Great Santini Essay

500 WordsApr 28, 20122 Pages
There are five other members of the Meechum family. His wife (Blythe Danner) is a sweet Southern girl who calls her kids "sugar" and understands her maverick husband with a love that is deep but unforgiving. His oldest son (Michael O'Keefe) is just turning eighteen and learning to stand up to a father who issues "direct orders," calls everyone "sports fan," and expects to be called "sir." There are two daughters and one more son, but the movie's main relationship is between the father and the oldest boy. Santini, you understand, is one hell of a guy. All he understands is competition. He's a royal pain in the ass to his Marine superiors, because he's always pulling damn fool stunts and making a spectacle out of himself. But he's a great pilot and he's said to be a good leader (even though his first briefing session for the men under him in South Carolina leaves them totally bewildered). Santini wants to win at everything, even backyard basketball with his son. But the son is learning to be his own man. And there's a subplot involving a friendship between O'Keefe and the intense actor Stan Shaw, who plays the son of the family's black maid. Marine kids grow up nowhere and everywhere, we learn, and in South Carolina these two kids go shrimping together, trade lore together, become friends. It's a nice relationship, although a little tangential to the main thrust of the movie. It's Robert Duvall who really makes the movie live_Duvall and Blythe Danner in a stunning performance that nothing she's done before (in 1776, Hearts of the West, etc.) prepares us for. Although The Great Santini is set about ten years before Apocalypse Now, Duvall is playing essentially the same character in both films_we remember his great scene in Apocalypse, shouting that napalm smells to him like victory, as he gives his gung-ho speeches in this movie. Duvall and O'Keefe go hard at each

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