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The Great Santini (1979)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 2,844

My Rating

Movie Info

Bull Meechum (Robert Duvall) loves fighting almost as much as he loves the Marine Corps. Profane, cocky, and arrogant, he's a great fighter pilot -- and he knows it. His boss hates his guts, but knows that if he's going to straighten out his lagging squadron, Meechum is the man to do it. The story and irony of The Great Santini is in Meechum's total intolerance of family life and fatherhood. Meechum has a lovely, supportive wife, Lillian (Blythe Danner), an earnest, likeable son, Ben (Michael



Lewis John Carlino

Nov 23, 1999

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (22) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

This is one of those special films that moves effortlessly between tension, tears and laughs ... Robert Duvall's performance runs neck-and-neck with his Lonesome Dove turn as his career best.

August 17, 2013 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Two-dimensional and minor.

April 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

An emotionally devastating drama with a first rate performance from Robert Duvall.

October 27, 2006

Robert Duvall and Michael O'Keefe turn in powerful, Oscar nominated performances in this familiar family melodrama about tyrannical marine-father who bullies his sensitive son so that he can become a real man.

July 4, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com


December 21, 2004 | Comment (1)
Greenwich Village Gazette

Duvall as rough, tough Marine in downer story of family conflict

October 23, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Fantastic performances by Duvall and O'Keefe highlight this father-son tug-of-war.

October 14, 2004
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

The Great Santini is a convincing portrait of the battles between a military man and his coming-of-age son.

January 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Offers a whole lot more than just Duvall's flawless performance.

July 26, 2002

Audience Reviews for The Great Santini

Underrated classic. Robert Duvall at his best.
May 10, 2009
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The Great Santini (1979): Starring Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O'Keefe
A slow-simmering "sleeper" of a film, The Great Santini wavers between promising drama and goofy afterschool special. Robert Duvall plays "Lt. Col. 'Bull' Meechum" (the "Great Santini", although it's never explained what that means exactly), a drunken, abusive airforce lieutenant not accustomed to civilian life with his ever suffering family. Blythe Danner adopts a southern accent to play Lillian, Meechum's resolutely devoted wife. She looks at her husband with a hero-worshipper's eyes, yet doesn't necessarily forgive his abusive 'persona'. But it's the father's relationship with oldest son, Ben (Michael O'Keefe- best known for his role as "Danny Noonan" in "Caddyshack") that is the real focus of the story. The son seems to do everything he can to please his father, but it's never good enough. In a scene directly lifted and used in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me", Meechum repeatedly hits his son in the face with a basketball, taunting "Are you gonna cry now? C'mon, squirt a few", and "1-2-3...cry! 1-2-3... cry!" after the son dares to beat the father in a game of one-on-one. The father treats his whole family as if they were a platoon of grunts, barking orders, calling his sons his "favorite daughters", waking them up at 3am, in short, making their life a bootcamp hell. The movie begins with the Lieutenant picking his family up and moving them down to the deep south (his latest deployment is teaching flight combat to a class of pilots) and from there, the movie splits it's time between the family's inter-relations and the bigotry and racism of the 1960s. The basketball theme returns later in the movie, as the father orders the son into doing something against the rules (and his own moral judgement) and the son does so, at the expense of his team and himself. It's perhaps one time when the fathers' judgement is shown to be publically fallible, and it triggers something in the son. Later, when Ben rushes off to save his black friend, "Toomer" (Stan Shaw) from town racist "Red Petus" (David Keith) (where they come up with these names, I don't know), he disobeys his father's direct orders. This movie moves, at various times, from light-hearted comedy to serious drama (and not always with a smooth transition), and I can't say the supporting cast is always up to the acting level the drama requires. The writing helps alot, as most of the characters aren't one-dimensional, especially the Great Santini himself, Lt. Meechum. He's a mean son-of-a-bitch, but it's not an intentional hatred, any more than a pitbull intends to be vicious: it's just the way he was bred. In the end, we're left wondering if the family ever really loved him, or just wanted him gone. The script also falters at the end, though, as we get 3 or 4 false endings, and by the fourth we are just praying for it to end already.
September 23, 2008
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Duvall embodies cockiness to the nth degree as he sets unrealistic expectations for his offspring in living up to the greatness of Santini. It borders on annoying by the end but it is nonetheless a great character created.
October 2, 2013
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

I thought the kid who played Benny was a bit much. It was a bit unbelievable. Otherwise, the movie was pretty good. Duvall's character was funny. Sad though!
October 14, 2009

Super Reviewer

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