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The Last Detail (1973)

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Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison, but decide to show him one last good time along the way.

Director:

Hal Ashby

Writers:

Robert Towne (screenplay), Darryl Ponicsan (novel)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Buddusky
Otis Young ... Mulhall
Randy Quaid ... Meadows
Clifton James ... M.A.A.
Carol Kane ... Young Whore
Michael Moriarty ... Marine O.D.
Luana Anders ... Donna
Kathleen Miller ... Annette
Nancy Allen ... Nancy
Gerry Salsberg Gerry Salsberg ... Henry
Don McGovern Don McGovern ... Bartender
Pat Hamilton Pat Hamilton ... Madame
Michael Chapman ... Taxi Driver
Jim Henshaw Jim Henshaw ... Sweek
Derek McGrath ... Nichiren Shoshu Member
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Storyline

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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What's the Last Detail? 200 beers and a lot of laughs. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 February 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El último deber See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,000,000, 31 December 1974
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973) (ultimately played by Robert Redford), to appear in this film, which was written by his good friend Robert Towne. Nicholson thought that The Sting was too commercial. He and Redford were nominated as Best Actor of 1973 at the Academy Awards, losing out to Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger (1973). See more »

Goofs

When Meadows takes his first bite of his first hot dog dipped in mustard, he opens his mouth - and his tongue is already stained bright yellow. See more »

Quotes

Buddusky: [listening to Nichiren Shoshu members singing a happy song]
Buddusky: Why does all of this make me feel so fucking bad?
See more »


Soundtracks

Never Let The Left Hand Know
by Jack Goga
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User Reviews

 
A Week In The Life Of Two Lifers
8 December 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

My absolutely favorite Jack Nicholson film has always and forever will be The Last Detail. I don't think he was ever better on the screen as William Baddusky of the United States Navy. I enjoyed his performance and the film itself on so many levels. Probably not surprising since the script was done by Robert Towne who would soon be teaming with Nicholson again for the critical and popular success Chinatown.

It's a simple story, not really any plot to the film. Two sailors, Jack Nicholson and Otis Young, both of them lifers in the Navy are stationed in Norfolk and get themselves an assignment to escort a prisoner to the Naval Stockade at Portsmouth. Of course with the per diem allowance for the two men and the prisoner and five days to travel in, Nicholson and Young are thinking of a mini-spree at government expense.

It comes to that and a lot more. the prisoner is newcomer Randy Quaid whose big crime is that he attempted to steal $40.00 from a charity collection box. For that he's getting eight years in military prison and a dishonorable discharge. A dishonorable discharge even today is not a good thing for one's resume.

As Nicholson and Young both remark, someone really stuck it to him. Let's face it what Quaid did in civilian life would probably be considered petty larceny and his jail time might be measured in days. Turned out it was the base commander's wife's favorite charity so it got stuck to him good. Sad because the indications we get is that Quaid was a troubled kid in civilian life and probably military service offered him a chance to straighten up and fly right.

It's done that for many others including Nicholson and Young who make it very clear even on this disagreeable detail they do like the Navy and like serving in it.

They've got five days to deliver Quaid to Portsmouth so the journey becomes quite the odyssey for the three of them up the Atlantic coast. The three men have a great chemistry between them, you get involved with their lives and really feel for young Quaid and his plight. Quaid gets shown a good time and maybe that's not such a good thing considering what he is facing.

The Last Detail is a nice realistic look at the military both its flaws and good points. A lot of similarity here in the issues raised to From Here to Eternity and if I mention The Last Detail in the same sentence favorably as From Here to Eternity, you know how good it must be.


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