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
In 2013, Pat Conroy added a sequel to the family story he told in the "Santini" book and movie with his new memoir, "The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son". In it he describes how his mother Peg, dying of leukemia, asked to be portrayed by Meryl Streep in any future movie. See more »
In the night flying scene (which was actually a Day for Night shoot), when Bull lights the afterburners on his F-4, we barely see the afterburner flames inside the engine nozzles. At nighttime, the afterburner flames on an F-4 are visible to at least half the length of the aircraft behind the nozzles and up to over twice the length. See more »
[Walking down the hall at school]
Mary Anne Meechum:
They're staring at us like we're freaks or something.
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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Great first half, then sputters (don't read if you haven't seen the movie)
This movie is excellent for its first half: crisply delivered, well-developed, it takes chances that you don't see in films made today. Characters like Bull Meechum are usually, in contemporary films, greatly exaggerated or treated with utter contempt (the military dad in American Beauty as a typical example). This film delivers all the way through the basketball game episode.
Then it starts to fall apart. The episode with Toomer and Red seems like a mighty big price to pay just to show Bull's lack of sensitivity and empathy, or anything else it intends to show. Not too long after, Bull himself gets yanked right out of the movie. I really would have appreciated seeing all of these interesting characters resolve their differences - or see things come to a head. I just felt that the movie just quit with 30 minutes to go.
The music was also kind of hit and miss in the last half. For example, when Ben confesses that he prayed for his father's death, the music is inappropriately creepy. It resolves into sorrow, but the net result was kind of off-putting.
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