In 1962, the Marine Corps family, the Meechums - parents Lieutenant Colonel Wilbur "Bull" Meechum and Lillian Meechum, and their four children Ben Meechum, Mary Anne Meechum, Karen Meechum and Matthew Meechum - are moving like they do most years, this time to Beaufort, South Carolina. Bull - nicknamed "the Great Santini" - is known as a great pilot, but has gotten into much trouble in the past for his sophomoric behavior. He runs his family much as a military commander, where they are all to obey his orders without question. Everything he does within the family context he reasons is to build character, but in reality everything ends up being about him. The oldest Ben, approaching manhood, is the one of his offspring who has the greatest issue with his father. Ben wants his respect, but isn't sure if he really loves him. As Ben goes through his senior year in high school, his attempts to play varsity basketball and an incident between black Toomer Smalls - his friend and their cook ... Written by
The bravest thing he would ever do was let his family love him.
Did You Know?
According to author Pat Conroy
, Lt. Col. Bull Meecham is based entirely on his own father, Donald Conroy, a Marine fighter pilot who referred to himself in the third person as "The Great Santini." Donald Conroy took the nickname from a magician he'd seen as a child. Pat and Donald Conroy were on the set on the day that Robert Duvall
and Michael O'Keefe
filmed the scene where Bull Meecham bullies and taunts Ben after losing to him in a basketball game. A woman on the set asked Donald Conroy if he and Pat had really played games like that. Donald Conroy replied, "Every day, madam. Every single day." However, the book and movie gave Donald Conroy an opportunity to mend fences with his children, especially Pat. After the novel was published, Donald Conroy would often accompany his son to book signings, and would sign his son's novels with the signature, "Donald Conroy - The Great Santini." See more
Bull Meechum meets his old buddy, Virgil Hedgepath, and they wrestle each other in Hedgepath's office. In the background, you can see a couch. As Hedgepath gets Meechum in an arm lock, on the floor, you can see that the floor has been raised: in the background, the couch is noticeably higher, and you can see the side of the platform that the actors are on, directly below Robert Duvall's face. Filmed in a 4:3 ratio, the raised floor was cropped out for the 1:85 theatrical release. See more
[to his subordinates
You're gonna hack it or pack it!