7.2/10
4,559
40 user 20 critic

The Great Santini (1979)

PG | | Drama | 26 October 1979 (USA)
As he approaches manhood, Ben Meechum struggles to win the approval of his demanding alpha male father, an aggressively competitive, but frustrated marine pilot.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (written for the screen by)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Apostle (1997)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

Director: Robert Duvall
Stars: Robert Duvall, Todd Allen, Paul Bagget
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A broken-down, middle-aged country singer gets a new wife, reaches out to his long-lost daughter, and tries to put his troubled life back together.

Director: Bruce Beresford
Stars: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Betty Buckley
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Will arrives for his last year at The Carolina Military Institute, in the Deep South USA, in the 1960s. A black student, Pearce, has been accepted, for the first time and Will is asked to ... See full summary »

Director: Franc Roddam
Stars: David Keith, Robert Prosky, G.D. Spradlin
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of an union head, the man's life begins to unravel.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. Col. 'Bull' Meechum
...
Lillian Meechum
...
...
Mary Anne Meechum
Julie Anne Haddock ...
Karen Meechum
Brian Andrews ...
Matthew Meechum
...
Toomer Smalls
...
Arrabella Smalls
...
Red Petus
...
Col. Virgil Hedgepath
...
Col. Varney
Bennett Liss ...
Cpl. Atcherly
Joe Dorsey ...
Coach Spinks
David Frankham ...
Capt. Weber
Jan Stratton ...
Mrs. Weber
Edit

Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The bravest thing he would ever do was let his family love him.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Santini  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the opening dogfight sequence you hear the lead pilot call "Okay, it's Marines verses Navy"; and you see a F-4J Phantom with the word Navy on the side. However, the squadron designation is VMFA-251. At the time, only Marine Phantoms carried the "VMFA" designation, Navy Phantoms were "VF" . The "Marine" squadron was in fact VMFA-251 Thunderbolts, who now fly the F/A-18C. See more »

Quotes

Bull Meechum: [to his subordinates] You're gonna hack it or pack it!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: The Penelope Papers (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Twist and Shout
(uncredited)
Written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
a wonderful movie with wonderful performances
21 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Imagine a man who considers winning to be absolutely everything. He is like the coach of a sports team, yet he encompasses a far greater reach of authority. And yet, he wants even more authority and always seems to be getting it, because of his natural air of authority and others' natural air of backing down in the fright of his presence. He is a coach, a military man, a patriot, abusive, and to make things even more shocking: a father who just doesn't really know how to be one except his own way. And you have a picture of the type of character that Academy Award-winning actor Robert Duvall plays in this film. He got another nomination for the Academy Award in this film, although he unfortunately did not win it.

"The Great Santini" is a dramatic film near to perfection and one of the finest great movies of the 70s. Majority of the screen time is devoted to the relationship between Robert Duvall and his screen son, portrayed by Michael O'Keefe, also in an Oscar-nominated performance. The whole point of this is that O'Keefe is the oldest out of four children who have spent their whole life being raised, bullied, and commanded by Duvall. He runs their lives like a boot camp. There is no mercy, no generosity, and all you get for a good job, is a slap on the back. Duvall is trying to raise them in the best way he knows. He wants them to succeed in life, but the only method he knows that is effective is to be rough. And O'Keefe's character has decided he's had enough of being treated like a soldier in war.

Every aspect in "The Great Santini" is developed and executed perfectly to a magnificent entertaining level. The varsity basketball game depicted in the film is just like watching a real high school ball game. It's not full of tough, imaginative lines. Nothing remarkable happens during it, and yet it is a powerful sequence and highly entertaining, almost as if you were sitting with the cheering and jeering friends and family members of the characters. There are also powerful messages about racism and violence in the film, performed through a friendship between the characters portrayed by Michael O'Keefe, Stan Shaw, and David Keith. It is an excellent subplot that is the next-to-most-important aspect of the story and it involves pretty much all of the characters in some way, shape, or form. It's not just an in-the-background tragedy.

"The Great Santini" plays out as a magnificent story, mostly revolving around the character played by Robert Duvall. As we see him, he goes on an off with his temper and general-like behavior, and we come to like and dislike him over the course of the film, respecting him as if he were a real person before us. While he's really nothing more than a fictional character being portrayed by a magnificent and talented actor, he is in his own way, one of the greatest heroes of film history. And he just wants everybody to see things his way.

Recommended.


8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why was the movie called the great Santini JAlexa9898
Toomer - Saddest Story Ever? michigan803-1
This is the Truth about Military Life! wildrose-1
sister: prom date cstan06
who/what is the great santini? vpoholek
Buenos dias, Russpickers! ctex
Discuss The Great Santini (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?