Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trailer Tuesday: THE LAST DETAIL

THE LAST DETAIL (1973)

There was a time when Jack Nicholson wasn’t a parody of himself and played a variety of diverse roles on film like the introverted writer in KING OF MARVIN GARDENS and the troubled oil rig worker in FIVE EASY PIECES. He usually played a rebel, but part of that had to do with the films being made in the 70s. Though he’d been in films and on TV since 1956, he got his big break when he replaced Rip Torn as the lawyer in EASY RIDER... which, of course, lead to the romantic interest in a Barbra Streisand musical. Seriously. Back in the late 70s the San Francisco Film Festival did a retrospective on Jack Nicholson, and being a stupid teenager I decided to sneak back stage after wards and talk to Jack, because he was a screenwriter as well as an actor. Did you know that? Yes, he’s written six produced scripts (and probably a stack of others) and directed 4 films. He’s not just a pretty face. Anyway, Nicholson could have had security remove me, but instead talked to me and called my business cards “pretty fancy”. Basically he encouraged me to stick with it, and told me it took him fifteen years to become an overnight success (everybody says that, but he *did* tell me that). So many of Nicholson’s films are kind of forgotten today, so I thought we’d look at one of my favorites.



Between KING OF MARVIN GARDENS and CHINATOWN, Nicholson made THE LAST DETAIL, which is another one of those “perfect storm” movies for me, where the writer is one of my favorites, the director is one of my favorites, and the star is one of my favorites. The script is based on a novel by Darryl Ponicsan, who was one of my favorite writers at the time... and was a hot novelist at the time who wrote CINDERELLA LIBERTY which was made into a hit movie, and his novels TOM MIX DIED FOR YOUR SINS, THE RINGMASTER, and THE ACCOMPLICE were some of my favorite books at the time. The screenwriter is Robert Towne, who wrote CHINATOWN and a bunch of others and got his start writing movies for Roger Corman (probably some starring Nicholson). The director is Hal Ashby, who directed HAROLD & MAUDE, SHAMPOO, BOUND FOR GLORY, COMING HOME, BEING THERE and many others. Music by Johnny Mandel who wrote the theme to M*A*S*H which you probably know. And, of course Nicholson starred in the film. All of these people I love working on the same film!

Best Movie Ever Made



The story is about an impossibly young Randy Quaid playing a new Navy recruit named Meadows who has been convicted of stealing some change from the camp charity box and sentenced to 8 years in prison. The two Shore Patrol Officers who will take him to prison are Badass Buddusky (Nicholson) and Mule Mulhall (Otis Young), and they start out thinking this is just another transport job, but when they find out Meadows is a virgin who has never had a drink in his life... they decide to take a little detour and show him a good time before he spends the next 8 years behind bars. Carol Kane is the hooker who pops his cherry and Gilda Radner is a hippy chick and Nancy Allen is in there, too. It’s basically a road trip with these three guys going by train, car, and on foot sometimes from the Navy Base to the Naval Prison, with some side trips to New York City. At the core of the story, the two Shore Patrol guys have to follow rules that make no sense at all... and begin to question the authority of the government and maybe even society. The film is funny and rebellious and melancholy.

"I am the motherfucking shore patrol, motherfucker! I am the motherfucking shore patrol! Give this man a beer."

It’s weird that films like this, which were hits in their day and starred people who are still stars and working in Hollywood, seem to have been lost. People don’t know about them, and they aren’t on BluRay and the DVD is 15 years old. I remember when the film first came out, it was notorious for having lots of bad language (which doesn’t seem so bad these days), but it may not be for everyone. Check it out.

Bill

2 comments:

Cllr Keith Martin said...

Pretty cool story of Jack being pretty cool.

Hal Weaver said...

One of my favorite Nicholson films and a rare case where I thought the movie was better then the book, particularly the ending. The story begins in Norfolk, Va. and the bus station shown in the film was shot there and that is still the bus station. I just drove past it yesterday.

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