34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2003
'We ain't leaving this town until we've got ourselves a belly-full of beer!' Jack Nicholson's smile seems to spread halfway across the screen. This film's like the canal near my old house: it seems a lot shallower than it actually is. It's about lots of things - the way men bond; the effects of a broken home; America after Vietnam - but they're all wrapped up subtly in humourous scenes which could easily be misunderstood as merely 'laddish'. Fantastic script, fantastic editing, and all put together perfectly by Hal Ashby. In my opinion, this is an overlooked New Hollywood classic.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2008
This Jack Nicholson road movie made when he was pretty much still typecast as the anti hero drifter rebel type he played so convincingly, is choc full of those Kerouac type one liners he loved. A crackling screenplay with some good scenes gives the man real opportunities to do his party pieces, as well as show a real gift for world worn cynicism. His acting is just so natural, yet very, very powerful. Has there ever been another movie actor like him, I ask.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2006
I watched this film for the first time ever last night and I thought it was outstanding. 2 US Navy Petty Officers have to escort a young rating who has been sentenced to eight years for stealing a $40 (which he never actually got). This seems harsh. well the money was destined for the rating's CO's wife's favourite charity! The PO's feel sorry for the 18 year old rating and decide to show him some of life before he serves his sentence, after which he was to be thrown out of the Navy anyway. They get him drunk, start a fight with some Marines, get him laid, teach him to stand up for himself, even stumble across a Hare Krisna prayer meeting! But this film isn't some buddy road movie. To me it's all about being caught up in something where you feel helpless and trying to beat the system, set as it is just at the end of the Vietnam War. Where there is injustice but everybody opts to do nothing. I can't wait to get my own copy of this DVD and share it with friends
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a surprisingly powerful film about two grunts who are charged to deliver a man across country to jail. They are sailors waiting for reassignment, given a regretful task that no one else would want; they are limited men, getting by, if barely. The prisoner, Randy Quaid in one of his first major roles, is a complete loser in life - inhibited, stupid, a compulsive thief, simply clueless about what is facing him. That this motley crew can not only get on, but actually communicate some caring and enjoy eachothers' company is an amazing journey in itself.
Nicholson is the leader, an alcoholic party man who wants to turn their time into fun. His colleague is a scared yes-man, without options and wary of any deviation from plan. They plan to go quickly and split the per diem, going their separate ways before reporting for duty. The 2 of them, as they continually fail to meet their schedule, are wonderfully believable, hilarious to watch, and yet you know they would be awful to deal with in real life. Quaid is painful to watch, yet also extremely sympathetic, a naif who is headed to what is sure to be degradation and horror in prison. Their chemistry is palpable, their empathy grows to the extent it can, and their misadventures will provide Quaid with a minimum of solace. It is extremely sad, touching, and quirky.
Recommended. You will not forget this film. It is truly a classic and one of Nicholson's best films.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Two older, grizzled sailors, transport a baby faced, vulnerable
young sailor to 8 years in prison for a pathetic, petty theft.
The acting is very good, especially Jack Nicholson
and Randy Quaid, and the film has lots of wonderful
moments and details.
That said, I've never loved it quite as much as many others
do. It feels a bit sappy at times, 'cute' at others, and the
story feels a bit too predicable.
We know from the start the two old salts will soften and
come to care for their charge, and they will all bond before
the journey ends.
Without the high level of talents involved, that predictability
could have sunk the film, but the brio of Nicholson, the sure
hand of director Hal Ashby, and Robert Towne's salty, idiosyncratic
script keep it afloat and always worth watching, if not quite rising
to 'great film' level for me
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2012
When you hear the name Jack Nicholson people always mention the obvious, Batman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, As Good as it Gets etc. The Last Detail hardly gets a mention however. I think that this movie definitely deserves to be ranked up there with Nicholson's best, not quite up there with Cuckoo's Nest but not far off. Also great performances by Otis Young and a very young Randy Quaid.
This movie could fit into many genres, comedy, drama, buddy. Its the story of two US Navy "Lifers" two men who probably couldn't fit into normal society and need the Navy who are assigned to take an 18 year old Seaman Meadows(Quaid) across America to the Brig.
Meadows has been given an eight year sentance and a dishonorable discharge for trying to steal 40 dollars that he didn't even get.
The two Lifers get to like Meadows, who is meek despite his huge size and who is also very naive and a virgin. The two decide to give Meadows the time of his life before he goes to Prison and the trip becomes an adventure full of brawling, booze and sex, I won't give away any more than that.
I would recommend this film to anybody, do yourself a favour and get it.
This 1973 'road movie' directed by maverick (and frequently 'out of control' - see Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls for details) film-maker Hal Ashby, with a script by Robert Towne (who wrote Chinatown) is an interesting little curiosity. For anyone wanting shoot-em-up thrills (or even major plot developments) this is probably not the film for you - however, instead we have a very low key drama as Jack Nicholson and Otis Young, playing, respectively, Navy petty officers Billy ('badass') Buddusky and Richard Mulhall, accompany Randy Quaid's 18-year old Navy 'rookie', Larry Meadows, across the US (from Virginia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire) where he is due to serve 8-years in the 'brig', with DD (dishonourable discharge), for attempting to pilfer $40 from a charity collection box. And although Ashby and Towne's film (and Darryl Ponicsan's novel on which it was based) is essentially an inconsequential (and, now, rather dated) tale of 'lads' antics', plus an element of 'coming of age' for Meadows, by the end I realised that The Last Detail is actually increasingly affecting (largely as a result of the film's central three acting performances).
Nicholson is, as ever, impressive as the (variously) disdainful, manic and cool Buddusky - and, although the man's performance is not of the stature of his turn two years later, it is perfectly conceivable to imagine Buddusky here 'becoming' Randle P McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Indeed, the navy man here tries to facilitate Meadows 'losing his cherry' (as he did for Brad Dourif's Billy in the later film). The (still) newcomer Quaid is also very good here as the 'innocent', apologetic, religious and 'wimpy' Larry, whose troubled upbringing begins to elicit his colleagues' (and the viewers') sympathy. Young delivers probably the most 'ordinary' of the three central performances - though still solid. Narrative-wise, the film is admittedly fairly predictable (though frequently very funny), as our 'anti-hero trio' happen upon (in sequence) a 'redneck' bartender, a visit to Larry's (empty) maternal home, a railway station washroom altercation with some marines, a 'new age hippy' (Buddhist) party (chanting and all - during which the film's political backdrop is revealed with talk of Nixon and Vietnam) and a (pretty much mandatory) visit to a whorehouse (for Larry's benefit).
Narrative predictability aside, however, by the time Buddusky and Mulhall present their charge to the officious marine authorities at Portsmouth, Ashby has (via the brilliant scene with Michael Moriarty's marine duty officer) distilled a brilliant summation of the pair's accumulated frustration (with life) and how much they feel for Meadows' (forthcoming) plight. I was certainly left feeling that Ashby's film had somehow transcended any sense of 'low-key predictability' into something greater than the sum of its parts.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2002
this film is one of jack nicholson's best movies,made when he was at the top of the pile of box office hollywood actors-chinatown,one flew over the cookoos nest,five easy pieces.
the film is a "buddy" movie and has some memerable scenes- its the story of 2 navy officers taking a navy prisoner to jail but along the way they feel sorry for this guy and treat him to good time before he is jailed.a funny movie with a thought provoking scene at the end. great performances by otis young and a very young randy quaid add to jack's bullish,and foul mouth, but sympathatic character.
all in all a great movie to watch with couple of cans o' beer.
on 7 December 2013
I had this little known film on VHS,and had ti get it on DVD,as it never fails to make me laugh! Nicholson as Buddusky is a must see! He does not care about what the navy wants him to do,He decides to do things his own way! If You want to see what I mean,get this film-you will be glad that You did-it will beat anything that will be on TV over Christmas!
on 11 September 2012
This film is Jack Nicholson at his best. The transformation of a cynical sailor nearing the end of his service [ hence the title] into a man who cares enough for his charge to ensure he has at least some pleasurable experiences to help him through a long prison sentence is classic. Excellent!