The Great Santini | Chicago Reader

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Overcalculated, thoroughly false humanist mush—one of those “real movies about real people” without a single authentic moment (1979). Lewis John Carlino, who wrote and directed, alternates barracks-room gags with wet explosions of sentiment, a crude, mechanical rhythm that hammers a response from the audience. Robert Duvall is a tyrannical, marginally psychotic marine pilot who terrorizes his family—and of course, in the great tradition of monstrous movie patriarchs (Life With Father, Cheaper by the Dozen), he is widely beloved for it. Carlino's direction, all close-ups and smeary backgrounds, highlights what comes cheap and easy in his usually excellent performers—Blythe Danner's damp, wide-eyed vulnerability, Duvall's swaggering bravado. With Michael O'Keefe and Stan Shaw.

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