The Last Detail is a salty, bawdy, hilarious and very touching story about two career sailors escorting to a naval prison a dumb boot sentenced for petty thievery. Jack Nicholson is outstanding at the head of a superb cast.
Robert Towne’s outstanding adaptation of Darryl Ponicsan’s novel has caught the flavor of noncombat military life. The dialog vulgarisms are simply part of the eternal environment of men in uniform.
Randy Quaid is cast as a teenage misfit. A bungled ripoff of some charity money has gotten him eight years in Portsmouth. Nicholson and Otis Young, awaiting new assignments at a receiving station, draw escort duty. With several days of transit time allowed, Nicholson decides to set a leisurely pace. The essence of the story is the exchange of compassion between the guards and prisoner, and the latter’s effect on his escorts.
1973: Nominations: Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Supp. Actor (Randy Quaid), Adapted Screenplay