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
Jack Nicholson, as SM1 Buddusky, says "Marines are really assholes, you know that? It takes a certain kind of sadistic temperament to be a Marine." In A Few Good Men (1992), Nicholson portrayed Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, USMC. See more »
About 50 minutes into the movie, the trio are walking by Gate 4 at the train station. One of the Marines they are about to fight is walking ahead of them. Moments later, the same Marine and several others are walking behind them. See more »
A Well Acted, Sober Film About Unpleasant Responsibilities
Don't let the fact that the DVD cover makes this movie look like gay porn keep you from seeing it.
Director Hal Ashby made a string of unfussy but very, very good films throughout the 1970s, and "The Last Detail" is one them. The story doesn't sound like much: two Navy officers are assigned to escort a third to the prison where he will be serving time. Along the way, the requisite male bonding ensues, and the older, jaded officer (Jack Nicholson) has a chance to reflect upon his own fortune and misfortune and be a sort of father figure, for better or worse, to his young and troubled charge (played extremely well by Randy Quaid).
Like all of Ashby's films, "The Last Detail" challenges things like duty and institutional authority, which made Ashby one of the most vocal of the anti-establishment directors from a volatile period of American history. But also like all of his films, it poses challenges in a low-key, non-confrontational way, without sacrificing its bite.
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