of AOAAG (try saying that, it's fun) history is in order.

The first thing to know is that they couldn't shoot the film in Pensacola, Fla., where the story is properly set. The Navy wouldn't let the production crew on the base, so another location had to besought out. Say hello to Port Townsend.  A fitting substitute, Port Townsend offered naval base access, beach-front properties, and enough locals to fill the roles of extras.

But does it have a bar called T.J.'s? In the category "Port Townsend bars used in movies" show me T.J.'s!

Sorry. T.J.'s bar is based on a now closed Pensacola bar called Trader John's. Frequented by officer's candidates, the defunct bar was the site of many encounters between "ice cream suits" and "Debs," just like in the movie. Fret not my friends. Those bar scenes had to be filmed somewhere, right?

For this information, we turn to an inside source. Someone who was in the movie! Think back to the officer's ball (no, not the one of the naked Richard Gere, you perv) scene. See that band? All local guys, one of whom is the father of SW's very own Aja Pecknold. Greg was the band leader in the scene, and I'm told is a dead ringer for Ralph Lauren.

"Paramount (the studio that produced AOAAG) called the musician's union and asked if they could put some guys together," Greg says. "We thought thought they wanted a good band, but it turned out they wanted a cheesy band. They had us play 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree' and "Feelings,' which is the stereotype for cheesy songs. It was a bunch of good players sounding bad. We did our best."

And as for the bar...

"There were two bars in the movie," Greg says. "The one where the fight happened and the other one. The bar where they shot the fight was called the Town Tavern (now the Water St. Brew Pub) and they did that scene right in front of it. The other place, they built on a set somewhere."

There you have it. Not only is the bar T.J.'s is based on closed establishment, but T.J.'s in the movie was a set. For everyone listening to Dire Straits "Tunnel of Love" right now, my apologies.

If you still want to get close to An Officer and a Gentleman, you can always visit the Tides Inn. There's a plaque on the door of the room where Richard Gere and Debra Winger made sweet love. Who knows, maybe it's even the same bed.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow