THE SCREEN:

Westerbeck, Colin L. Jr.

NAVY BLUES THE SCREEN Baggs (James Caan) and Buddusky (Jack Nkholson) have a lot in common. Neither one is a bigot, for instance, despite a limited social and educational background. When a...

...Accordingly, while Baggs' first step in the education of Doug is to take a can of beer away from him, Buddusky's first step is to buy Meadows a can of beer, and then another, and so on until he's drunk...
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...If I had a couple of spare hours, I'd rather spend them with him...
...Where Doug needs to be reformed, A provocative, deeply human novel about a good man's struggles within-and often against -his Church THE As seminarian, priest, and bishop of the Church, Peter Faber must not only come to terms with the world and the flesh in his own life, but he must deal with every conceivable type of individual and situation...
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...While Baggs is trying to overcome the effects of prostitution on Doug's life, Buddusky is trying to introduce them into Meadows...
...When he made The Cowboys a few years ago, he turned a script tailor-made for John Wayne and a cast of wholesome boys into a surprisingly unsentimental Western...
...His petty kleptomania notwithstanding, Meadows is too innocent and straight for his own good...
...The offense is so petty and the sentence so harsh that Buddusky takes pity on Meadows, who is a hopeless Sad Sack...
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...In essence both films are stories of the way an older man takes a boy in tow and educates him...
...Bishop Faber, who remains a loyal son of the Church, proves that even in the framework of moral decay and spiritual cynicism, it is still possible for an honest man to progress without abandoning his ideals...
...He's a tough, streeet-wise kid who needs straightening out from his teeth to his personality, and Baggs, a self-described "basement Baptist" (his father was a church janitor), is just the the man to pull this duty...
...In order to take care of Doug's most pressing physical needs, Baggs takes him to an illicit dentist...
...He's the sort who can turn a liberty into a detail, which is exactly what he does when he becomes attached to Maggie and Doug...
...Engrossing and thoughtprovoking reading...
...v t' .t I it,., .. .. . rn...
...Baggs' charge, Doug, pulls a knife on Baggs the first time they meet...
...Like the black bastard son of a whore in Cinderella Liberty, Meadows never really had a chance, so like Baggs, Buddusky takes it on himself to show the kid a good time and teach him a thing or two...
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...He reforms not only the kid, but his "champagne-cocktailsipping whore" of a mother as well...
...Whereas Baggs can't even get his due from the paymaster, Buddusky shows us, using the per diem from a prisoner escort duty as he does, to go on a spree, that he always gets more than his due...
...Though both men are hustlers-the one at pool, the other at darts-only Buddusky is really a natural at it...
...Buddusky's is obviously the more appetizing of the two details, and perhaps that's why The Last Detail comes off as the better of the two films...
...COLIN L. WESTERBECK, JR...
...makes a racial slur against Buddusky's black traveling companion, Mulhall (Otis Young), Buddusky is so incensed he pulls a .45 on the guy...
...Just as Baggs takes responsibility for Doug, so Buddusky does for a kid named Meadows (Randy Quaid...
...What ultimately affects the atmosphere of these two movies more than their similarities, however, is their differences...
...but Buddusky is still more laughs...
...Actually, Buddusky has no choice at first, for he and Mulhall are put on Shore Patrol and ordered to escort Meadows to the Portsmouth Naval Prison to begin an eight-year sentence for swiping forty dollars...
...He encounters homosexuality among priests, sexual problems of nuns and monks, such explosive issues as divorce, contraception, and abortion, myriad scandals, religious and racial bigotry, fraud, greed, and violence...
...and both are in transit, attached to a land base while waiting to be shipped out again, during the period we see them...
...In order to take care of Meadows' needs, Buddusky takes him to an illicit woman...
...This is a deft piece of direction, I suppose...
...But Buddusky, being the opposite sort, can turn the most odious detail into a liberty, which is what he does while taking Meadows to Portsmouth Prison...
...When a bartender in Washington, D.C...
...They are such mirror images of each other that it ought to be hard to choose between them...
...20005 Commonweal: 167...
...It seems to be his bias to try to play his scripts against their own grain...
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...At the same time he meets love, compassion, sacrifice, and commitment...
...But Nicholson's portrayal of Buddusky is clearly the one that is the genuine article, an original compared to which Caan's Baggs is a pale reflection...
...Maybe Baggs' troubles should be blamed in part at least on Cinderella Liberty's director, Mark Rydell...
...The novel on which each film is based was written by the same man, Darryl Ponicson...
...PEPPER PIKE, OHIO or call (216) 449-4200 for further information 19 April 1974: 166 Meadows needs to be corrupted...
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...This time, dealing with a script in which even the presence of a boy ought not to soften anyone's heart, he milks all the human kindness he possibly can out of the action, and provides a happy ending to boot...
...The problem Buddusky has with his protege is not incorrigibility...
...Although these two sailors happen to be in different movies-Baggs in Cinderella Liberty and Buddusky in The Last Detail-the similarity between them is hardly a coincidence since they also have one other thing in common...
...Baggs is the sort of guy who could as easily end up a victim of the system himself, as when the Navy loses his papers and he has to go on Navy relief because a sailor without papers can't draw pay...
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...And Baggs virtually adopts Doug (Kirk Calloway), the black, twelve-year-old son of a white hooker named Maggie (Marsha Mason) whom Baggs gets involved with in Seattle...
...He also chews tobacco, talks dirty, does as he pleases and takes no crap off of nobody...
...Baggs and Buddusky are both in the Navy too, both "lifers" by nature (though one of them gets time off for good behavior, so to speak...

Vol. 100 • April 1974 • No. 7


 
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