Monday, July 23, 2012

When Bad Blake Was Bad- Jeff Bridges’ “Rancho Deluxe”

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Jeff Bridges’ Rancho Deluxe

DVD Review

Rancho Deluxe, starring Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, United Artists, 1975

I have over the past several years, ever since Jeff Bridges won his well- deserved Oscar for his portrayal of bad boy singer-songwriter Bad Blake, in Crazy Hearts been on a tear to review his earlier work. My premise has been all along that the persona of Bad was genetically-engineered in Bridges by his previous performances on the screen. And in some case that proved true. In the film under review here, Rancho Deluxe, an argument can be made for the randomness of that genetic structuring. This one does not lead to thoughts of future Oscars (or nominations) for one Jeff Bridges.

Why? The 1970s were a great time to debunk the various ingrained notions about the heroic cowboy, about the “freedom” of the Old West, and about the civilizing mission of the white man. This film attempt in its way to put a big pin in that balloon with a send-up of what the New West looks like. That is not bad as an idea, except the saga gets bogged down in 1970s ennui (or maybe anytime ennui). Jeff and Sam (Waterston, as an Indian, not a Native American even) are cattle rustlers in Big Sky Montana seemingly out on a lark. The get in and out of various forms of mischief and mayhem, with and without women, until the final reckoning- caught and placed in the state pen (not like the old days when they would have been hanged, hanged high). And that seems fitting. Sorry Jeff, maybe that is why I had a hard time finding this one to review.

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