7.2/10
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42 user 27 critic

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

The original novel had a joke about two Bulls and a field of cows, which is where "Bull" got his nickname. This joke was repeated by Robert Duvall's character in Colors (1988). See more »

Goofs

In the night flying scene (which was actually a Day for Night shoot), when Bull lights the afterburners on his F-4, we barely see the afterburner flames inside the engine nozzles. At nighttime, the afterburner flames on an F-4 are visible to at least half the length of the aircraft behind the nozzles and up to over twice the length. See more »

Quotes

Mary Anne Meechum: He does remind me someone from the movies, but it's not Rhett Butler.
Karen Meechum: Who's that?
Mary Anne Meechum: Godzilla!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Teen Wolf (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Twist and Shout
(uncredited)
Written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Only a 7.2?! This is one of the best films of the 1970s!
11 April 2015 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I was very shocked when I saw that "The Great Santini" had an overall rating of only 7.2. Clearly, it's one of the best films of its day and it is possibly Robert Duvall's best performance.

Duvall plays 'Bull' Meechum--a career officer whose life is the service. He is a Marine pilot first and last. As for his long-suffering family, they clearly don't fit in with his life. Much of the time he's off being deployed somewhere--which is tough on the family. But when he's home--it's much worse!! He treats his family like they are soldiers, but they never signed up for this sort of thing.

This is a wonderful character study--very realistic, tough and memorable. Exceptionally well acted, directed and well worth seeing. While it's not always pleasant, it is always compelling.


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