Re-releases of films for their milestone anniversaries are always entertaining. Most of the time they tap into our youth, not only making us feel old but allowing us to relive a time when we had less worry and more enjoyment in life. The 30th anniversary release for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 film Tucker: The Man and His Dream didn’t fall into either of those categories, instead creating a new experience for this film fan.
Based on a true story, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is about automotive pioneer Preston Tucker. Tucker sees beyond most car manufacturers of the 40s, he sees the future and innovations possible in car design. The film follows his rise, and ultimate fall, as he tries to manufacture a revolutionary concept called the Tucker Torpedo.
For a film fan like myself, I was not aware of this film until it’s re-release, which is surprising considering the decorated director and extraordinary cast. There was a moment of relish in realizing the gold mine of a journey I was about to embark on with these talents, but that soon faded into utter transfixation with the story. Most of the cast is still going strong in current films, with some being known for particular characters, but they didn’t bring that baggage with them for this film.
It’s an interesting concept, especially when you consider Tucker himself, the iconic Jeff Bridges. It’s true that this film was made well before The Dude was engrained in our psyche, but we are so connected to The Dude, that it’s hard to see Bridge’s role, old or new, as anything but. In revisiting an older film of his, we are able to watch his talent shine, embrace a new, well-rounded character and realize just how wonderful Bridges is as an actor. The audience can become engrossed in the journey the movie and characters make without visions of other films flashing before our eyes.
This whole movie seems to break type for all those involved, and it’s great to be a part of. As mentioned before, the majority of the names that flashed on screen in the beginning are ones the audience is familiar with, maybe even beloved, but this film is not typical of the work we are used to. Engaging in the period piece atmosphere of the 1940s, when the film is set, a hopefulness hovers the story. We’ve discussed the new image of Bridges bestowed on us, and the same goes for Joan Allen and even director Coppola.
Allen is still the strong, no nonsense woman we have grown to love, but seeing her portray this character in a time when it’s not common, and commented on during the film, is an interesting juxtaposition. Allen balances strength and femininity well as Vera Tucker, a perfect partner for Mr. Tucker himself. The period tone of the film is also a welcomed surprise for Coppola. While not a novice in the realm of period films, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is still a break of sorts for his films. The looming threat of the Big 3 car manufacturers is ever present through the film, and Coppola plays on this with his typical dark light and sensory tones. There is, however, a large portion of the film that has an air of hope and imagination that he also enjoys. This film is definitely the most artsy film in Coppola’s roster, and it’s a nice exploration into a different visionary world of this well-known director.
As much as this film is a fun ride through a possible unknown area of our favorite film stars, it’s also a perfect message for the time we are living in now. The hope of innovation and imagination that Tucker is so lost in is something that is missing from our world now. There is a fear of the unknown, of taking the chance from our safety net of the world we’ve created for ourselves, that the progression of our culture has become stale. To play off a quote from the film, success isn’t measured by the quantity of the outcome, but by the willingness to take a leap of faith with an idea.
Optimism is a blessing, a wonderful quality to have in a world of hardships and restrictions. It brings out not only the good in yourself, but i those around you. It’s not a bad thing to fall down the rabbit hole of our dreams, as long as those trusted around us are willing to pull us back to reality. The balance shown throughout Tucker: The Man and His Dream is one we can learn from. Just because an engine has never been put in the back of the car before, doesn’t mean it can’t happen, you will just need to work through logic to make it happen effectively.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream is a brilliant film that deserves a new audience. It’s a wonderful piece in some very talented filmmakers’ filmography, but it is also the slice of hope our society needs to grab onto in order to see the bright boundless future ahead.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream is now available to purchase on Blu-ray + Digital and Digital 4K Ultra HD
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Lionsgate