The Big Bounce (1969) Review
By Christopher Null
Alex March takes his sweet time getting us to even a small bounce, much less the titular big one.
In the parlance of Elmore Leonard's 1960s novel, a bounce refers to a crime, and party girl Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young in one of her first screen roles) is really into bouncing. When drifter Jack Ryan (no, not that Jack Ryan), played by Ryan O'Neal, shows up, Nancy encourages Jack's bad-boy past, goading him into riding along on her minor crime wave. Eventually of course that takes a turn for the worse (this being an Elmore Leonard book), and while much of this is obviously intended as twisty comedy a la Get Shorty, television director Alex March never gets a firm grasp of the material, leaving the proceedings quite flat. The big finale couldn't be more unsatisfying.
Taylor-Young is the highlight of the film, a screaming banshee when she needs to be and a sultry vixen the rest of the time. In his feature film debut, O'Neal has some growing to do, often delivering stilted dialogue and appearing self-conscious in what ought to be a Cool Hand Luke character. Oh, and the music sounds like Gone With the Wind cast-offs.
The Big Bounce is being remade in 2004, with Owen Wilson in O'Neal's role. No doubt Wilson can improve on the performance, but who knows what they'll be able to do with the script.
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