The Last Detail

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"No *#@!!* Navy’s going to give some poor **!!@* kid eight years in the #@!* brig without me taking him out for the time of his *#@!!* life."
  • R
  • 1973
  • 1 hr 43 min
  • 7.5  (27,932)
  • 86

The Last Detail is a 1973 American film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, and Otis Young. Adapted from a novel of the same name by Darryl Ponicsan, the film follows the story of two Navy lifers who are assigned to escort a young sailor to a naval prison after he is sentenced to eight years for a petty crime.

The film takes place in the early 1970s and is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Jack Nicholson stars as Billy 'Bad Ass' Buddusky, a blustery and profane veteran sailor who is assigned with his partner, Richard 'Mule' Mulhall (Randy Quaid), to escort a young sailor, Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid), to a naval prison. Meadows has been sentenced to eight years for the theft of $40 from a charity box.

The journey to the naval prison takes the trio on a road trip from Norfolk, Virginia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and along the way, they encounter a number of colorful characters and experience a variety of adventures. Initially, the two lifers are dispassionate about their mission, and see it as just another job. However, as they spend more time with Larry, they begin to develop a sense of empathy for him, and start to question the harshness of his sentence.

The Last Detail is a poignant and often hilarious tale about the loss of innocence, the corruption of authority, and the bonds of friendship. Jack Nicholson delivers an outstanding performance as the brash and charismatic Buddusky, which earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Randy Quaid is also excellent as the more reserved and introspective Mulhall, who serves as the perfect foil to Nicholson's larger-than-life performance. Otis Young rounds out the cast as the by-the-book Navy officer who is tasked with overseeing the transport of Meadows, and provides a fascinating contrast to the rough-and-tumble lifers.

One of the film's key themes is the idea of rebellion against authority, and the ways in which society tries to punish those who resist conformity. Meadows is a symbol of this rebellion, as he stands up against the rigid structure of the Navy and is punished for his defiance. The Last Detail raises important questions about the nature of justice, and whether punishment should always be commensurate with the crime.

Throughout the film, there is a sense of camaraderie and shared experience that develops between the three men. They become a sort of surrogate family, with Buddusky and Mulhall acting as mentors to Meadows. This relationship is tested when the two lifers are faced with a dilemma towards the end of the film that challenges their loyalty to both Meadows and the Navy.

The Last Detail is a timeless classic that remains relevant today, particularly in its exploration of themes such as justice, rebellion, and the power of friendship. It is a towering achievement in the careers of all involved, and a must-see for any fan of American cinema.

The Last Detail is a 1973 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 43 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 86.

The Last Detail
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 43 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (27,932)
  • Metascore