Coppola's not-so-secret autobiography, both beautiful and heartbreaking
I'm not sure how you can honestly say you're a fan of Francis Ford Coppola's work if you don't rank this right alongside the very best of his '70s work. It's easily the most personal film he ever made, and it's also one of the most beautiful. Maybe part of the problem is that the film he made is simply too much for home video to handle. When the film came out, I worked at a theater that played it, and I saw it seven or eight times in the two weeks it played. That print was gorgeous, lush, like it was printed on candy. And on VHS, it looked terrible. On laserdisc, it looked better, but it wasn't as vivid as that film print. On DVD, it's a mess. A huge mess. I'm sort of amazed as I revisit the disc that it is a DVD print. It's soft and the colors sort of bleed, and it just doesn't look very good at all. It's noisy. Here's a film just begging for a gorgeous BluRay restoration and release, and maybe if the right person at Paramount Home Video reads this and realizes just what a gem they're sitting on, it might get coughed up at some point. After all, the Warner Archives just made "Freebie and the Bean" available, so anything is possible.
Preston Tucker was an inventor, a salesman, a huckster, a family man, a crackpot, a criminal, and an inspiration, depending on who you talked to, and from the moment the film begins, it's obvious that Coppola sees himself in this guy who is willing to risk everything, over and over and over again, in order to follow his dreams. This is the Coppola who hadn't yet settled into the financial stability that he now finally deservedly enjoys. Coppola has gone bankrupt something like 347 times. I may be exaggerating, but not by much. And it's because he bet on his art. I think Coppola's a goddamn hero by example, and even if I don't love everything he's ever made, I love him. I love the way he talks about his own films and other people's films and the way his passions plays out in his filmmaking. Jeff Bridges is playing about as far from Coppola as is physically possible, tall and chiseled and golden-hued, with the Norman Rockwell family spilling out of his Norman Rockwell house, but in terms of the way he pursues his dreams, they seem to be cut from identical cloth.