The Great Santini - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Santini Reviews

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June 14, 2016
I love this movie - it's probably a 4 star movie but I saw it first as a kid so it gets a nostalgia star - lol.
April 3, 2015
Just watched it for the first time because I never knew it existed!
March 6, 2015
Great introduction and story, but it unraveled at the end.
March 1, 2015
Just a well done family melodrama with oscar worthy performances by O'Keefe and Duvall.
February 25, 2015
I'm actually very surprised at how much I loved this movie. Going into it I expected some military movie but it's actually a family drama. Robert Duvall is great but the knock out performances come from Blythe Danner and Michael O'Keefe. Lisa Jane Persky is a scene stellar as the young daughter and adds nice comedic moments to an often times dark movie. It's well written and directed and I can't speak more highly of this great film.
March 21, 2014
The squadron used in the movie was mine when this was filmed - VMFA-312 Checkerboards. The aircraft was the F-4/J Phantom, some later modified to F-4/S. Their history goes back to WWII when in 1944 they formed as a fighter squadron with F4U Corsairs. There is a scene in the "ready room" with the real pilots and RIOs some of whom later died in their F-4s while practicing Air Combat Maneuvering. The funeral scene near the end of the movie took nearly all day to shoot because of weather but is just a few minutes in the movie. Robert Duvall is one of my favorite actors but the character Meechum (the squadron "Skipper") is pure baloney, the Corps would never allow anyone like that in their ranks. Hollywood can never get military right. Not that Marines couldn't be SOBs, some very much are. The movie is excellent otherwise but because Hollywood misused the role of the Skipper and portrayed him so unrealistically I can at best give this an average rating. Shame on Hollywood. They could have portrayed someone tough dealing with problems without resorting cheapness. Semper Fi.
November 17, 2013
I would like to see the movie, and I would like to know more about the military accomplishments of Bull Meechum, the Great Santini. He just wasn't meant to be a family man. That doesn't seem to be his calling.
Super Reviewer
October 2, 2013
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.
½ May 13, 2013
Good, but not great. Was set up to be a great human drama, but got sidetracked, and pulls its punches at the end. The sidetracking was due to trying to tackle one big issue too many (the issue being 1960s racism). The ending is emotional, but leaves a few things unresolved.

Superb performance by Robert Duvall in the lead role. Good support from Blythe Danner and Michael O'Keefe.
May 9, 2013
By the film description, I was expecting something much more regarding a father/son relationship oriented story. Instead, Robert Duvall plays the same character he did in "Apocalypse Now." The era the film takes place is about a decade prior to America's involvement in Vietnam, and almost acts as a prequel to Coppola's "Apocalypse Now." The man who loves the smell of napalm in the morning is at home...bringing up four kids with his stay at home wife in the south. He continues his career as a Marine, yet always takes his work home with him. He gets his children up very early every am. They refer to him as "sir!" during family meetings and receive discipline akin to boot camp training. Especially his oldest son. What turns into discipline, quickly escalates into abuse. The moral of the story? Love and honor your father... even when you know he is wrong. The film does an excellent job depicting a tough relationship like this, however the film really never delves into what made Duvall's character what he is. Perhaps the relationship with his father? His experiences in World War II?

The film ends poetically...a glimpse into the future that will be the Vietnam war...and the choices the family has to make forward. A movie that could have been great, but instead wanders into cliche storytelling.
October 28, 2012
shitty movie about a military family that no one really likes and i have to write a screening report on. Fuck Santini.
½ September 2, 2012
movie making at it's best -with regard to character development
and acting
July 24, 2012
Painful at times to watch, especially for those of us with father issues, but nonetheless an absolutely outstanding movie.
August 23, 2011
A classic.

Emotionally devastating...particularly if you are from a home where a tough as nails U.S. Marine set the laws. I unfortunately could relate to it all.

In time of war, it brings the true price of war (from an American perspective) boiling to the raw surface. We all must remember all those scarred from serving too many tours of duty for you and I.
June 1, 2011
amazing acting by Duvall. the story was sad until the very end (I thought); the poor son had to deal with all that jazz the whole movie, I was sorta sad I didn't think of asking my sister to the prom *blush*. I thought the saddest part by far was the black guy getting shot. Very multi-dimensional. Worth a watch if you wanna cry.
April 29, 2011
This movie should be seen by more people. Fantastic acting.
½ April 25, 2011
Part of my Robert Duvall tour. I'll only echo some other reviews of this I've read: that Duvall is better than good (not his best, but he's perpetually underrated) and that the older son, Ben, is not well-played. The story is a bit over-wrought, but that's something one gets with Pat Conroy books adapted to film. Conroy sort of beats you over the head, especially with race questions. I thought the role of the mother/wife was particularly well played by Danner. Still, I didn't feel like the film required me to invest into it - maybe that it wasn't believable? I hope that isn't because of its age; I didn't feel like the production quality was a barrier. The acting probably more so. 2.5 stars is a B- on my scale, so I'm not claiming it's a bad film at all.
½ March 21, 2011
Pretty much bad all-around.
½ December 11, 2010
Pat Conroy is one of the best American Authors of the past fifty years and has turned out some real works of literary magic from a prose stand point, his glittery and eloquent style juxtaposed with much cruder and dark subject matter. Some favorites of his include his memoir My Losing Season, Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music and this and while with the exception of perhaps The Water Is Wide all his films have the same ideas and themes to a ridiculous extreme his emotionally gripping and real stories have gathered an array of fans and much literary praise. So the reason this, one of his better works focused on the relationship of him and his Bull of a Marine Fighter Pilot Father, doesn't blow me away and have me singing praises and hungering for more like its novel counterpart is simply it's a weaker adaption, it's choppy, doesn't explain enough of the books story and convey its complex emotions and relationships very well and most importantly it tames its brutal subject matter which is something that will always disappoint me in a film. But nonetheless, is it worth your time or should it be dishonorably discharged? Let's take a South Carolinian look.

So the story begins with WWII fighter pilot Bull Meechum also known as The Great Santini (Robert Duvall who really had a knack for playing those loud mouth, tough as nails military types around this time...)living it up in his last days in the service over in Europe. After some amusing antics he heads back home to his family where the story really picks up, a charismatic, crazy Marine interacting in his family life though mostly with his oldest son Ben (Michael O'Keefe getting in one of the more solid teen performances of the decade before immediately plunging into mediocrity the next year with Caddyshack). We see the family again unearthed as they are after all army brats again and moved to South Carolina upon his return and typical life in the south drama (he has a black friend and half the town is racist towards him!) is mixed in with Santini's bullying parenting anchored by Duvall's strong and riveting performance. And the plot follows typical Pat Conroy plot devices, abusive Dad, black friend, racism in the town, evil bastard character who is eaten by an animal,a humorous and strong bond with siblings and eventual reconciliation with father. It leaves out the rape but don't worry it's in the book, if it worked once of course Conroy will use it again!

As a whole I enjoyed it, but it still had the feel of this gritty true to life drama and never delivered with a real and natural balls out climax. I mean it had two surprising and crazy scenes where a character dies actually but both felt so forced and unnecessary like the writers were just like, wait this is supposed to be pretty intense isn't it...let's kill a character and it certainly fails at delivering the emotional payoff. But the biggest flaw that the book suffers from too is that Santini doesn't seem like that bad of a father...In the pantheon of Fathers in Pat Conroy Books he probably wouldn't even be up there so you're kind of left wondering if some scenes are supposed to have different effects on us. Prince of Tides brilliantly created a crazy over the top abusive father who in one scene smashes the mothers face into the TV for daring to insist he sing Happy Birthday to his twins and deals with the great psychological topic of how we love our parents despite whatever they've put us through. Meanwhile in this corner, MY father was more abusive than Santini and I don't consider myself a particularly abused child. I've seen Middle school bullies do more psychological and physical damage so I'm almost curious what a more in your face Director these days when abusive parents are far from taboo in Hollywood would do with the basis of this story.

But still this is the best movie based off a Pat Conroy book and captures that very Conroy feeling of warm fuzziness mixed with joking bravado. It's a successful film as an adaption and in its own right and while some parts haven't aged very well I can only think of one stupid and exceedingly poorly done scene that could never be saved...you'll know it, you'll have doubts that it's it at first but it goes on for a long, long time. Plus it's pretty cool that the nice house they use in this was later used as the summer house in The Big Chill, after having it pointed out I could totally tell it was rather neat. So whether a fan of Conroy, the military, family dramas, Robert Duvall or indeed 70s Cinema this forgotten film is one well worth checking out.
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