Monday, 7 February 2011

The Last Detail

Buddusky suggests their next move.
Daryl Ponicsan is best known as the author of the 1971 novel The Last Detail which in 1973 was adapted into a film and directed by Hal Ashby, who two years previous had successfully directed the offbeat comedy/romance Harold and Maude. The Last Detail stars Jack Nicholson as Signalman 1st Class Billy L. “Bad Ass” Buddusky, Otis Young as Gunner Mate 1st Class “Mule” Mulhall and Randy Quaid as Seaman Laurence M “Larry” Meadows. This simple well told story unfolds as follows. Two hardened career petty officers, Buddusky and Mulhall are detailed to take the young naive seaman from the Navel Base in Virginia to a New Hampshire Navel Prison to serve an eight-year sentence for attempting to steel $40 dollars from the Polio charity box! The two officers take a liking to Meadows and decide to show the lad a good time on their journey north. Their adventures begin with a near bar fight in Washington, getting blind drunk in their hotel room, they tangle with some Marines in New York and in Boston they make sure that their young prisoner does not start his eight -year prison stretch without loosing his virginity!

Ashby’s best film was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and Nicholson, whose body of work to date had included Easy Rider(1969) and Five Easy Pieces (1970), was awarded Best Actor. It also gained three Academy Award nominations but failed to pick up any which is a great shame because this film is truly a classic example of what can be done with a very understated uncomplicated story. Try and get a copy of this film if for no other reason than to see Jack Nicholson at his very best.

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