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The Last Detail Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Dave McCoy

Overshadowed by his high-profile leads in such Super70s landmarks as Five Easy Pieces, Chinatown, and One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Nicholson's remarkably complex turn in this raucous yet ultimately somber road movie also remains his most underrated. As the snarling, hedonistic, but emotionally lost Navy lifer Billy Budduskey, Nicholson teams with fellow sailor "Mule" (Otis Young) on a seemingly simple duty of escorting a naive thief (Randy Quaid) from the Norfolk naval base to the brig in Massachusetts. Though polar opposites--Mule is hard-nosed Navy, while the first image of Budduskey shows him asleep in a chair, tattered and tattooed, gripping a near-empty bottle of cheap wine--both sailors learn that the 18-year-old will lose eight years of his life for a petty theft, and agree to cram his lost years into one booze-, sex-, and drug-infested (lost) weekend. From bizarre religious ceremonies to drunken nights in New York brothels, the two sailors provide all the sins they can think of, while their charge, Meadows, appears to go along just to please his escorts. The older sailors are definitely having more fun, essentially projecting all of their own lost freedom onto Meadows. The young sailor's ultimate doom mirrors the daily prison lived by both Budduskey and Mule, and director Hal Ashby hangs a decisive air of bleakness and claustrophobia over screenwriter Robert Towne's profane humor. When the question of whether to let the poor teenager escape ultimately arrives for the two sailors, the final decision is relatively pointless: in or out of prison, all three men are trapped by the Establishment and their own lost free will.

Academy Awards

The Last Detail received Academy Awards nominations for Actor (Jack Nicholson), Supporting Actor (Randy Quaid), Writing (Best Screenplay based on material from another medium; Robert Towne).

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Hal Ashby

Stars: Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Otis Young

Released: December 12, 1973

Availability: DVD VHS


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