Continuity mistake: In the opening scene, Gunnery Sgt. Hartman is making his speech and passes by Privates Cowboy and Joker on his way to the other side of the barracks. On his way he passes Private Pyle standing to the right of Private Joker. Later in the scene, when he rushes over to confront Private Joker and then moves on to Private Cowboy and then Private Pyle, Private Pyle is on the left of Private Joker.
Continuity mistake: In the fire fight in the city near the end of the film, one of the men is firing a M-16 around a corner. As the camera angle changes he is seen firing left handed and right handed. Back and forth several times. Also in the same sequence the magazine in his gun keeps vanishing. One shot he has it and in the next there is no magazine in the gun and yet he hasn't moved.
Continuity mistake: During the drill scene when Sgt. Hartman is asking Private Pyle if he knows the difference between his left and his right, watch the positioning of Pvt Pyle's cap. After being struck the first time, the cap is slightly cocked. After the shot returns to Pyle and before he gets struck for the second time, the cap is obviously cocked further over.
Continuity mistake: When D.I. Hartman dumps the contents of Private Pyle's footlocker on the floor, in the next few shots the layout of the clutter on the floor changes. Note that after Hartman confronts Pyle with the jelly doughnut and turns away, there is a clear path through the clutter for Hartman that disappears in subsequent shots.
Visible crew/equipment: When Cowboy, Joker, Rafterman and the other Marines are running across the buildings to get to Animal in the final sniper scene, watch the foreground. If you freeze the movie right as they reach Animal, you can see they run by a boom mic and a crew member. A bicycle is also there (just to help you out).
Revealing mistake: When the GI's are jogging through the training camp complex, singing "I don't know but I've been told..." you can see the British road junction markings on the tarmac underneath them. There is little evidence to suggest that there was any attempt to disguise or remove them.
Continuity mistake: In the bathroom scene on the last night of boot camp, Pvt. Pyle is 'training' with a rifle. As he snaps to attention, the shot from behind shows him with legs slightly apart, a second later the shot from the front shows him with his legs perfectly together, yet he never moves.
Continuity mistake: During the graduation parade, if you look at the background you can see many large squad bay buildings with a few single trees in front of them, this scene seems to be shot at the actual Paris island. However when they show a close up of Joker's platoon in parade, the background changes to mostly trees, with only two or three small buildings behind them.
Continuity mistake: When Gomer Pyle is in the toilet with his rifle and after shooting the drill instructor, Pyle sits down on the fourth toilet seat from the back of the room. In the next shot where Pyle kills himself, he is sitting on the third toilet seat. You can see this already from the front shot of Pyle when he kills himself because there is a rise in the wall next to the third seat, which is visible through the whole scene. It is more obvious in the following shot where you can see the row of toilet seats and Pyle sitting dead on the third one.
00:43:00 - 00:43:35
Factual error: When 8-ball gets shot, in the shot which shows the platoon ducking near a wall with Cowboy, Joker and Animal Mother in the front, there are two weapon related errors. Cowboy's M-16 has a nickel (silver colored) firing assembly and Joker's M-16 has an A2 type pistol grip. The A2 types were introduced somewhere around the 80s, and nickel plated assemblies are rarely used (and were invented after Vietnam, too). The nickel assembly is visible at the beginning of the shot, and you can see the A2 grip when Joker is changing magazines (while Cowboy shouts cease fire).
Continuity mistake: When the tanks are moving into the city with the Marines i.e. after meeting Private Cowboy, Animal Mother and the rest, they run into a firefight. When they stop shooting and are reloading watch the leader's ammo clip. It's missing in one shot of him, in the next he's ejecting the magazine and putting in a fresh one before shooting the two Vietnamese with it.
Factual error: In 1968 the USMC were still using the Sikorsky UH34/S58 helicopter (powered by a piston engine) but the helicopter seen in the film is the British version of the same aircraft, the Westland Wessex - gas turbine powered, it has a quite different nose shape from the original American version.
Continuity mistake: When Joker and Rafterman are in transit on the chopper, we see the gunner firing out the cargo door. We can see out the cargo door that the ground is pretty far away, the chopper is obviously pretty high up in the air, so high that if there were people down on the ground it would be rather hard to see them. However the camera switches to the gunner's point of view shooting at people, and the chopper only seems to be about 20 feet off the ground.
Factual error: In the sniper scene where Animal Mother disobeys Cowboy to go help 8-Ball and Doc, and Animal Mother peeks around the corner of a building to try and see the sniper and the sniper shoots at him, narrowly missing his face, the impact of the sniper's bullet on the wall and the sound of the gunshot occur a split second before the muzzle-flash in the distant window from where the sniper is shooting from. This would imply that both bullet and sound have travelled faster than light.
Continuity mistake: In the part of the death of Cowboy, before he looks through the corner of the building to see the position of the sniper, there is a wall in good condition behind another wall which is broken. Later, when he goes back and starts to give orders, the wall that was in good condition is now broken without any reason for it to be and now the sniper can see Cowboy so she can shoot him.
Revealing mistake: In the early latrine scene when Privates Cowboy and Joker are mopping the floor, the mops they are using are dry. As they dip each mop into the bucket, there is no water dripping. When they move the bucket, the sound indicates it is empty, as anyone who has ever used a mop & metal bucket could validate.
Factual error: Joker would not have been allowed to go through basic training and out into the field with wire-rimmed glasses. He would have been issued plastic/cellulose-framed Regulation Prescription Glasses (AKA BCGs or "Birth Control Glasses") like Private Cowboy's.
Add timeCaptain Defenestrator
Factual error: When Pvt. Pyle commits suicide, he shoots himself through the skull at point-blank range with the tile wall of the bathroom only inches from the back of his head. The wall becomes splattered with blood and brain tissue but no hole in the wall is visible. Both the shot through Hartmann and the one through Pyle would have punched through the bathroom walls and quite possibly caused injury or death to anyone on the other side.
Factual error: At one point Joker is doing chin ups, with Hartman motivating him. Joker does three chin-ups, but not a single one of them was done properly. You're supposed to lock your elbows all the way out on the way down, and your chin needs to clear the plane of the bar. Joker never locks his arms out, barely gets over the bar. In reality Hartman would have been all over him about this, drill instructors are notoriously strict about proper technique.
Revealing mistake: When Joker and Raptor are in the helo heading for the front, there is a view of Vietnamese being fired at by the door gunner with an M-60 machine gun. Several seconds pass in the scene while bullets should be tearing into the ground around them, but there are no indications of bullet strikes, even as the line of fire passes over a small creek.
Continuity mistake: During the scene where the Joker moves into the building to kill the sniper, the sniper sees him and starts shooting at the pillar he is behind. During this shot, large chunks of the pillar fall away, but in the next shot, when the sniper gets shot, the pillar is intact.
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