The Last Detail directed by Hal Ashby earned Jack Nicholson his first award: the Best Actor Award at the 1974 Festival de Cannes. In it, he plays the role of a badass naval officer sporting tattoos and a moustache.
The Last Detail is a relatively unsung classic directed by Hal Ashby starring a Jack Nicholson who was already famous at the time, but had not yet attained stardom. Nicholson’s career first took off following his appearance in the cult film, Easy Rider (1969). It then received a major boost when he starred in the equally cult Chinatown (1974), followed by The Passenger and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the following year, the latter of which earned him his first Oscar.
During this highly prolific period in his film career, Nicholson managed to squeeze in shooting The Last Detail. In it, he plays the role of a badass naval officer who is charged, along with a colleague just like him (Otis Young), with the task of escorting a young seaman suffering from kleptomania from the naval base in Norfolk to a prison in Portsmouth, where the latter is to serve out an eight year sentence. The two officers make friends with the 18 year old kid in their charge and decide to show him one last good time en route to jail: This includes going ice skating at Radio City and stopping by the brothels of Greenwich Village.
The Last Detail was directed by Hal Ashby, who has been somewhat overshadowed by other great names of 70s American cinema, despite bringing out a series of excellent films – The Landlord, Harold and Maude, Bound for Glory, Coming Home and Being There – which marked the history of cinema and influenced a good number of filmmakers including Judd Apatow, Alexander Payne and Wes Anderson.
To mark the fortieth anniversary of the film’s release, Sony Pictures have breathed new life into the film, carrying out a spectacular 4K digital restoration. Thanks to the involvement of Park Circus Films, the restored film will be released in cinemas in November.
Béatrice de Mondenard
"With his body of work Hal Ashby handily reserved his place among the world’s greatest filmmakers long ago. The Last Detail is a masterpiece, possessing a quiet powerfulness, permeating compassion and at all times punctuated with Hal’s oblique eye for humor.
With a maverick’s bravado he convinced the studios to support his vision. When the studio wanted Burt Reynolds and David Cassidy, Hal insisted on Jack and an unknown gangly kid from Texas, me. Hal despised timidity and challenged authority and it was within this arena that Hal achieved his greatest works. I am honored to have played a role in three of his films. He deeply understood and appreciated my contribution and encouraged collaboration, always with the one caveat that it be truthful. I will forever cherish his memory. Both he and his artistry are profoundly missed in these generic corporate times."
Tuesday 22nd May / Buñuel Theatre / 5:30pm
>> View the interactive calendar