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The Great Santini (1979)

 -  Drama  -  26 October 1979 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,913 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 20 critic

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), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Great Santini (1979)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Lt. Col. 'Bull' Meechum
...
Lillian Meechum
...
...
Mary Anne Meechum
Julie Anne Haddock ...
Karen Meechum
...
Matthew Meechum
...
Toomer Smalls
...
Arrabella Smalls
...
Red Petus
Paul Mantee ...
Col. Virgil Hedgepath
...
Col. Varney
Bennett Liss ...
Cpl. Atcherly
Joe Dorsey ...
Coach Spinks
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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Language:

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Santini  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On the morning of the Academy Award nominations in 1981, when the movie got nods for actor and supporting actor, author Pat Conroy received a phone call from him father who told him "You and me got nominated for Academy Awards, your mother didn't get squat". See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Mary Anne Meechum: Hey Dad, why do you love me more than your other children?
Bull Meechum: Beat it, I'm reading the sports page.
Mary Anne Meechum: Let's have a conversation Dad. Let's bare our souls and get to know one another.
Bull Meechum: I don't want you to get to know me. I like being an enigma, like a Chink. Now scram.
Mary Anne Meechum: Am I a Meechum Dad? Can girls be real Meechums; girls without jump shots? Or am a simple form of Meechum, like in biology. Mary Anne, the one-celled Meechum.
Bull Meechum: Mary Anne scram, I'm starting to lose my temper; Lilian!
Mary Anne Meechum: [falls to the ground] ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Story about a Marine pilot involving his frustrated career and family ; being based on an autobiographical novel
6 December 2013 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Lt. Col. 'Bull' Meechum (Robert Duvall) is a wildcat Marine Pilot stationed stateside ; at the beginning , he along with his family are living in Spain , then , they return to USA . The family is formed by father , mother (Blythe Danner) and children (Michael O'Keefe as Ben , Lisa Jane Persky as Mary Anne , Julie Anne Haddock as Karen and Brian Andrews as Matthew Meechum) . They are a dysfunctional family , rigidly governed by the father , as he abuses and deals them in military style , because he doesn't allow himself any other way yo show his affection .

The motion picture mingles tenderness , warm humor , racism with harsh cruelties inherent with unsettling as well unpleasant main character , including his repressed emotions , frustrated career and family mistreat . 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 ; in fact Pat and Donald Conroy were on the set on the day . Producers gratefully acknowledge the technical assistance of the US Marine Corps , in the production of this picture . The movie was virtually undistributed and originally released directly to cable and airlines, under the title "The Ace" , when the NY Times reviewed it very favorably, it was pulled from cable, and released due to critical acclaim to theaters under the title "The Great Santini" . Very good acting by Robert Duvall as an aggressively competitive, but frustrated marine pilot strictly related to his family with whom he shares a strident and sometimes fun love-hatred relationship . Skillful acting especially from the youngsters with special mention to Miles O'Keefe . And standout performance by Blythe Danner ; despite playing the mummy , Blythe Danner is only 12 years older than children Michael O'Keefe and Lisa Jane Persky . Secondary cast is pretty good such as Stan Shaw , Paul Gleeson , Paul Mantee , Michael Strong and David Keith film debut .

Atmospheric cinematography by Ralph Woolsey , filmed on location in South Carolina and in Samuel Goldwyn studios , Hollywood Calif. Cameraman used lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision , prints by Technicolor . In 1981, the movie got nods for nominated for Academy Awards to actor and supporting actor. Rousing musical score by the master Elmer Bernstein in his particular as well as martial style . The motion picture was professionally written and directed by Lewis Jon Carlino who extracted good performances and well-developed events .He is a writer and director, known for The mechanic , Mafia , Seconds ; having only directed three films : Class , The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea and this Great Santini .


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