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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:
...
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
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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 Ace  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the basketball game, Pat Conroy's mother Peg, the woman with the short blonde hair, is seated directly behind Blythe Danner. Pat's brother, Tom, who tragically committed suicide at the age of 33, is #32 on the team, the player wearing glasses. 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

Lt. Sammy: [Paying tribute to Bull Meechum] To the greatest marine fighter pilot that ever crapped between two shoes!
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Connections

Referenced in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Twist and Shout
(uncredited)
Written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns
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User Reviews

 
Duvall's Finest Performance, and an Awesome Character Study
16 April 2001 | by (Oldwick, NJ) – See all my reviews

"The Great Santini" is a powerful, gut-wrenching film that manages to tell the tale of a powerful, abusive, often unlikeable hero named Bull Meecham (Duvall). . . and yet you care about what happens to Bull Meecham just the same. Meecham, a legendary pilot and naval hero, is at his best when faced with death -- but at his worst when faced with peacetime, and with his wife and children. Meecham is actually both sad and scary when left alone with his family; he's an abusive terror, almost trying to start a full-scale war in his own home just so he can feel, well, normal.

Duvall is nothing short of brilliant in this movie -- he was nominated for an Oscar, and, in my opinion, he should've won it hands down. Also amazing is Blythe Danner as Lillian, his put-upon wife. An amazing character study that isn't always fun -- in fact, sometimes it's downright harrowing -- but definitely a great story with some incredibly moving performances. A-


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