Tag Archives: Beau Bridges

Lovin’ Molly (1974)

lovin molly

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two men one woman.

Molly (Blythe Danner) is a free-spirited woman living in a small Texas town during the 1920’s. Gid (Anthony Perkins) and Johnny (Beau Bridges) are best friends who also both like her. Molly likes them as well, but can’t seem to decide which of the two she loves better, so to solve things she gets married to Eddie (Conard Fowkes). This doesn’t go over well with the other two, but as time goes by she continues to see them and even has children from both of them, which causes a stir in her small community. Not only does she become the product of the local gossip, but virtually ostracized as well. However, Molly is undeterred about what everyone else thinks and sticks to her independent ways.

Based on the Larry McMurtry novel the film was directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet, but you would hardly know it. The production looks cheap and rushed and lacks atmosphere or period detail. The scenes are flatly shot with very little visual design or imagination. The whole thing comes off as something that did not get any major studio backing and was forced to look to private investors for funding, which unfortunately was just not enough.

Filming it on location in Bastrop, Texas which is also the setting of the story helps a little as the town has many historical buildings, which heightens to some extent the period atmosphere, but I would’ve liked to have seen more of it. The dry Texas landscape is also nicely captured and makes the viewer feel like they are living in the state themselves with each and every shot. The one thing though that really impressed me was how realistically the characters aged as the story, which spans 40 years, progresses. In most films the actors are forced to wear a ton of makeup, which gets overdone, but here very little of it was used and it looked far better.

Danner, who these days is best known as the mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, is excellent in a rare turn as a leading lady and even appears fully nude from the front and back. Perkins is solid in support and I enjoyed seeing Bridges with a bowl haircut. The star though that really steals it is Edward Binns as Perkins’ father whose caustic and to-the-point remarks are gems.

Fred Hellerman’s flavorful bluegrass score is pleasing, but the film itself fails to elicit much emotion. The only times that it does become mildly interesting is when the characters do a voice-over narration by reading off of passages lifted directly from its source material making me believe that this should never have been filmed in the first place and left simply in its novel format.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: April 14, 1974

Runtime: 1Hour 38Minutes

Rated R

Director: Sidney Lumet

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD (Region 2), Amazon Instant Video

The Christian Licorice Store (1971)

christian licorice store 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: He searches for answers.

Cane (Beau Bridges) is a successful tennis player who has a close bond with Jonathan (Gilbert Roland) his mentor/coach who at one time during the 30’s was a tennis star himself. Things seem to be going well for him both on and off the court. He even starts fitting in with the chic Hollywood crowd and invited to some of their swanky parties. He meets Cynthia (Maude Adams) a beautiful photographer and their relationship begins to sizzle. Then Jonathan dies suddenly in his sleep and the emptiness in Cane’s life and the people in it come to a head. He begins searching for meaning and finds nothing, which eventually drives him away from his girlfriend, career and life in general.

The film was directed by James Frawley who is the son of actor William Frawley best known for his portrayal of Fred Mertz on the old ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes. James himself dabbled in acting a bit before turning to directing, but proves here to be completely in over-his-head. The attempt to replicate the French new wave type of filmmaking that had become so trendy at that time and done quite well by accomplished directors like Jean Luc Goddard and Michelangelo Antonioni is a disastrous dud and all the more reason why the artsy stuff should stay with the Europeans who have a better handle on it. From the very first shot forward this thing limps along with no pace, story or momentum. The cinema verite-styled takes go on for too long without enough visual flair to help carry it. The perceived ‘sophistication’ is nothing but an empty façade and an embarrassment to watch making it no wonder that the studio shelved this thing for 2 years before finally letting it out to a limited release.

Bridges does well, but the material offers him little to work with. Adams is surprisingly strong and this may be one of her best performances in an otherwise overlooked career. Silent film star Roland is solid as well particularly with the discussion he has with the two leads about aging and the quick passage of time, but he exits the story too quickly. Legendary French director Jean Renoir is the ultimate scene stealer even though he is only in it for less than five minutes, but clearly shows in that brief period how to own the screen and make the most of it in an almost effortless fashion.

The only thing that I liked about this sleep inducing 90-minute bore and actually even found original is the party scene where Beau meets up with several famous directors of the day including Monte Hellman and Theodore J. Flicker. The camera pans between several different side conversations of the various groups of people there and then everyone goes into a small theater to screen a new film where they then watch the opening credits to this film that they are all in, which I found to be kind of cool.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: November 15, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: James Frawley

Studio: National General Pictures

Available: None at this time.

The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)

the hotel new hampshire

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: A family of misfits.

Note: This review is part of the 1984 blog-a-thon series over at Forgotten Films.

Win Berry (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his teaching job and feels he is not making enough money so he decides to start a hotel and make it a family venture. Tagging along with him is his mouthy daughter Frannie (Jodie Foster) who has an unhealthy lust for her brother John (Rob Lowe) and he in her as well as Frank (Paul McCrane) who is gay and Lily (Jennifer Dundas) who has stopped growing and unhappy with her short height. After many misadventures the business goes under so they move to Vienna, Austria and open up a new hotel and continue to get into a wide range of weird scenarios while also coming into contact with Susie (Nastassja Kinski) who likes to disguise herself as a bear and the blind, but quite wily Freud (Wallace Shawn).

The film, based on the John Irving novel who also co-wrote the screenplay, is something you are either going to like or hate. The narrative structure is quite odd and filled with goofy side-stories that have no connection to anything else. It’s similar to director Tony Richardson’s The Loved One, but that film at least had excellent satire that tied it all together while this thing gets nonsensical for no real reason. Mixing quirky humor with trenchant drama doesn’t work and certain plot twists like death of family members, sudden blindness and even gang rape become like throwaway pieces that are just glossed over and then soon forgotten. The superficial tone is annoying and the ‘lovably eccentric’ characters eventually become irritating.

Foster is outstanding as she plays the bratty, foul-mouthed, rebellious teen to an absolute tee. The lesbian scene where she goes to bed with Kinski and kisses her on the mouth is on an erotic level not bad. Kinski also shines with a similarly bitchy attitude, but I got real sick of constantly seeing her in that hideous bear outfit.  Dundas as the youngest female member has an adorable face, but delivers her lines in too much of a one-note way.

Lowe is surprisingly strong and his best moment comes with the facial expressions he gives at trying to lift a barbell that is too heavy. I also liked Mathew Modine being cast against type. Typically he plays the kind and gentle types, but here he’s a real nasty, callous guy who rapes Foster and then later shows up in the Vienna scenes in a dual role as an underground pornographer with a Hitler-like mustache.

Bridges is good, but his boyish face makes him look too young to be the father of the grown children. Wilford Brimley is also miscast as the grandfather as he was only seven years older than Bridges and had no gray hair, at least not on his head.

The scene where the Foster character has wild sex with her brother may be too much for some, but most likely those same viewers will have gotten turned off by it long before it even gets there. I admit it was getting on my nerves most of the way as well, but then strangely it ended up having a certain appeal, but only enough to give it a passable rating. Richardson’s direction is for the most part slick and the one things that saves it although with this thing personal taste will be one’s own barometer.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: March 9, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 49Minutes

Rated R

Director: Tony Richardson

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

your three minutes are up 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Road trip goes bad.

Charlie (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his life. He is stuck in a dull job and engaged to Betty (Janet Margolin) who is constantly nagging him. He longs for a more carefree existence that is friend Mike (Ron Liebman) enjoys. Mike does not work a job and spends most of his time trying to cheat what he feels is a cold and impersonal system, but also has to deal with constant calls from bill collectors and the stress of trying to make ends meet with very little money. The two decide on a whim to take a little road trip, but during the course of their journey things begin to unravel as both men realize there are limits to everything and once you cross it you must pay the consequences.

The film like the characters spans the entire critical spectrum. The script, which was written by James Dixon who appears as the character Howard is incisive and taps into something every individual on the planet must deal with, which is learning how to balance individuals desires with societal demands. Other films have lightly touched on it, but few delve into it quite this deeply. I especially enjoyed the Charlie character who starts out as an obedient schmuck that gets ordered around by everyone, but also harbors a pent up anger that comes out slowly until it finally erupts into volcanic proportions that shocks even him.

Unfortunately the direction by Douglas Schwartz is dull and unimaginative. The budget was clearly low, which gives the movie a cheap TV-Movie look and feel. The framing and camera work is uninspired and could have used more close-ups, tighter editing and better lighting. The film also contains four generic sounding songs all sung by Mark Lindsey the former lead singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders that lack distinction and give the movie a dated quality.

I also didn’t care for the Margolin character. She is a beautiful woman physically, but the character is too much of a one-dimensional nag. Why she would continue to call Charlie and beg him to come back when he clearly lied to her while also openly telling her that she annoyed him didn’t make much sense. The scene where she walks in on him in bed with two naked women and instead of just ending the relationship immediately she stays and tries to ‘reason’ with him, which came off as pathetic and unrealistic.

This also marks the film debut of Nedra Volz a late bloomer into acting who at age 65 started a two decade career playing old lady roles in various TV-shows and movies. She can be briefly spotted at the 31-minute mark playing an old lady sitting on a bench at a bus stop and accepting a free newspaper only to become shocked and embarrassed at its provocative headline.

nedra volz

June Fairchild who appears as a woman who stuffs her face with food at a fancy restaurant thinking that she is being treated to dinner only to end up getting stiffed with the bill ironically had her real-life paralleling the lead character’s quandary in the movie. She was in a string of films during the 70’s, but when the offers dried up she became a homeless alcoholic living on skid row and the subject of a February, 2001 article in The Los Angeles Times. Friends came to her rescue and she managed to get back on her feet and now judging by some recent pics is looking happy and still quite attractive.

june fairchild 1

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 7, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes

Rated R

Director: Douglas N. Schwartz

Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation

Available: YouTube

The Runner Stumbles (1979)

the runner stumbles 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Priest accused of murder.

Based on actual events the setting is 1911 in a northern Michigan town where Father Brian Rivard (Dick Van Dyke) presides over a small Catholic parish. He feels frustrated at being stuck in such a depressed town where many of the residents are out of work. In comes Sister Rita (Kathleen Quinlan) to help run the school and the Father immediately takes a liking to her youthful enthusiasm and fresh ideas, but gossip and rumors soon abound when it is found that they are spending too much time together and possibly becoming intimate. When the Sister is found murdered it is the Father who is accused and must fight for his life while straddled with an attorney (Beau Bridges) who seems glib and detached.

One of the biggest problems with the film is the miscasting of Van Dyke in the lead. His performance is stiff, wooden and affected. The chemistry between the two stars is non-existent making the romantic angle seem completely unbelievable. The film would have been better served had a younger man that was more Quinlan’s age and trained in method acting been cast in the part.

Quinlan is excellent in her role, but her efforts become lost as they bounce off Van Dyke’s almost corpse-like presence. Maureen Stapleton adds some excellent support and it’s great to see Ray Bolger in his final film role as the intrusive Monsignor. Bridges is also great as the lawyer and the one thing that livens the film up a little. Had his court scenes been more extended it would have helped the picture immensely.

Director Stanley Kramer, whose last film this was, seems to have lost touch with the modern movie goer. The presentation is stagy and the overly melodic soundtrack does not fit the mood and gets overplayed almost like a radio going on in the background that somebody forgot to turn off. The conversations revolving around the predictably stifling atmosphere of the era add little interest and go on too long as do the debates between giving in to human desires versus religious commitments. The surprise ending hardly makes up for a film that is slow and boring and ultimately making it as stale and stagnant as the small town it tries to portray.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: November 16, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 49Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Stanley Kramer

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS

Gaily, Gaily (1969)

gaily gaily

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Naive fellow becomes wise.

Ben Harvey (Beau Bridges) is a sheltered young man who decides to leave the safe confines of his humble little town and make a go of it in the big city of Chicago in 1910. However, soon after arriving he is robbed of all of his money and then taken in by Lil (Melina Mercouri) a Madame at the local brothel. Ben then gets a job at the city newspaper, but finds corruption at every turn and when he tries to stop it he ends up falling victim to its allure like everyone else.

The first hour is engaging. It features just the right mix of Americana and whimsy. The pace is quick with a wonderfully quirky sense of humor that comes flying fast and furiously. Opening the film by having Ben dreaming of topless women and featuring some very old turn-of-the-century black and white porno pics is funky. I also liked the scene where Ben manages to make all the prostitutes at the bordello he is staying at teary-eyed after reading them a sad story that he had written. The look at Lil’s face when he tells her that his life’s ambition is to ‘change the world’ is a hoot.

Unfortunately the second half deteriorates badly. The scenes become stretched out too long and the attempts are farcical humor lack any cleverness. The side-story about the attempts of a mad scientist Dr. (Charles Tyner) at using a serum he has invented to revive the dead is stupid. The slapstick like chase sequence gets overblown and the whole thing ends on a flat and boring note, which is a shame. The sets and costumes recreating the period atmosphere are wonderful, but put to waste by the silly script. I felt the film could have been more interesting had it taken a more realistic and dramatic route.

Bridges is actually pretty good. He has played the wide-eyed idealist so many times that it becomes a bit annoying, but here he seems to be making fun of it and it works to an extent. However, his extreme naivety at not catching on that the women he is living with are prostitutes is just too over-the-top and makes you almost want to hit him on his head in order to drive some sense into it.

Brian Keith does well playing the type of gruff, brash character that he excels at. George Kennedy though seems stiff and out of place in the setting and does not appear to be particularly adept at comedy.

Mercouri looks to be having a lot of fun here and her singing isn’t bad either. Margot Kidder is fantastic in her film debut and one of the best things about the film. She plays one of Lil’s prostitutes who takes a liking to Ben and I enjoyed how her character goes from being jaded to idealistic and rather naïve. Melodie Johnson is great simply because she is gorgeous to look at. She is now a successful novelist and judging from the pictures on her website is still looking quite attractive.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: December 16, 1969

Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes

Rated R

Director: Norman Jewison

Studio: United Artists

Available: Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming