7.2/10
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42 user 27 critic

The Great Santini (1979)

PG | | Drama | 26 October 1979 (USA)
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2:41 | Trailer
As he approaches manhood, Ben Meechum struggles to win the approval of his demanding alpha male father, an aggressively competitive, but frustrated Marine pilot.

Director:

Lewis John Carlino

Writers:

Pat Conroy (novel), Lewis John Carlino (written for the screen by)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Duvall ... Bull Meechum
Blythe Danner ... Lillian Meechum
Michael O'Keefe ... Ben Meechum
Lisa Jane Persky ... Mary Anne Meechum
Julie Anne Haddock ... Karen Meechum
Brian Andrews ... Matthew Meechum
Stan Shaw ... Toomer Smalls
Theresa Merritt ... Arrabella Smalls
David Keith ... Red Pettus
Paul Mantee ... Col. Virgil Hedgepath
Michael Strong ... Col. Varney
Bennett Liss Bennett Liss ... Corp. Atcherly
Joe Dorsey ... Coach Spinks
David Frankham ... Capt. Weber
Jan Stratton 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Santini See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,527, 28 October 1979

Gross USA:

$4,702,575

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,702,575
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The South Carolina house, where much of the movie takes place, is the same house in Beaufort used in The Big Chill (1983). It is known as the "Edgar Fripp Home" as well as "Tidalholm". See more »

Goofs

During the last scene of Bull Meechum with his family on the porch prior to the Prom the youngest son is wearing a jacket covered in aviation patches. One of these patches is for the F-14 Tomcat which first flew in 1970 and wasn't operationally deployed until 1974. The film is set in 1962. See more »

Quotes

Lillian Meechum: Your father is very nervous about this game. Look at me, youg lady! Look at me! You've got to interpret the signals he gives off!
Mary Anne Meechum: No problem! He always gives off the signals of a psychopathic killer, so it really doesn't matter how you interpret them !
See more »

Connections

Featured in An Officer and a Movie: The Great Santini (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodnight, Sweetheart
(uncredited)
Music by Ray Noble
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great story on the irony of being a Marine
16 December 2002 | by rlcsljoSee all my reviews

I have not seen this film in over 20 years, but having been in the Marines, it will always be burned in my memory. You may also have to be, or have been, a Marine to fully appreciate the film (although anyone that has lived under authoritarian rule must feel some sympathy for the situations presented).

Although the film may have been re-cut for video release, I remember Duvall's character as being a fully fleshed out dichotomy of a man who rebelled against authority when submission was called for (his practical jokes while performing military duties) and invoking authoritarianism when more compassion and understanding were called for (his family life).

This is what it was like to be a Marine: The Corps was your family and your family was just an inconvenient duty to be performed for society.

If the movie has been re-edited, I suggest you try to see the original theatrical release, if possible. I found it to be a thoughtful and powerful motion picture.


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