|The great Robert Duvall|
|Fentry (Duvall) and Sarah (Bellin)|
|Fentry and Jackson Longstreet|
|Bull Meechum (Duvall) and his children|
as they face life in a new town.
|Ben and Lillian (Danner)|
before the family game
Lillian: "Your father is very nervous about this game. Look at me, young lady! Look at me! You've got to interpret the signals he gives off!"
Mary Anne: "No problem! He always gives off the signals of a psychopathic killer, so it really doesn't matter how you interpret them!"
In an attempt to get attention from her father, Mary Anne displays not only her sharp humor, but also an intelligent and desperate need for his approval. It is a telling scene, but not without humor. Part of the conversation gives you an idea:
Mary Anne: "Hey Dad, why do you love me more than your other children?"
Bull: "Beat it, I'm reading the sports page."
Mary Anne: "Let's have a conversation Dad. Let's bare our souls and get to know one another."
Bull: "I don't want you to get to know me. I like being an enigma, like a Chink. Now scram."
Mary Anne: "Am I a Meechum Dad? Can girls be real Meechums; girls without jump shots? Or am I a simple form of Meechum, like in biology. Mary Anne, the one-celled Meechum."
Conroy's father Donald called himself the Great Santini after a magician he once saw. Conroy wrote a completely unsanitized version of his father's abuse and skewed love, and yet the book and the movie brought the family back together again from a long period of estrangement. Donald Conroy, with all of his problems, loved his children, and swallowed his lifelong pride to see that he needed to heal his family. On his tombstone, Donald Conroy asked for the epitaph "The Great Santini". This backstory has as much heartache and triumph as the movie. Duvall never gave a better performance, and this is one role in which I cannot imagine any other actor.
Robert Duvall, one man, two completely different roles -- a great double feature of a great actor.
(Quotes from IMDB)