For a moviemaker interested in apparent authenticity and genuine economy, there's nothing like cooperation from the U.S. armed services. The Pentagon has historically provided background locations, military hardware and even masses of uniformed extras to Hollywood producers when asked.

But there's a price to be paid for this cooperation, and Francis Ford Coppola paid through the nose for the Army's help in making "Gardens of Stone." Released earlier this year to mixed reviews, the movie is set during the Vietnam era, but focuses sympathetically on Army men and their families back home.

The specific unit is the Army's "Old Guard," the spit-and-polish outfit at Fort Myer, which does ceremonial escort duty for the president, stands guard at the Tomb of the Unknown and performs funeral processions at Arlington National Cemetery.

In the "production notes" -- background material and authorized gossip sent to the media -- Tri-Star Pictures brags about the level of cooperation it got from the Pentagon for its pro-Army production.

"The Army provided uniforms, equipment, military training for the actors, technical advice, 450 precision soldiers for the battalion review scene, a performance by the U.S. Army Band and hundreds of extras," the notes disclose. They quote producer Michael Levy as saying: "This picture could not have been made without the Army. Period."

How did Coppola win over the Army, which had not been at all pleased with his earlier "Apocalypse Now"? Internal Army memoranda we've obtained suggest he took orders from the brass like a lowly recruit.

"There is excessive profanity in this script, which is both gratuitous and unrealistic," an Army critic observed in one memo. "The amount of profanity must be reduced." It was.

"We cannot allow the assault on the Tomb Guard Quarters to be filmed at Arlington National Cemetery," the Army reviewer wrote. "We suggest the site of the 'assault' be moved to the ammunition dump at Fort Myer or that the production company's set designers duplicate the Tomb Guard Quarters at another location." Building movie sets is expensive, so the producers settled for nearby Fort Belvoir.

There were more than 40 other complaints by the Army's critics. They included key characters who were "too old," a company commander who "is given too much authority," a recruit who is too "sloppy, disorganized and inept {to be} a member of the Old Guard" and an Army spouse who "perpetuates the 'alcoholic-wife-of-the-colonel' myth."

At a negotiating session five days after the memo, the moviemakers agreed to rewrite "the funeral and interment scenes with drunken widow," and were asked to make 31 other concessions to the Army censors. Three weeks later, the Army approved the revised script and agreed to cooperate in every way. Three months later, Coppola was made an honorary member of the Old Guard.