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JACK NICHOLSON & OTIS YOUNG TAKING ON 'THE LAST DETAIL'

Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL Year: 1973 Rating: *****

What makes THE LAST DETAIL as much comedy as drama is the brilliant use of quick editing, like whenever Navy lifer Jack Nicholson gets too drunk and boisterous, turning a would-be fight into just another time-filling tantrum... 

Cutting to the next scene before what seems important rolls into the overall road trip journey from New York to Boston on buses and trains, throughout in the snowy East Coast in what's Jack Nicholson's greatest performance...

Jack Nicholson's Bad Ass starting a fight in THE LAST DETAIL

And it was before he had very much to compare it with, following EASY RIDER and FIVE EASY PIECES, energetically combining wily charm and combative mood-swings... 

This guy's been everywhere and seen everything, curbed perfectly by handsome black actor Otis Young as Mullhall nicknamed Mule, the mellow, dependable wing man to Jack's self-described Bad Ass Budduski...

Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL

Both taking young Navy petty thief Randy Quaid to a Marine prison, which is the plot here, repeated numerous times only to be deliberately and constantly curtailed as his two "guards" attempt showing the poor kid the time of his life while they get to spend the week celebrating being away from the barracks...

Years later Randy Quaid was typecast as crazy and buffoonish (the 1980's Bruce Dern) but following his breakout as the naive town doofus in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW...

Director HAL ASHBY watching Jack Nicholson shoot darts in THE LAST DETAIL

This role he's less pathetic but likewise quiet and humble, sweet-natured, simple-minded manner that provides just enough sympathy to feel bad for yet overriding the mainstream cliche of a young nobody becoming somebody... 

This gritty swearing-up-a-storm indie's presented with on-the-street realism in Hal Ashby's both tightest and loosest film with a script by Nicholson's following-year's CHINATOWN scribe Robert Towne... 

Hippie party girl Kathleen Miller and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL

A Road Movie with stop-offs with shades of the bleak American landscape, the inevitable hippie counter-culture rears up yet without taking over, like so many indies from this parenthetical early-70's that's yet to shed the 60's completely...

But the hippies don't have a chance, especially with the wall-to-wall military score, further adding to its light comedy side: a bursting, overly patriotic irony of sound so the audience is constantly reminded who and WHAT it's about... 

Otis Young and Randy Quaid with Jack Nicholson in THE LAST DETAIL

Despite the eclectic trio literally being passengers, DETAIL epitomizes character-driven, especially Jack's tour de force role while providing Otis Young the toughest kind of sidekick...

Reminding his partner about their schedule and not wanting to be tossed out of the Navy, he's driven to perturbed party pooper mode, bulwark of Nicholson's spontaneity: (you can almost hear him saying "I'm too old for this"...

A yodeling Jack Nicholson and Nancy Allen in THE LAST DETAIL

An impossibility either way with Jack's resilient/streetwise Bad Ass is always straight ahead, wandering from bars to diners to a public restroom fight to a motel room drinking binge to a stoned girl-friendly party to the inevitable de-virginizing whorehouse featuring a cute Goth-like Carol Kane...

Leading to Quaid's frantic (inevitable) escape attempt, but being dialogue-driven over action, the true climax has lecturing marine Michael Moriarity taking over as if no one else existed, providing an edgy in-your-face lecture in the rarest of movie miracles since THE LAST DETAIL, from beginning to end... hardly seems like a movie at all.

Jack Nicholson and Otis Young with Michael Moriarty in THE LAST DETAIL

Otis Young and Jack Nicholson in THE LAST DETAIL
Otis Young and Jack Nicholson in THE LAST DETAIL
Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL
Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid in THE LAST DETAIL with Don McGovern
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid
Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Nancy Allen in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid
Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid in THE LAST DETAIL choosing...
Hollywood's first 70's Gothic Girl CAROL KANE in THE LAST DETAIL
Carol Kane and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Patricia Hamilton
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid and Gilda Radner
Jack Nicholson and Otis Young in THE LAST DETAIL with Randy Quaid and Gilda Radner
Another Buddhist church cameo with Derek McGrath in THE LAST DETAIL
Easy Rider's Luana Anders and Randy Quaid in THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson and Nancy Allen in THE LAST DETAIL
Michael Moriarty in THE LAST DETAIL
Randy Quaid in THE LAST DETAIL

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