O-M-G-ohonzon! Please tell me I am not the last person to see the movie The Last Detail, starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young and Randy Quaid – circa 1973?
I caught the tail end of it recently. It didn’t catch my attention until the closing credits. I have a movie credits fixation. Yup that’s me the last one to leave the theater reading who the Unit Production Manager and the 1st Assistant Director are. What did catch my attention was seeing the words Nichiren Shoshu Members scroll through the credits; one of the members was played by the late Gilda Radner – you know, Saturday Night Live’s Rosanne Rosanadana!
I had to find the movie and watch it! It’s a story about two sailors in charge of delivering a third sailor to an 8 year prison stint, but before they do they set out to take him out for the time of his young inexperienced life.
They embark on an adventure of firsts for the young sailor including his maiden voyage to a whore-house. Awkward. Eventually, they find themselves on the street and notice an unusual humming sound none of them had ever heard nor could identify.
The reverbing humming sound sounds a lot like a bunch of people repeating Indiana Daaawg – Indiana Daaawg – Indiana Daaawg…over and over again. As they all listen quietly trying to figure out what the sound is, one asks, “What the hell is an Indiana Dog?”
They decide to investigate and go inside, to be met with a pile of shoes outside of an apartment door displaying a hand written sign that reads Nichiren Shoshu. The sound, once Indiana Daawg, morphs into Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. They take off their shoes and go in for a while.
O-M-G-ohonzon! It is a classic creepy 1970’s Nichiren meeting, with a butsadan adorned with candles and greenery and the little baby bell plus a dozen or so cheerful chanters hyped to tell their experiences, followed by a robust trio of A-A-OH!
The rest of the movie is colored by the young sailor chanting everywhere they go – on the subway, at the ice skating rink, in a bar where a woman who hears him, introduces herself as a Nichiren Shoshu member and invites the three to a party.
The Last Detail is just one of those last little details you have to at least be able to say you saw if you have ever had any kind of affiliation with any kind of Nichiren Buddhism.
It’s like when people say, “You just had to be there”, and well you just have to see it. But in the meantime here are some snippets of the scripted dialogue while you wait for Netflix to send you your flick.
Randy Quaid: What are they saying?
Jack Nicholson: Hold it down. I think we’re in a church. (they take of their sailor caps)
Randy Quaid: What’s a Gohonzon?
Jack Nicholson: Shhh! I’ll tell ya about it later. (as if he knows – Ha!)
Nichiren Shoshu Members: (singing) There’s a sun shining in your heart – there’s a song waiting to be sung – there’s a dream longing to be free – in your life happiness you’ll see – bring it out – your shining light – you can change this world of trouble and strife…
Jack Nicholson: Why does all this make me feel so fucking bad?
Otis Young: Let’s see if it works. Then you can chant for something really big…
Jack Nicholson: Yeah, like how’s about the three of us getting laid, huh?
Randy Quaid: Well, should you chant for something like that?
Jack Nicholson: Why the fuck not?
Randy Quaid: Well it’s a religion.
If you thought the Nichiren scenes in the Tina Turner What’s Love Got To Do With It movie were too short – The Last Detail will be right up your alley. And if you feel warm and fuzzy watching them and not totally creeped out by them – then you my friend are still deeply embedded in the cult.
Indiana dog –Indiana dog- Indiana dog….