(Review originally written at 4 December 2009)

I think '70's comedies are being somewhat underrated. The '70's in general were a great era for film-making, mainly due to its atmosphere but also somewhat more realistic approach of film-making. This movie is a realistic comedy with real persons, going through some ordinary ordeals. I mean sure, it's a comedy so it goes for a laugh or two but yet the movie manages to not go over-the-top or to force anything and instead everything that happens in this movie feels like it really could happen on a common average day when a bunch of marines are being set loose on a special detail.

It's basically a very simple movie with a simple concept, in which a prisoner needs to be taken from point A to point B. The young marine that is being held prisoner is played by Randy Quaid and his escorts are played by Jack Nicholson and Otis Young. Of course the three start to bond and decide to have some fun before they have to put Quaid into jail. It easily could had turned into a comedy like "The Hangover" for instance in which the main characters come across some crazy characters and weird situations. The movie is never tempted to do so though and instead it's a more cynical and restrained movie, that works out so really well mostly due to its cast members.

What I really like about the movie is that the characters give you a real sense of what it must be like to be a marine in the United States navy. The way they talk and behave feels really realistic and you simply just buy it that these two main characters have been marines for years now and are sort of stuck in their situation and wouldn't know anything else to do with their lives anyways.

It's a movie that deliberately is slow at times to build up the characters, as well as the progressing story. There are some great scenes in which we simply observe the character's behavior to some very common everyday things, in order to get to know them and understand what makes them tick.

The movie foremost has a great performance from Jack Nicholson in it, who really seems to be doing his own thing and is confident with his acting style, like he had been a big star for years already. Thing is, Nicholson at the time of this production wasn't even that well known yet. Sure he had done "Easy Rider" already but his role in that movie really wasn't anything big. Yet he had already managed to receive two Oscar nomination prior to this movie, including one for his role in "Easy Rider". It tells you something about the great actor that Jack Nicholson is. He just always does his own thing and puts his personal stamp on a movie and always gets full appreciation for it, even when the movie itself isn't that good. For this movie he actually received his third Oscar nomination, which to me seems like he real great accomplishment. I mean it's not that common ever for an actor to receive an Oscar nomination in that category for a role in a comedy. Randy Quaid also got nominated, as well as the script but the movie ended up empty handed eventually on the big evening.

Of course not that that matters much though, fore "The Last Detail" still remains a really great movie to watch, that got made very well and has some outstanding performances by the actors in it.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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