4 items from 2016
Hal Ashby remains one of the most curious auteurs to rise out of the prosperous 1970s American studio era, his titles maintaining an indelible mark on the glorious period of filmmaking, ranging from 1971’s Harold & Maude to 1979’s Being There. The 1980s weren’t quite as kind, and Ashby, like a passel of other mavericks of the decade (Altman comes immediately to mind), stumbled into the age of excess, and in this particular case, eventually oblivion. On the surface, most of Ashby’s films promise to be comedies, quirky or otherwise, but he eventually reveals those expectations to be a superficial veneer, his characters mostly downtrodden sorts who are either bitterly disillusioned or resigned to their own dysthymic worldview. One of his greatest achievements was his third effort, 1973’s The Last Detail, pairing Ashby with another icon of the era, Jack Nicholson, himself in the midst of his own golden »
- Nicholas Bell
Biopics are best when focused on segmented portions of emotional turmoil, professional escalation or some perfect combination of the two, rather than trying to collapse entire lives into just a couple hours time. Hal Ashby’s 1976 retelling of Woody Guthrie’s popular ascent from dust bowl deadbeat to socially conscious folk music figurehead in Bound For Glory coolly pursues the latter with genuinely endearing, authentic feeling results. With David Carradine aptly filling the role of the humbly charismatic, musically driven drifter and a fully stocked catalog of Guthrie songs adapted for the screen by Leonard Rosenman, Ashby’s oddly conventional mid-period picture was in competition for the Palme d’Or, but ultimately lost to Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Padre Padrone.
- Jordan M. Smith
What's extraordinary about The Last Detail is how ordinary it is. Three sailors on a road trip. In an era replete with road trips. And a time when military characters in movies were most often objects of ridicule or pity. Yet the sailors in The Last Detail are, instead, embodied as sympathetic human beings, caught up in a system that demands their obedience. As portrayed by Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and Randy Quaid, they are pawns in a game of chess that they do not fully understand. Buddusky (Nicholson) and Mulhall (Young), known respectively as Badass and Mule, are Navy "lifers," volunteers who keep re-enlisting in the service. At one point, Mule mentions he's been in the Navy for 14 years. Given that the movie...
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Jack Nicholson found his personal favorite role in this fine road picture: Navy signalman Buddusky, charged with escorting sad-sack prisoner Randy Quaid to prison. Hal Ashby's direction and Robert Towne's script pitches the story at the human scale favored by '70s director-driven filmmaking. The Last Detail Blu-ray Twilight Time Limited Edition 1973 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 104 min. / Ship Date January 19, 2016 / available through Twilight Time Movies / 29.95 Starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid, Clifton James, Carol Kane, Michael Moriarty, Luana Anders, Kathleen Miller, Nancy Allen, Gerry Salsberg, Don McGovern, Pat Hamilton, Michael Chapman, Jim Henshaw, Derek McGrath, Gilda Radner, Jim Horn, John Castellano. Cinematography Michael Chapman Film Editor Robert C. Jones Original Music Johnny Mandel Written by Robert Towne from the novel by Darryl Ponicsan Produced by Gerald Ayres Directed by Hal Ashby
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
Bring up the 'golden age' of director-driven movies in the 1970s and the »
- Glenn Erickson
4 items from 2016
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