Rupert Pupkin Speaks: INDICATOR - THE LAST DETAIL On Blu-ray ""

Sunday, May 21, 2017


THE LAST DETAIL (1973; Hal Ashby)
It's been said of course that there are good movies and then there are great movies. THE LAST DETAIL is the latter and a film that I still don't think has quite reached the level of recognition it should have by now. Its pedigree is wonderful - Jack Nicholson in one of his best roles under the direction of the late great Hal Ashby (HAROLD & MAUDE, COMING HOME, BEING THERE), both working off of a script (adaptation) from Robert Towne (CHINATOWN). Nicholson plays U.S. Navy Petty Officer Billy Buddusky and his monicker translates quite nicely into his nickname - "Badass". Buddusky is a Navy "lifer" who is just out to have a good time and to avoid what he calls "shit details". Unfortunately, while awaiting their orders in Norfolk, Virginia - he and another petty officer (Richard "Mule" Mullhall) get stuck with just such a detail in that they are ordered to escort a young Seaman (played by Randy Quaid) to a Naval Prison in Maine. He to be incarcerated for eight years for trying to lift $40 from a collection box. This wouldn't seem like a major crime, but regrettably this particular collection box was the favorite charity of the young man's Commanding Officer's wife, so he got in much deeper trouble for messing with it. Both petty officers are initially quite irritated with their assignment, but soon settle in on a plan to rush the kid to jail and discuss how they will spend a little of the extra time they'll have if they get the job done quickly. They eventually take pity on the Seaman though and end up spending the extra time they have been allotted to give the kid a farewell tour of sorts and show him a good time before he goes inside. It is a remarkably funny and well acted movie and one of the great "road movies" of all-time. It's right up there with movies like MIDNIGHT RUN (which would make a great double feature with THE LAST DETAIL) and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP - both of which are favorites of mine (as is THE LAST DETAIL). What's funny is that this movie was a trouble spot for Columbia pictures execs for all the swearing (and the movie does have a lot of cursing indeed). The contextual place of that sort of thing is also interesting too me. 1973, while we might think of it as a part of a progressive time in American cinema, was still just a few short years removed from the collapse of the Hollywood Era Production Code and the rise of movie ratings and the MPAA. It should be less of a surprise then to think of nervous executives and their concern of foul language - to be fair, a WHOLE lot of foul language - in a film they were about to produce. The swearing in the movie, while there is quite a lot of it, doesn't seem nearly as racey nowadays especially with much of the stuff we see on pay television networks where "gritty" has become the standard operating procedure.
One thing I love about movies and looking back on them is context. Hal Ashby was coming off the commercial and critical failure of HAROLD AND MAUDE when he came on board this project. Now it's funny to think of HAROLD AND MAUDE as a failure based on the huge amount of love and affection it has attributed to it these days, but back then it was not the Criterion Collection-worthy movie it has become. Ashby is amazing though and I love that he comes off one true cinematic classic and goes right into making another one. I daresay that few directors have had two quite so excellent and memorable films at all in their whole filmographies, let alone on a back to back basis. On top of that, Ashby followed THE LAST DETAIL with SHAMPOO which is another amazing movie and he proceeded to make BOUND FOR GLORY (see below), COMING HOME and BEING THERE all in the same decade. The 1970s was truly a glorious time for cinema and Hal Ashby is one of the reasons why.

This REGION FREE Indicator Blu-ray 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

By the Blu-ray here:

1 comment:

S.M. said...

Twilight Time released The Last Detail over a year ago on blu-ray. But unfortunately there are no extras on their edition