The Last Detail fits very nicely into its early 1970s milieu: distinctly anti-authoritarian, the film is chock full of cursing, sexual language, rowdiness, and downright rudeness. Of course, Jack Nicholson’s devilish grin was the perfect vehicle to carry this sort of pointedly subversive material, because he was so likable doing it. From Easy Rider to Five Easy Pieces to The Last Detail to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson made the role of the (often hilarious) nonconformist his own. Reclusive director/editor Hal Ashby was also a perfect fit for the film and the time period. Fresh from the offbeat critical success of the serio-comic Harold and Maude, Ashby brought an “experimental” feel to the film, most obviously in the jump cut editing borrowed from the French New Wave. Screenwriter Robert Towne was nominated for an Academy Award (his second of three in a row, following Chinatown and preceding Shampoo). Towne’s f-word-strewn dialogue had Columbia shaking in their boots, and they refused to release the picture. It was only after Nicholson won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival that they gave it a run. But they never supported it much, and it died an unnecessary death at the box office. It has since come to be regarded as one of Nicholson’s best, if not best-known, performances.