The Last Detail - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Detail Reviews

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hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2012
Two Navy men escort a hapless kleptomaniac to an unreasonable prison term.
Before he was a personality, Jack Nicholson was an actor. In many of his more recent films, Jack has played Jack, the smarmy, over-confident lady-killer with a devilish smile. But before "Jack," Nicholson did films like Carnal Knowledge and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. The Last Detail has a lot of "Jack" moments in which Nicholson gives us his characteristic smarm and bucks authority with abandon, but the scene in which Nicholson's character, Buddussky, talks about a Meadows's milquetoast response to injustice, we see a pit of rage released, and throughout the rest of the film, Buddusky's anger at the world comes to the forefront in all his antics. Yes, he wants to show Meadows a good time before Meadows goes to prison, but mostly, Buddusky wants revenge against the world. In this way, Nicholson creates a real character, not a persona, and what could have been a lame buddy road comedy turns into a decently substantive film.
Randy Quaid is quite good in an "aw, shucks" Charlie Brown kind of way, and he even handles the dramatic scenes well.
Overall, it's the young Jack Nicholson who makes this film, and viewers of my generation who never got to know him as an actor should check out this classic.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2012
The 1970's is arguably the best decade for classic American films. It produced such quality as "The Godfather parts I & II", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Serpico", "Mean Streets", "Jaws" and "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest", to name a few. It heralded the reputation of the likes of Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and this film's star Jack Nicholson. This is another, that could be included amongst the greats of that decade.
Two career Navy men, "Bad-Ass" Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and "Mule" Mulhall (Otis Young) are commissioned to escort young kleptomaniac Meadows (Randy Quaid) to the brig for petty theft. En-route, the two lifers realise that young Meadows is actually quite a naive and innocent young man, who hasn't experienced much of life. Before they deliver him to an eight year sentence in prison, they decide to show him a good time and teach him a little of life's pleasures.
"...I knew a whore once in Wilmington. She had a glass eye... used to take it out and wink people off for a dollar." Where else can you get a quote like that, delivered in such dead-pan style from the great Jack Nicholson? In fact, for that matter, most of Nicholson's performances deliver at least one choice quote. His career is full of them and few can deliver a line like he can. If you appreciate such moments, then this film delivers plenty of them. It's mainly dialogue driven and character based, providing another classic Nicholson performance. As well as, fine support in Otis Young and a young Randy Quaid. All three of them are an absolute joy to spend time with. The dialogue is razor-sharp from screenwriter Robert Towne (a year before another 70's classic "Chinatown) and director Hal Ashby skilfully combines the comedy and the drama to near perfection. Ashby was a director that consistently delivered superb human drama's throughout his career ("Harold And Maude" and "Coming Home" are a couple of notable ones) but he didn't quite get the plaudits or reputation that his peers received. However, with films of this calibre, his abilities still stand the test of time.
Humour and pathos can be a marvellous combination when done right and Ashby certainly does that... he gets it spot on.
It may be their 'Last Detail' but I for one, wish it was their first.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2011
Hal Ashby's wonderfoul, almost documentary, direction, together with Robert Towne's screenplay and the great friendship of characters Badass (Nicholson), Mule (Young) and Meadows (Quaid), made The Last Detail, a classic of 70's. A film whose showing that comradery is making with the most impossible situation. An critic of a would full with unjust, commands and obligations, thing that the trio dribble. Original, brilliant...Fresh.
maxthesax
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2011
The 1973 film The Last Detail, tells the story of two navy MPs taking a clueless young sailor to military prison, complete with escapades, social commentary, and the revelations they have along the way.

The film stars The Jack, who garnered a best actor nom (but lost to the other Jack (Lemon) for his role in Save The Tiger). The direction (by Hal Ashby, who also directed Shampoo, Harold and Maude and Being There) is simple, straight forward, and aimed at realism; as films tended to be in the 70's.

Nominated for best screenplay as well, the film throws in a bit of social commentary, especially when Nicholson puts the peddle to the metal in dressing down a "cracker" bartender (remember, we're less then 10 years removed from all the civil rights protests). The film also skewers the military power structure and, in a offbeat moment, lampoons fad religions (in fact, you could say it is this fad religion, based on chanting some mystical mumbo jumbo to get what you want, is what drives the second half of the film. In a wonderfully written touch, simpleton Meadows (who is headed for an 8 year stint in the clink for attempting to rob 40 bucks out of a charity drop box that is the base commander's wife's pet project) chants to get laid. Low and behold a female "follower" of the religion overhears him and invites Meadows and his two MPs over to her place for a party. She takes Meadows upstairs and everyone believes that his wish is about to come true... but the follower instead starts earnestly chanting, wishing that he somehow escapes prison.

Meadows finally gets his wish, thanks to Jack, who decides that the 18 year old needs a woman before he gets buggered in prison. The trio finds a whorehouse and Meadows is introduced to Carol Kane, who, ahem, assists him in his quest.

In a way, this is a buddy film, showing the odd bonding of the trio as they travel by train, plane and... bus to get to a destination they all are in no hurry to get to.
Quaid was nominated for best supporting actor (losing to John Houseman for Paper Chase) for his seamless portrayal of the non-too-bright Meadows, giving the film a certain charm to balance the crusty, yet man with a soul, Nicholson.

The realistic nature of the filming is both a blessing and a curse. You really believe you are a fly on the wall, just watching the three main characters as they interact (and I should mention Otis Young, who does a fine job as the third musketeer); but the sound editing is horrible, with way too much background noise interfering with the dialog. Again, this is part and parcel of the era in which the film was produced.

Aside from the 3 amigos, there is some suspect acting in bit parts, especially in the beginning sequences taking place at the navy base which prevent me from rating this higher, (although some of the bit parts later are well done, especially Nancy Allen (as the religious party girl)and Carol Kane).

I should also mention, just as an aside, that there is a very small speaking role (as one of the fad religion groupies) by the late great comic Gilda Radner (and if you don't know of whom I speak, then you must have missed the golden age of Saturday Night Live).

As the two MPs walk out of the picture, mission more or less accomplished, you can reflect back on where they've been and what they've learned and wonder, in a larger context, if we can't all do the same.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
This is a fantastic slice of life type story, with a fantastic cast and director. It's a fantastic movie, and I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2010
Itā??s such an original story that taps into the unseen world of the Navy. Not only are you exposed to the bizarre regulations and enforcements, but you also get a really fun road movie out of it. While itā??s an extremely dramatic and deep story, itā??s also a lot of fun. As usual, you are exposed to Jack Nicholson in one of the most odd ways possible. His character is so interesting to watch. At times, heā??s a very headstrong tough guy and at others he shows signs of a very compassionate and loving person. I love the idea that itā??s such a bleak outlook and doesnā??t produce a normal feel good ending with a giant revelation. I think itā??s extremely brave and socially aware, even today.
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2008
Very nice film. I love the score in this.
Super Reviewer
½ July 12, 2007
Hilarious but also touching story about the bond created among three sailors, in their series of mishaps, and attempts to properly bid farewell the younger and inexperienced one in the group, who is about to serve time in prison and knows the other two only because they were commissioned to escort him.
But, as all great things in life, duty soon becomes joy, and these adventurous trio surely won't forget the fantastic initiation journey they embarked on.
Super Reviewer
May 17, 2007
Nicholson is great in this, even though the movie itself isn't. I'd much rather watch Midnight Run.

However the "I am the motherfucking shore patrol, motherfucker! I am the motherfucking shore patrol! Give this man a beer!" scene is genius
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2007
This redneck's talkin' bout firearms.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2006
Jack Nicholson is a magical combination of rambunctious and hilarious as Bad Ass in this riotous and sometimes touching movie wonderfully done by Hal Ashby. The drunken parking lot and hotel scenes are great, but the bar scene is one of my new favorite scenes ever. ("I am the motherfucking shore patrol, motherfucker! I am the motherfucking shore patrol! Give this man a beer!") My only gripe was that the ending was kind of anticlimactic and really fizzled out even though I knew how it was going to end. But still--I'm not so sure that Chinatown is my favorite Nicholson movie anymore. It's also great for some much-needed laughs.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2007
Hal Ashby's best.
garyX
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2007
Alternately bleak and hilarious, a brilliant character study and social commentary. One of Jack Nicholson's defining roles.
Super Reviewer
November 20, 2013
This on-the-brink-of-stardom vehicle for Jack Nicholson is very entertaining. Hollywood has done a number of movies about Navy men in town but they are surpassed by this effort. Very entertaining.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2010
A superior comedy-drama about two bawdy sailors escorting young hapless kleptomaniac sailor to a military prison. Robert Towne's brilliant off-color dialogue contributes to a marvelous quintessential Nicholson performance as the honcho of the detail, " Bad Ass" Budduskly. There are other superb performances by Otis Young as Nicholson's partner "Mule" Mulhall and young Randy Quaid in a Oscar nominated performance as their prisoner. The detail turns into a sort of last celebration of life for the young prisoner when his two jailers take pity on him and show him a good time. A entertaining and moving film, which contains one of Nicholson's finest performances. Highly Recommended.
mattsigur1
Super Reviewer
July 28, 2010
I hate this mother fuckin chicken-shit detail!
divinetrash
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2010
First things first: That is the worst poster ever for a movie ever in the world ever! Now, as for the film itself, it is sweet, funny and tragic all at the same time - in the tradition of Hal Ashby's work - and Jack Nicholson delivers what I personally find to be his best performance.
Dracula787
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2008
A movie from the 70s golden age from director Hal Ashby. This one received a certain infamy for being the first Hollywood movie to really throw around the F-word freely. ?Fuck? had been a part of R-rated Hollywood cinema since it was introduced in Robert Altman?s M*A*S*H in 1970, but this was the first to have its characters really saying ?fuck this? and ?fuck that? all over the place. It only really had about 80 of them (which is nothing compared to the 300+ in Casino), but it was pretty shocking for the time. That?s a neat thing to be remembered for, but this deserves to be known for much more than a little cussing. The film has Jack Nicholson in his prime and a young Randy Quaid to boot. The film is rather episodic, it follows two petty Navy officers as they escort a prisoner across the country, it?s essentially a road movie. There are a lot of neat scene, not an easy film to sum up. I enjoyed it a lot.
Super Reviewer
½ October 23, 2006
Considered to be Ashby's best, but personaly I prefered Harold & Maude. Still a good buddy flick with good performances.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2007
Fuckin' great. One of my favourite Nicholsan performances.
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