Great Santini


1h 55m 1979
Great Santini

Brief Synopsis

A marine has problems adjusting to domestic life during peacetime.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ace, The
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Orion Pictures
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
Beaufort, South Carolina, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Synopsis

Fighter pilot, Bull Meechum loves fighting almost as much as he loves the Marine Corps. But he has little tolerance for his wife and children. Instead, he treats them like recruits, until finally tension in the household builds to the boiling point.

Cast

Robert Duvall

Bull Meechum

Blythe Danner

Lillian Meechum

Michael O'keefe

Ben Meechum

Lisa Jane Persky

Mary Anne Meechum

Stan Shaw

Toomer Smalls

Julie Anne Haddock

Karen Meechum

Brian Andrews

Matthew Meechum

Theresa Merritt

Arrabelle Smalls

David Keith

Red Pettus

Paul Mantee

Colonel Hedgepath

Michael Strong

Colonel Varney

Bennett Liss

Corporal Athley

Joe Dorsey

Coach Spinks

David Frankham

Captain Weber

Jan Stratton

Mrs Weber

Paul Gleason

Lieutenant Sammy

W. K. Stratton

Ace

Lew Horn

Captain Brookout

Michael Rougas

Colonel Mulllinax

Al Garcia

Pedro

Stacy Macgregor

Leroy

Harold B Bibey

Hedgepath'S Sergeant

Gordon Gene Jones

Bartender

Harry Pickens Porth

Squadron Executive Officer

Albert Smith

Hobie Simms

Walter Gay

Shrimp Dock Man

Wendall Gregory

Shrimp Header

Bill Nelson

1st Cousin

Bill Eudaly

2nd Cousin

Wayne Sharpnack

Mac

Morris Phifer

Sergeant--Air Controller

Brad Baldwin

Radar Sergeant

Ronnie Cross

Honor Guard Sergeant

Timothy Norton

Jim Don

Richard Horswell

Art

Ronald Garret

Pinkie

Hank Chappell

Mumford

Reggie Malphrus

Abbot

Doyle Kelley

1st Referee

Larry Burke

2nd Referee

K C Stiglbauer

Basketball Player

Randy Cauthen

Basketball Player

Tom Conroy

Basketball Player

Lance Snyder

Basketball Player

Tony Langdale

Basketball Player

Gary Towles

Basketball Player

Ray Nix

Basketball Player

Chip Upchurch

Basketball Player

David Simmons

Basketball Player

Nicole Von Der Heyde

Cheerleader

Nancy Black

Cheerleader

Lisa Collins

Cheerleader

Kim Duncan

Cheerleader

Claudette Evans

Cheerleader

Carol Monson

Cheerleader

Tara Hudson

Cheerleader

Sandra Patterson

Cheerleader

Holly Malphrus

Cheerleader

Sarah Sanford

Cheerleader

Denise Walker

Cheerleader

Edwina Dawn Tucker

Cheerleader

Crew

Lee Alexander

Sound Recording Mixer

Lon Bentley

Makeup (New York)

Elmer Bernstein

Music

Art Brooker

Key Grip

Lewis John Carlino

Screenwriter

Jill D Chadwick

Production Assistant

Andy Cianella

Makeup

Pat Conroy

Source Material (From Novel)

P C G Coulter

Technical Advisor (Military)

Lynn Del Kail

Hairstyles

Alan Disler

1st Assistant Camera (New York)

Bennie Dobbins

Stunt Coordinator

David Dockendorf

Sound Rerecording Mixer

Teri E. Dorman

Sound Editor

Jo Doster

Casting

Hunt Downs

Publicist

Michael Dunn

Property Master

Sally J Fitzhenry

Post-Production Supervisor

George Folsey

Editor Consultant

Jack Haley

Set Decorator

Fred Hesper

Consultant (Bees)

Michael Hoffman

Costumes

Cindy James

Animal Trainer (Dog)

Floyd Joyer

Unit Production Manager

James J Klinger

Sound Editor Supervisor

Richard Kratina

Camera Operator 2nd Unit (2nd Unit) (New York)

Clay Lacy

Other

Irving Lande

Casting

Henry Mancini

Song ("Moon River")

Edward D Markley

Assistant Director

Betsy Norton

Script Supervisor

David Nowell

Aerial Photography

Kenneth Pepiot

Special Effects

John Pommer

Executive Producer

Jack Poplin

Production Designer

Charles A Pratt

Producer

Tobi C Singleton

Production Coordinator

David Srohmaier

Assistant Editor

William Steiner

Camera Operator (New York)

Houseley Stevenson

Editor

Don Sullivan

Set Decorator

Donald J. Sullivan

Set Decorator

Ken Swor

Unit Production Manager

Ken Swor

Assistant Director

Ralph Woolsey

Director Of Photography

Chris Zamiara

Costumer

Jonathan Zimmerman

Assistant Director

Videos

Movie Clip

Great Santini, The (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Welcome Home, Colonel Introducing the family of the title character (Robert Duvall as the Marine pilot “Bull” Meechum), Blythe Danner as mom Lillian, Michael O’Keefe as Ben (representing Pat Conroy from his autobiographical novel), with Lisa Jane Persky, Brian Andrews and Jullie Anne Haddock, early in The Great Santini, 1979.
Great Santini, The (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Would You Like To Be Killed In Action? En route to his new post at Beaufort, South Carolina, 1962, Robert Duvall as Marine Col. “Bull” Meechum (title character), Michael O’Keefe his son Ben, the substantially autobiographical character from the Pat Conroy novel, Blythe Danner as wife Lillian, in The Great Santini, 1979.
Great Santini, The (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Squirt A Few Probably the best-known scene, Robert Duvall as the title character, Marine pilot “Bull” Meechum, Michael O’Keefe as his son, based on the author Pat Conroy from his novel, Blythe Danner as mother Lillian, the family watching a one-on-one challenge, South Carolina ca. 1962, in The Great Santini, 1979.
Great Santini, The (1979) -- (Movie Clip) You're Probably Wondering Why I Attacked You Reporting to his new post in South Carolina, 1962, belligerent Marine pilot Col. Meechum (Robert Duvall) attacks unsuspecting Atchley (Bennett Liss), thinking he was surprising his old buddy, fellow officer Hedgepath (Paul Mantee), in The Great Santini, 1979, from the Pat Conroy novel.
Great Santini, The (1979) -- (Movie Clip) Over Spain, 1962 Opening with the biggest aerial scene in the picture, Robert Duvall as the self-nicknamed title character, Marine pilot Col. “Bull” Meechum, in exercises against Navy pilots in Spain, Lewis John Carlino directing, from his script from the Pat Conroy novel, in The Great Santini, 1979.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Ace, The
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Orion Pictures
Distribution Company
Columbia-Emi-Warner; Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Location
Beaufort, South Carolina, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1979
Robert Duvall

Best Supporting Actor

1979
Michael O'Keefe

Articles

The Great Santini


Southern writer Pat Conroy's novels have long been worthy material for films: Conrack (1974, from The Water Is Wide), The Lords of Discipline (1983), and the Oscar-nominated The Prince of Tides (1991). There was also a 2006 television adaptation of The Water Is Wide that hewed a little more closely to the novel's autobiographical details. The best translation from page to screen, however, is The Great Santini (1979), itself based so closely on the author's young life and family that his father, the model for the lead character, told his son, upon hearing of the Academy Award nominations for Robert Duvall as Best Actor and Michael O'Keefe as Best Supporting Actor, "You and me got nominated for Academy Awards, your mother didn't get squat."

Conroy's story follows the barely fictional Meechum family (spelled "Meecham" in the book): father Lt. Col. "Bull" Meechum, an abusive, autocratic Air Force pilot self-nicknamed The Great Santini; his long-suffering wife Lillian; his eldest son Ben, the character based on Conroy and the brunt of most of his father's militaristic badgering; and three younger children. As the Meechums try to settle into their new home in South Carolina in the years just before the Vietnam War, family and racial tensions explode, forcing Ben to come to terms with his father.

Conroy said his father hated the book but loved the fact that Duvall played him in the movie. "He took full credit for Duvall's career," Conroy said recently. The actor, in fact, had done pretty well for nearly 20 years prior to this picture, first in acclaimed television dramas, followed by his film debut as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), much more TV work, and his high-profile roles in the first two Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now (1979), earning two Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe Award along the way. Nevertheless, Warner Bros. executives didn't consider Duvall--and certainly none of his co-stars--to be bankable enough to sell a picture with, in their view, an equally unmarketable plot. It was premiered in Beaufort, S.C., where it was filmed, and opened to nearly empty houses in the Carolinas. The studio thought the problem was that the title made it sound like a circus movie, so they tested it as "Sons and Heroes" in Indiana, "Reaching Out" in Rockford, Illinois, and "The Ace" in Peoria, where it fared well enough to keep that title but not enough to keep it from being pulled from theatrical distribution and its airline and cable rights sold to recoup the losses.

Producer Charles Pratt was not giving up so easily. He raised enough money to have it released under the original title in New York, where it did steady business and got excellent reviews. The picture's box office fate was sealed, however, by the cable deal with HBO, where it was aired two weeks later. Audiences stopped coming after that.

Nevertheless, the film's reputation didn't suffer, and it's still admired to the present day. Critic Roger Ebert summed up its appeal in his review: "Like almost all my favorite films, The Great Santini is about people more than it's about a story. It's a study of several characters, most unforgettably the Great Santini himself, played by Robert Duvall. ... There are moments so unpredictable and yet so natural they feel just like the spontaneity of life itself."

The script was adapted from Conroy's book by its director, Lewis John Carlino, with an uncredited assist from Herman Raucher (Summer of '42, 1971). The minute change in the family name notwithstanding, most of the details of the novel stayed intact, except for the loss of a key character, Ben's Jewish friend Sammy.

The Meechum house in the film is the same one later used in The Big Chill (1983). The family who lived in the historic structure at the time were under contract to remain in the home throughout the three-month shoot in order to protect the production company from liability for pre-existing damages in the nearly 130-year-old building. When principal photography wrapped, the company paid to have the house repainted and the floors refinished.

Blythe Danner, the actor passed over by the Academy for her performance as mother Lillian Meechum, got another chance at a Conroy adaptation playing Nick Nolte's wife in The Prince of Tides (1991). Michael O'Keefe, who played the character the author based on himself, went directly from this picture to Caddyshack (1980) and has had a busy career ever since.

In 2013, Conroy made an offer to the film's three principals and Lisa Jane Persky, who played the family's eldest daughter. He said he would grant free film rights to his non-fiction family memoir The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son if they would agree to appear. As of this writing, no progress has been made on this proposal.

Director: Lewis John Carlino
Producer: Charles A. Pratt
Screenplay: Lewis John Carlino, Herman Raucher (uncredited), based on the book by Pat Conroy
Cinematography: Ralph Woolsey
Editing: Houseley Stevenson
Production Design: Jack Poplin
Original Music: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Robert Duvall (Bull Meechum), Michael O'Keefe (Ben Meechum), Blythe Danner (Lillian Meechum), Lisa Jane Persky (Mary Anne Meechum), David Keith (Red Petus)

By Rob Nixon
The Great Santini

The Great Santini

Southern writer Pat Conroy's novels have long been worthy material for films: Conrack (1974, from The Water Is Wide), The Lords of Discipline (1983), and the Oscar-nominated The Prince of Tides (1991). There was also a 2006 television adaptation of The Water Is Wide that hewed a little more closely to the novel's autobiographical details. The best translation from page to screen, however, is The Great Santini (1979), itself based so closely on the author's young life and family that his father, the model for the lead character, told his son, upon hearing of the Academy Award nominations for Robert Duvall as Best Actor and Michael O'Keefe as Best Supporting Actor, "You and me got nominated for Academy Awards, your mother didn't get squat." Conroy's story follows the barely fictional Meechum family (spelled "Meecham" in the book): father Lt. Col. "Bull" Meechum, an abusive, autocratic Air Force pilot self-nicknamed The Great Santini; his long-suffering wife Lillian; his eldest son Ben, the character based on Conroy and the brunt of most of his father's militaristic badgering; and three younger children. As the Meechums try to settle into their new home in South Carolina in the years just before the Vietnam War, family and racial tensions explode, forcing Ben to come to terms with his father. Conroy said his father hated the book but loved the fact that Duvall played him in the movie. "He took full credit for Duvall's career," Conroy said recently. The actor, in fact, had done pretty well for nearly 20 years prior to this picture, first in acclaimed television dramas, followed by his film debut as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), much more TV work, and his high-profile roles in the first two Godfather movies and Apocalypse Now (1979), earning two Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe Award along the way. Nevertheless, Warner Bros. executives didn't consider Duvall--and certainly none of his co-stars--to be bankable enough to sell a picture with, in their view, an equally unmarketable plot. It was premiered in Beaufort, S.C., where it was filmed, and opened to nearly empty houses in the Carolinas. The studio thought the problem was that the title made it sound like a circus movie, so they tested it as "Sons and Heroes" in Indiana, "Reaching Out" in Rockford, Illinois, and "The Ace" in Peoria, where it fared well enough to keep that title but not enough to keep it from being pulled from theatrical distribution and its airline and cable rights sold to recoup the losses. Producer Charles Pratt was not giving up so easily. He raised enough money to have it released under the original title in New York, where it did steady business and got excellent reviews. The picture's box office fate was sealed, however, by the cable deal with HBO, where it was aired two weeks later. Audiences stopped coming after that. Nevertheless, the film's reputation didn't suffer, and it's still admired to the present day. Critic Roger Ebert summed up its appeal in his review: "Like almost all my favorite films, The Great Santini is about people more than it's about a story. It's a study of several characters, most unforgettably the Great Santini himself, played by Robert Duvall. ... There are moments so unpredictable and yet so natural they feel just like the spontaneity of life itself." The script was adapted from Conroy's book by its director, Lewis John Carlino, with an uncredited assist from Herman Raucher (Summer of '42, 1971). The minute change in the family name notwithstanding, most of the details of the novel stayed intact, except for the loss of a key character, Ben's Jewish friend Sammy. The Meechum house in the film is the same one later used in The Big Chill (1983). The family who lived in the historic structure at the time were under contract to remain in the home throughout the three-month shoot in order to protect the production company from liability for pre-existing damages in the nearly 130-year-old building. When principal photography wrapped, the company paid to have the house repainted and the floors refinished. Blythe Danner, the actor passed over by the Academy for her performance as mother Lillian Meechum, got another chance at a Conroy adaptation playing Nick Nolte's wife in The Prince of Tides (1991). Michael O'Keefe, who played the character the author based on himself, went directly from this picture to Caddyshack (1980) and has had a busy career ever since. In 2013, Conroy made an offer to the film's three principals and Lisa Jane Persky, who played the family's eldest daughter. He said he would grant free film rights to his non-fiction family memoir The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son if they would agree to appear. As of this writing, no progress has been made on this proposal. Director: Lewis John Carlino Producer: Charles A. Pratt Screenplay: Lewis John Carlino, Herman Raucher (uncredited), based on the book by Pat Conroy Cinematography: Ralph Woolsey Editing: Houseley Stevenson Production Design: Jack Poplin Original Music: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Robert Duvall (Bull Meechum), Michael O'Keefe (Ben Meechum), Blythe Danner (Lillian Meechum), Lisa Jane Persky (Mary Anne Meechum), David Keith (Red Petus) By Rob Nixon

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States November 1979

Released in United States Fall October 26, 1979

Released in United States November 1979

Released in United States Fall October 26, 1979