Review: The Last Detail
Blu-ray + DVD: The Last Detail (1973)
Based on the novel by Darryl Ponicsan, The Last Detail tells the story of 2 Navy ‘lifers’; ‘Badass’ Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and ‘Mule’ Mulhall (Otis Young) who are tasked with escorting young sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) from Norfolk, Virginia to a Navy prison in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. So begins a 5 day journey that will forever change the lives of all involved.
Busted on a trumped up charge of petty theft, where Meadows stole $40 from the Admirals wife favourite charity box, he is harshly sentenced to an 8 year prison stretch. Accompanying him on this fateful journey are Buddusky and Mulhall, who initially view the entire trip as a short vacation, but who, when learning more about Meadows and his sheltered life, decide to give him some experiences and memories that he will never forget.
Jack Nicholson is an actor who I have always admired since I first watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at a film club in 1978, and in The Last Detail he delivers one of my all time favourite performances by him. He is perfectly accompanied by Otis Young who complements Nicholson’s performance with aplomb and the pair of them ooze character from the screen, selling their personas as grizzled Navy lifers with such ease that you’d think they’d spent their entire lives at sea.
Kudos has to go to Randy Quaid as the young and worldly innocent Larry Meadows. Probably more remembered now for his part in saving the world in Independence Day and his infamous online videos of him having sex with his wife, The Last Detail shows that Randy certainly possess the acting chops to stand his ground with the best in the business. Upon watching this, it is all the more disheartening that his career trajectory saw him pigeonholed into playing bumbling buffoons.
While the storyline could well be read as ‘just another road trip’, The Last Detail is far more than drinking, fucking and fighting. While all those things DO happen along the way, the focus is on the emotions of the characters and the bond that is formed between them during their time together. Full of pathos and dark edged humour, this is a story where you genuinely care for the characters and feel empathy for all that they go through.
Once again Powerhouse Films have another classic release through their Indicator series and have already established themselves as a company to keep a VERY close eye on all of their releases.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• 4K restoration from the original negative
• Original mono audio
• Two presentations of the feature: the original, uncut theatrical version, and the world exclusive home video presentation of the 1976 TV syndication cut
• An Introduction by filmmaker Alexander Payne (2017, 5 mins)
• About a Trip (2017, 16 mins): an appreciation by Alexander Payne
• A Search for Truth (2017, 21 mins): an interview with editor Robert C. Jones
• An Interview with Michael Chapman (2004, 4 mins): the acclaimed director of photography discusses his work on The Last Detail
• Isolated score: experience Johnny Mandel’s original soundtrack music
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, available for both presentations of the feature
• Limited edition exclusive 28-page booklet with a new essay by Michael Pattison, and an examination of the 1976 TV cut
• UK Blu-ray premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 5,000 copies
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.