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The Last Detail (1973)

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Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison but decide to show him one last good time along the way.



(screenplay), (novel)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Otis Young ...
Young Whore
Marine O.D.
Kathleen Miller ...
Gerry Salsberg ...
Don McGovern ...
Pat Hamilton ...
Michael Chapman ...
Taxi Driver
Jim Henshaw ...
Nichiren Shoshu Member


Two bawdy, tough looking navy lifers - "Bad-Ass" Buddusky, and "Mule" Mulhall - are commissioned to escort a young pilferer named Meadows to the brig in Portsmouth. Meadows is not much of a thief. Indeed, in his late teens, he is not much of a man at all. His great crime was to try to steal forty dollars from the admiral's wife's pet charity. For this, he's been sentenced to eight years behind bars. At first, Buddusky and Mulhall view the journey as a paid vacation, but their holiday spirits are quickly depressed by the prisoner, who looks prepared to break into tears at any moment. And he has the lowest self-image imaginable. Buddusky gets it into his head to give Meadows a good time and teach him a bit about getting on in the world. Lesson one: Don't take every card life deals you. Next, he teaches Meadows to drink, and, as a coup de grace, finds a nice young whore to instruct him in lovemaking. Mule, who worries aloud about his own position with military authority, seems pleased ... Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


No *#@!!* Navy's going to give some poor **!!@* kid eight years in the #@!* brig without me taking him out for the time of his *#@!!* life. See more »


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 February 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das letzte Kommando  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


After being cast to play Buddusky, Jack Nicholson wished for his old friend Rupert Crosse to be cast as Mulhall, but Crosse was terminally ill and could no longer work. See more »


In Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, prayer beads include two strands which hang on the left hand and three strands on the right while chanting with palms pressed together. When Donna is seen in profile chanting for Meadows, her prayer beads appear opposite from the correct arrangement with three strands on the left hand. See more »


Meadows: [looking at porn] Are they really doing that when they take that picture?
Buddusky: [pause] Well kid, there's more things in this life than you can possibly imagine. I knew a whore once in Wilmington. She had a glass eye... used to take it out and wink people off for a dollar.
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Spoofed in Road Trip (2000) See more »


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User Reviews

They don't seem to make movies like this anymore, do they?
22 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While the question is a bit rhetorical, I do mean it- you don't see that many movies made anymore like this, The Last Detail by Hal Ashby (Being There) and Robert Towne (later to write another Nicholson gem, Chinatown), where the story is just a baseline to the characters studied in subtle and not so subtle ways. It even grows on the viewer if seen multiple times, where what seems to be dragging on is loaded with nuance. There's a level of existentialism to it: how free are Buddusky and Mulhall, or their choices? Probably not much at all, at least not any more or less than the doomed Meadows. But this is not the only method of Ashby on the material, there are also superlative performances from Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and a newcomer at the time, Randy Quaid.

Nicholson and Young play Buddusky (Bad-ass), and Mulhouse (Mule), who are assigned "chicken-s*** detail", to transport petty thief Quaid, sent up for eight years in a naval brig. On the way up the Eastern seaboard, the three stop in Washington, New York, and Boston, and the two try to show the youngster a good time before imprisonment. Probably one of the most under-looked pictures of the 1970's, though one of the more note-worthy, especially for it's attitude delivered ten-fold by Nicholson's Cannes winning Buddusky, and Towne script. A scene in a bar in Washington and a scene at a Nichiren Shosu meeting steal the lot, though there's plenty to look for. It's one of my favorite tragic-comic sleepers, and one of Ashby's best.

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