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The Great Santini (1979)

PG | | Drama | 26 October 1979 (USA)
Trailer
2:41 | Trailer
As he approaches manhood, Ben Meechum struggles to win the approval of his demanding alpha male father, an aggressively competitive, but frustrated Marine pilot.

Director:

Lewis John Carlino

Writers:

Pat Conroy (novel), Lewis John Carlino (written for the screen by)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Duvall ... Bull Meechum
Blythe Danner ... Lillian Meechum
Michael O'Keefe ... Ben Meechum
Lisa Jane Persky ... Mary Anne Meechum
Julie Anne Haddock ... Karen Meechum
Brian Andrews ... Matthew Meechum
Stan Shaw ... Toomer Smalls
Theresa Merritt ... Arrabella Smalls
David Keith ... Red Pettus
Paul Mantee ... Col. Virgil Hedgepath
Michael Strong ... Col. Varney
Bennett Liss Bennett Liss ... Corp. Atcherly
Joe Dorsey ... Coach Spinks
David Frankham ... Capt. Weber
Jan Stratton Jan Stratton ... Mrs. Weber
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Storyline

In 1962, the Marine Corps family, the Meechums - parents Lieutenant Colonel Wilbur "Bull" Meechum and Lillian Meechum, and their four children Ben Meechum, Mary Anne Meechum, Karen Meechum and Matthew Meechum - are moving like they do most years, this time to Beaufort, South Carolina. Bull - nicknamed "the Great Santini" - is known as a great pilot, but has gotten into much trouble in the past for his sophomoric behavior. He runs his family much as a military commander, where they are all to obey his orders without question. Everything he does within the family context he reasons is to build character, but in reality everything ends up being about him. The oldest Ben, approaching manhood, is the one of his offspring who has the greatest issue with his father. Ben wants his respect, but isn't sure if he really loves him. As Ben goes through his senior year in high school, his attempts to play varsity basketball and an incident between black Toomer Smalls - his friend and their cook ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The bravest thing he would ever do was let his family love him.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 October 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Santini See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,527, 28 October 1979

Gross USA:

$4,702,575

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,702,575
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On the morning of the Academy Award nominations in 1981, when the movie got nods for Best Actor and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, author Pat Conroy received a phone call from his father, who told him, "You and me got nominated for Academy Awards, your mother didn't get squat." See more »

Goofs

During the last scene of Bull Meechum with his family on the porch prior to the Prom the youngest son is wearing a jacket covered in aviation patches. One of these patches is for the F-14 Tomcat which first flew in 1970 and wasn't operationally deployed until 1974. The film is set in 1962. See more »

Quotes

[At a high school dance]
Mary Anne Meechum: Can you believe dad bought me this dress? He can be so childishly sentimental sometimes. Isn't this ridiculous?
[Ben dips Mary Anne]
Ben Meechum: [joking] My darling, there's an enormous booger in your nose.
[Mary Anne and Ben start laughing out loud]
See more »

Connections

References Rome Adventure (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Moon River
(uncredited)
Music by Henry Mancini
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Duvall's Finest Performance, and an Awesome Character Study
16 April 2001 | by MadReviewerSee all my reviews

"The Great Santini" is a powerful, gut-wrenching film that manages to tell the tale of a powerful, abusive, often unlikeable hero named Bull Meecham (Duvall). . . and yet you care about what happens to Bull Meecham just the same. Meecham, a legendary pilot and naval hero, is at his best when faced with death -- but at his worst when faced with peacetime, and with his wife and children. Meecham is actually both sad and scary when left alone with his family; he's an abusive terror, almost trying to start a full-scale war in his own home just so he can feel, well, normal.

Duvall is nothing short of brilliant in this movie -- he was nominated for an Oscar, and, in my opinion, he should've won it hands down. Also amazing is Blythe Danner as Lillian, his put-upon wife. An amazing character study that isn't always fun -- in fact, sometimes it's downright harrowing -- but definitely a great story with some incredibly moving performances. A-


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