A Few Good Men is a play by Aaron Sorkin, first produced on Broadway by David Brown in 1989. It tells the story of military lawyers at a court-martial who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.
It opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in New York on November 15, 1989, in a production directed by Don Scardino, with Tom Hulce as LTJG Kaffee, Megan Gallagher as LCDR JoAnne Galloway and Stephen Lang as Col Jessep.
Sorkin adapted his work into a screenplay for a 1992 film directed by Rob Reiner, produced by Brown and starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay.
The play’s signature catchphrase is “You can’t handle the truth.”
Sorkin got the inspiration for the play from a phone conversation with his sister Deborah, who had graduated from Boston University Law School and signed up for a three-year stint with the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She was going to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to defend a group of Marines who came close to killing a fellow Marine in a hazing ordered by a superior officer. Sorkin took that information and wrote much of his story on cocktail napkins while bartending at the Palace Theatre on Broadway.
Several former Navy JAG lawyers have been identified as the source for the character of Lt. Daniel Kaffee. These include Donald Marcari, David Iglesias, and Walter Bansley III. The court martial was Macari’s first big court case.
However in a September 15, 2011 article of The New York Times, Sorkin was quoted saying, “The character of Dan Kaffee in ‘A Few Good Men’ is entirely fictional and was not inspired by any particular individual.”
Once Sorkin completed a draft, his theatrical agent sent it to producer David Brown who wanted the film rights. Sorkin sold Brown the rights, getting Brown to agree to also produce A Few Good Men as a play.
A Few Good Men had its world premiere at the Heritage Repertory Theatre at the University of Virginia’s Department of Drama on September 19, 1989. It then transferred to the Kennedy Center.
The original Broadway stage production opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York on November 15, 1989, in a production directed by Don Scardino, designed by Ben Edwards, and with music by John Gromada. It starred Tom Hulce as LTJG Kaffee; Megan Gallagher as LCDR JoAnne Galloway; Clark Gregg as Lt. Jack Ross; Stephen Lang as Col Jessep, and Robert Hogan as Capt. Matthew A. Markinson. Replacement actors included Timothy Busfield and Bradley Whitford as Kaffee, Perry King, Michael O’Hare, and Ron Perlman as Jessep, and Pamela Blair as Galloway. Joshua Malina also appeared. It ran for 497 performances.