Two bawdy, tough looking navy lifers - "Bad-Ass" Buddusky, and "Mule" Mulhall - are commissioned to escort a young pilferer named Meadows to the brig in Portsmouth. Meadows is not much of a thief. Indeed, in his late teens, he is not much of a man at all. His great crime was to try to steal forty dollars from the admiral's wife's pet charity. For this, he's been sentenced to eight years behind bars. At first, Buddusky and Mulhall view the journey as a paid vacation, but their holiday spirits are quickly depressed by the prisoner, who looks prepared to break into tears at any moment. And he has the lowest self-image imaginable. Buddusky gets it into his head to give Meadows a good time and teach him a bit about getting on in the world. Lesson one: Don't take every card life deals you. Next, he teaches Meadows to drink, and, as a coup de grace, finds a nice young whore to instruct him in lovemaking. Mule, who worries aloud about his own position with military authority, seems pleased ...Written by
In 2017, Richard Linklater announced a sequel "Last Flag Flying" which would have Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne, and Steve Carell playing the parts previously done by Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and Randy Quaid. See more »
When Meadows is in the office waiting to leave for prison, the camera is focused on his shoes, which are all scuffed, but in later scenes his shoes are shined. See more »
Look, those are the rules. Doesn't matter if it's 10 hours or 10 seconds.
Okay, tootsie. We'll stake him to another shot.
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They don't seem to make movies like this anymore, do they?
While the question is a bit rhetorical, I do mean it- you don't see that many movies made anymore like this, The Last Detail by Hal Ashby (Being There) and Robert Towne (later to write another Nicholson gem, Chinatown), where the story is just a baseline to the characters studied in subtle and not so subtle ways. It even grows on the viewer if seen multiple times, where what seems to be dragging on is loaded with nuance. There's a level of existentialism to it: how free are Buddusky and Mulhall, or their choices? Probably not much at all, at least not any more or less than the doomed Meadows. But this is not the only method of Ashby on the material, there are also superlative performances from Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and a newcomer at the time, Randy Quaid.
Nicholson and Young play Buddusky (Bad-ass), and Mulhouse (Mule), who are assigned "chicken-s*** detail", to transport petty thief Quaid, sent up for eight years in a naval brig. On the way up the Eastern seaboard, the three stop in Washington, New York, and Boston, and the two try to show the youngster a good time before imprisonment. Probably one of the most under-looked pictures of the 1970's, though one of the more note-worthy, especially for it's attitude delivered ten-fold by Nicholson's Cannes winning Buddusky, and Towne script. A scene in a bar in Washington and a scene at a Nichiren Shosu meeting steal the lot, though there's plenty to look for. It's one of my favorite tragic-comic sleepers, and one of Ashby's best.
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