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The Last Detail (1973) Poster

Trivia

The script was completed in 1970, but contained too much profanity to be shot as written. Columbia Pictures waited for two years trying to get writer Robert Towne to tone down the language. Instead, by 1972, the standards for foul language relaxed so much that all the profanity was left in.
Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973) (ultimately played by Robert Redford), to appear in this film, which was written by his good friend Robert Towne. Nicholson thought that The Sting was too commercial. Both he and Redford were nominated as Best Actor of 1973 at the Academy Awards, losing out to 'Jack Lemmon' in Save the Tiger (1973).
John Travolta was strongly in the running to play Meadows, only losing to Randy Quaid at the last minute.
When the film failed at the box office, the studio re-released it, marketing it as a hilarious comedy with the tagline "What's 'The Last Detail'? 300 beers and a barrel of laughs!"
The word "fuck" and all permutations of it are said 65 times. This was a record up to that time.
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.
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A tamer version with less profanity was filmed at the same time for TV showings. Because of the amount of swearing, the entire movie was pretty much shot twice.
Cinematographer Michael Chapman plays a "taxi driver" in this film, his first as a full-fledged Director of Photography. Ironically, Chapman would later become the cinematographer for the movie Taxi Driver (1976).
Nancy Allen was originally offered the part of the "Young Whore". But she turned it down because she felt she would be too nervous to speak while being nude on-camera.
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Feature film debut of Gilda Radner.
Columbia wanted cast Burt Reynolds, Jim Brown and David Cassidy as Buddusky, Mulhall, and Meadows.
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The phrase said in the The Last Detail (1973) "let's shag ass" was later used in the film The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
In the same year as the films release,(1974) the actual Naval Prison in Portsmouth (which the young sailor Meadows is being taken to) was permanently closed by by the Department of Defense.
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Film debut of Nancy Allen.
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Jack Nicholson as SM1 Buddusky says "Marines are really assholes, you know that? It takes a certain kind of sadistic temperament to be a Marine." In the 1992 film A Few Good Men, Nicholson portrays Col. Nathan R. Jessup, USMC.
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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.
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Screenwriter Robert Towne stated that the main reason the film had so much profanity was his view that "this is how people talk when they're powerless--they bitch", since Buddufsky and Mulvall don't agree with Meadows' jail sentence but have no legal ways to help him (and aren't going to let him escape and bring wrath upon themselves). Towne also tied the film into the then-ongoing Vietnam War, saying that "everyone hides behind a title in the military, whether you're killing at My Lai, or taking a kid to jail."
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The US Navy would not allow director Hal Ashby to film on their bases in Norfolk so on-base scenes were filmed in Canada. Twice in the movie, the base in Norfolk is referred to as "Shit City." The scene where the sailors are leaving Norfolk was shot at the Greyhound bus station at the corner of Granby St. and Brambleton Ave. in downtown Norfolk. The gray Navy vehicle turns left off Granby and drops the sailors off at the rear entrance to the station. The bus station and the storefronts along Granby look remarkably the same over 40 years later.
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Towards the end of the movie when the 3 sailors are in the snowy New Hampshire park cooking hotdogs over the fire, the music being played is The Bells, Suite #6 by William Byrd
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