Jeff Bridges plays the black sheep of an aristocratic Southern family. Shiftless and callow,he is involved in a shady real-estate deal headed up by Joe Spinell (ex of The Godfather,later to gain notoriety as the title character in Maniac). In order to complete the deal,Bridges has to buy out a fitness club, populated by such characters as gym instructor Sally Field,would-be Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger (now there’s casting against type) and hishappy-go-l…cky greaser, Robert Englund. Bridges is drawn into this community, and (bet youcan’t see this coming ) Learns Valuable Life Lessons.
Bob Rafelson’s film, adapted from the novel by Charles Gaines, is almost as aimless asBridges himself, but, also like him, remains oddly likeable. Its narrative arc is nothing inparticular, and the climax is ridiculous, but quirky characterizations (Arnie playing the fiddle) areengaging, and it is now fascinating to see so many faces that would become famous for playingparts light years from those in this film.
The mono soundtrack is clean, free of hiss, and untroubled by distortion. Beyond that, thereisn’t too much to say, though we are at least spared a badly done stereo remix. The dialogue issometimes a bit hard to catch, due either to thick accents or loud background noise effects.
The 1976 film is showing its age: the picture is rather grainy and soft, and the colours seem(to me, anyway) at little bit darker than necessary (though they are generally quite strong). About42 minutes into the film, background flicker becomes more noticeable. The blacks are solid. Thedisc comes with both fullscreen and 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen versions.
Bob Rafelson offers an interesting and engaging video introduction, outlining how the filmcame to be. The commentary (by Rafelson, Bridges and Field) goes over some of the sameground as the introduction, but goes into much more background and memories of the shoot.Rafelson dominates the discussion, and (among other things) recounts how Schwarzenegger toldhim back in 1975 that he planned to become governor of California. Also here is the theatricaltrailer. The menu is basic.
An interesting release, now even more fascinating thanks to subsequent careers. Andremember: Arnie won himself a Golden Globe for his work here.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Video Introduction by Director
- Theatrical Trailer