7.2/10
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42 user 23 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.

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(novel), (written for the screen by)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Julie Anne Haddock ...
Brian Andrews ...
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Arrabella Smalls
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Red Petus
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Col. Virgil Hedgepath
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Bennett Liss ...
Joe Dorsey ...
David Frankham ...
Capt. Weber
Jan Stratton ...
Mrs. Weber
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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:

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Details

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Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Ace  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite playing their mother, Blythe Danner is only twelve years older than Michael O'Keefe and Lisa Jane Persky. Danner appeared as Tom Wingo's wife in The Prince of Tides (1991), which was also based on a novel by Pat Conroy. See more »

Goofs

When the Santini family is in their station wagon, in the process of moving, Santini wakes his son up. The pillow that Lillian was using is missing in the shot of the awakened boy and Santini. See more »

Quotes

[Walking down the hall at school]
Mary Anne Meechum: They're staring at us like we're freaks or something.
Ben Meechum: No they're no. Look, just pick someone out. Go on up to them and say, "Hi my name's Mary Anne Meechum. I'm new in town, like you for a friend." Just like that.
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Connections

Referenced in The Tick: The License (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Fascination
(uncredited)
Music by F.D. Marchetti
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User Reviews

 
Great story on the irony of being a Marine
16 December 2002 | by (Hollywood, ca) – See all my reviews

I have not seen this film in over 20 years, but having been in the Marines, it will always be burned in my memory. You may also have to be, or have been, a Marine to fully appreciate the film (although anyone that has lived under authoritarian rule must feel some sympathy for the situations presented).

Although the film may have been re-cut for video release, I remember Duvall's character as being a fully fleshed out dichotomy of a man who rebelled against authority when submission was called for (his practical jokes while performing military duties) and invoking authoritarianism when more compassion and understanding were called for (his family life).

This is what it was like to be a Marine: The Corps was your family and your family was just an inconvenient duty to be performed for society.

If the movie has been re-edited, I suggest you try to see the original theatrical release, if possible. I found it to be a thoughtful and powerful motion picture.


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