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
When the three go into the whorehouse and Meadows is choosing a girl to make love to, the TV is playing the show What's My Line? (1950). It can be heard plainly in the background. 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 »
When you're in the Navy, shitbird, and you're in transit, nobody knows where the fuck ya are. Now go tell that MAA to fuck himself; I ain't goin' on no shit detail!
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Nicholson's "Bad Ass" is a beautifully crafted piece of character. He cusses. He fights. He drinks. He's loud. No one else speaks Robert Towne's words better than Nicholson. In this film he overwhelms at every turn. In the bar scene, he shows brute anger and a desire for dominance. The scenes with a young Nancy Allen are delightfully witty because of Nicholson's schoolboy antics of getting a woman into bed.
It is the scenes with Randy Quaid (also wonderful) where Nicholson shines brightest. "Bad Ass" represents a paternal figure lacking in Meadows' life. He makes him a man by demanding he send back a hamburger if it's not cooked the way he likes it. He demands Meadows to stop crying and be a man. He demands Meadows to stand up for himself and fight when someone pushes his buttons. He demands Meadows to want to have sex, like other men his age. Nicholson's father figure image here is played off perfectly as Meadows sort of imitates things "Bad Ass" does. If Bad Ass has a beer, Meadows has a beer. If Bad Ass wants a woman, Meadows wants a woman. There's a secret trust between the two. It's unspoken, but it's there. That trust is broken in the end when Meadows tries to escape. It wasn't all a lie, Meadows just felt that it was time to stop learning and start moving.
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