Last Detail

Last Detail

5.0 1
Director: Hal Ashby

Cast: Hal Ashby, Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid

     
 

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Two Navy "lifers" and one military innocent briefly attempt to thumb their nose at Authority in Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (1973). "Badass" Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and "Mule" Mulhall (Otis Young) are assigned to escort young sailor Meadows (Randy Quaid, who beat out John Travolta for the part) from their Virginia base to a New England military prison, whereSee more details below

Overview

Two Navy "lifers" and one military innocent briefly attempt to thumb their nose at Authority in Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (1973). "Badass" Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and "Mule" Mulhall (Otis Young) are assigned to escort young sailor Meadows (Randy Quaid, who beat out John Travolta for the part) from their Virginia base to a New England military prison, where Meadows will serve an eight-year sentence for attempting to swipe the commander's wife's polio donation can. Buddusky thinks that the sentence is a waste of Meadows' formative years, and he convinces a skeptical Mulhall to show the hapless Meadows a good time by partying on their per diem for the rest of the detail's allotted week. As they head north, the comically posturing Buddusky leads Meadows through the masculinizing rituals of getting drunk, getting in a fight, and getting laid; and he teaches Meadows to stand up for himself so well that Meadows tries to escape. Despite his self-proclaimed "badass" rep, however, Buddusky is, as Mulhall tells him, "a lifer like me," and the two ultimately have a job that they were ordered to do. Taking full advantage of the new ratings system, writer Robert Towne adapted the Darryl Ponicsan novel with an ear for how Navy men really talk. Objecting to the wall-to-wall obscenities, Columbia put off releasing the movie, but, after Nicholson won the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival, finally opened it for Oscar consideration in December 1973 before a full release several months later. Even with nominations for Nicholson, Quaid, and Towne, and rave reviews despite the notorious cussing, The Last Detail failed to find an audience.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The Last Detail fits very nicely into its early 1970s milieu: distinctly anti-authoritarian, the film is chock full of cursing, sexual language, rowdiness, and downright rudeness. Of course, Jack Nicholson's devilish grin was the perfect vehicle to carry this sort of pointedly subversive material, because he was so likable doing it. From Easy Rider to Five Easy Pieces to The Last Detail to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nicholson made the role of the (often hilarious) nonconformist his own. Reclusive director/editor Hal Ashby was also a perfect fit for the film and the time period. Fresh from the offbeat critical success of the serio-comic Harold and Maude, Ashby brought an "experimental" feel to the film, most obviously in the jump cut editing borrowed from the French New Wave. Screenwriter Robert Towne was nominated for an Academy Award (his second of three in a row, following Chinatown and preceding Shampoo). Towne's f-word-strewn dialogue had Columbia shaking in their boots, and they refused to release the picture. It was only after Nicholson won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival that they gave it a run. But they never supported it much, and it died an unnecessary death at the box office. It has since come to be regarded as one of Nicholson's best, if not best-known, performances.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/24/1994
UPC:
0043396600348
Original Release:
1973
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jack Nicholson Buddusky SM I
Otis Young Mulhall GMI
Randy Quaid Meadows SN
Clifton James Chief Master-At-Arms
Michael Moriarty Marine Duty Officer
Carol Kane Prostitute
Gilda Radner Nichren Shoshu Member,Religious zealot
James Horn Actor
Kathleen Miller Kathleen
Nancy Allen Nancy
Jim Henshaw Sweek
Gerry Salsberg Henry
Don McGovern Bartender
Pat Hamilton Madame
Michael Chapman Taxi Driver
Derek McGrath Nichiren Soshu Member
John Castellano Nichiren Shoshu Member
Luana Anders Donna

Technical Credits
Hal Ashby Director
Gerald Ayres Producer
Michael Chapman Cinematographer
Michael Haller Production Designer
Robert Jones Editor
Johnny Mandel Score Composer
Wes McAfee Asst. Director
Charles B. Mulvehill Producer
Tom Overton Sound/Sound Designer
Ted Parvin Costumes/Costume Designer
Richard Portman Sound/Sound Designer
Maureen Sweeney Makeup
Robert Towne Screenwriter

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