The Last Detail, directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and Randy Quaid, received widespread acclaim after its 1973 release – including a BAFTA Best Actor win for Nicholson. The film adapted Darryl Ponicsan’s novel of the same name, which tells the story of two Navy signalmen who must escort a delinquent sailor from Virginia to New Hampshire for his imprisonment.
Nicholson, who played signalman Billy Buddusky, called it his “best role” in a 1996 interview. Now, over forty years since the original’s release, a film based on the sequel is in development. Acclaimed director Richard Linklater has made Last Flag Flying his latest project, and signed on some major stars to the cast.
Last Flag, published in 2005, brings together the same cast of characters as The Last Detail. According to THR, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne have been cast in the film. THR offered additional details about the plot of the movie:
Last Flag reunites the reader with the trio, now living a post-9/11 American life: The former Naval petty officers come to the aid of their former prisoner, who needs their help to bring home the body of his son who was killed in Iraq. The request sends them back retracing their journey from Norfolk, Va., to Portsmouth, N.H.
Though a Hollywood veteran, Linklater drew major attention for his Oscar-nominated smash Boyhood in 2014-2015. The Dazed and Confused director went on to helm this year’s Everybody Wants Some!!, which received critical acclaim but little public attention. Carell is best known for his TV portrayal of Michael Scott in The Office, though he has also acted in a number of roles, mostly comedic, on the big screen. Cranston completed his hugely successful run as the lead in Breaking Bad, and has continued to work harder than ever in recent projects like Godzilla and The Infiltrator. Fishburne starred in NBC’s Hannibal, though he was also in Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, and famously portrayed Morpheus in The Matrix. Amazon Studios will take on The Last Flag.
When Linklater expressed interest in filming the second novel back in 2006, he knew it would have to be a slightly different adaptation from The Last Detail, as Young had passed away in 2001. With this casting news, it seems Linklater has decided to scrap his idea of reuniting Nicholson and Quaid in favor of a fresh cast. In all likelihood, this cast will pull these roles off with aplomb, and their names will bring buzz to the project that Linklater was missing with Everybody wants Some!!
It’s clear that Cranston and Fishburne have the dramatic chops to do justice to this subject matter, but it’s unclear if Carell will introduce a screwball element or keep it serious. We’ve seen him stay solemn for roles in films like Little Miss Sunshine, Dan in Real Life, and Foxcatcher – and he’s been very capable of pulling it off. At the same time, if Carell occupies the film in a more comedic role, perhaps he can balance out the combined gravitas of Cranston and Fishburne. That’s not to say that Cranston and Fishburne can’t land a joke or two – Fishburne currently stars in Black-ish, and many of us still fondly remember Cranston’s antics on Malcolm in the Middle.
Last Flag Flying is still in early development, and a release date is yet to be set. Filming will possibly start this November.