Sunday, September 25, 2011

"The American Sucess Company" with Jeff Bridges and Bianca Jagger (1980)

I saw this movie last in 1980, just before the final, re-edited version was released, and I loved it. Most people didn't. The story involves Jeff Bridges, who plays a low level corporate manager, married to Bianca Jagger, who plays the boss's daughter. But rather than sit on his ass and be content with doing essentially nothing, not to mention catering to every whim of his narcissistic wife, he decides to become a man. And he takes an unusual route to his goal. He adopts an alternate persona, complete with an eye patch. He becomes, in short, a menacing sort of fellow.

Hiring a hooker to teach him to be more assertive in bed, and in life, he gradually emerges from his shell and is able to confront both his father-in-law, as well as his wife. The movie was roundly panned in it's initial incarnation, and then soundly drubbed by the critics after it's re-release. It's worth noting that the title was changed at least twice before it's second, and final release. Even the poster art was changed in an effort to jump start this film. I have used the original poster here in lieu of the final cover.

Some of the lack of enthusiasm for this film in 1980 may have been a product of the changing times in regards to relations between men and women. In this film, Bianca Jagger plays the daughter, who mainly concerns herself with twirling around in front of mirrors while dressed as a ballerina. Her father, played by Ned Beatty, indulges her every whim. In a twisted way this film is reminiscent of "My Man Godfrey", and Carole Lombard's part as the spoiled rich girl. In that film only William Powell is able to break through the stifling world inherited by Lombard's character, much in the way that Jeff Bridges is finally able to bring his wife down to earth, only to find that he doesn't love her, or the world from which she comes.

As women's roles changed during the late 1970's and early 1980's, this film may have been perceived as an affront to women, and this may have contributed to the movies lack of success. I have not seen this film in over 30 years, and even had to look up Jeff Bridges filmography to get the title correct, it was changed twice, but I do remember enjoying the film for the broad satire it was intended to be. The film is available on line, and if you have never seen it before, you should take the time to check out this unusual and off beat comedy. The message is clear; that while we don't always get what we want, what we want is often what we didn't need, or desire, to begin with. This is a very unusual, and entertaining, film.

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