March 2011 was a devastating month for Japan, for a 9.0 earthquake caused a massive tsunami. This tsunami cost massive destruction and significant radiation leak at a nuclear power plant. Although no U.S. military bases were affected by the carnage, The U.S State Department offered temporary evacuation for dependents of service members. My wife and children left for one month, and during that time I applied for transfer admission to The University Of Oklahoma and watched 21 movies that I had never seen before. Hud, White Heat, Notorious, Midnight Cowboy, All About Eve, and It Happened One Night were among the films that I watched. Most were quite good, but it was the seldom-discussed The Last Detail that most intrigued me.
The story of The Last Detail is quite simple: Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison but decide to show him one last good time along the way. The young offender (played well by a very young Randy Quaid) is accused of stealing from the wife of a commanding officer and is given a harsh eight year sentence to a Naval prison in New Hampshire. Jack Nicholson and the late Otis Young portray the two Non-Commissioned Officers that escort the young man to his fate. Along the way Nicholson and Young’s characters decide to treat the kid to alcohol, semi-fine dining, and an awkward but hilarious attempt to have him lose his virginity. Also the dynamic duo takes the young man on a mini-odyssey to reconcile with his family.
The story is Robert Towne’s second best script, after the near perfect Chinatown. Columbia Pictures is owned by Sony Pictures and this would be a great opportunity for Amy Pascal (Head of Sony’s Production and Marketing) to put a worthy remake on screen. The movie could use the touches of Aaron Sorkin and/or Steve Zaillian to keep the original tone with a modern twist. The story could use better exposition, and a bigger budget of about $40 million (for location and film, yes film not digital) would give this already profound story a face-lift. Bigger set pieces and more exotic locations would make the clever antics and search for inner-peace more interesting.
I would suggest Sam Mendes or Mike Nichols to direct the project with Daniel Craig, Terrence Howard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title roles. Craig would not be as eccentric as the great Nicholson but seeing his performance in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, his hard-edge would compliment a poised but funny Terrence Howard. Joseph Gordon Levitt is just on fire at the moment (Inception, Lincoln, Django Unchained, The Dark Knight Rises) so why not give him another role to knock out of the park?
Because of tighter customs, traditions, and rules in the modern Navy, Sony Pictures would need Naval consultants to make sure that some elements are not overly exaggerated. Well Cinematic Impact has two editors that are Sailors. Just saying.