Jack Ryan is a young Vietnam veteran with a criminal record, who gets fired from his job as a migrant laborer on a California produce farm run by the mean-spirited camp manager Bob Rodgers. Ryan then meets and teams up with the seductive Nancy Barker the secretary and mistress to the unscrupulous owner Ray Ritchie. When Ryan takes another job as a cleaner at a local motel owned by Sam Mirakian a local justice-of-the-peace, Nancy again approaches Ryan to help her rob Ritchie's safe in his house which allegedly has $50,000 of payroll money. Ryan reluctantly agrees to help with the heist, but becomes highly distrustful of Nancy, suspecting she may double-cross him to keep all the money for herself, and vice versa with her over him. Written by
Sexy Mix of Noir and Teen Exploitation. Fairly Hot Stuff
In its own sexy, shoddy way, this 1969 film version of an early Elmore Leonard novel is better than the recent "hip" version with Owen Wilson. It mixes film noir conventions with teen exploitation riffs and a fair amount of nudity for a guilty pleasure that's redolent of late 60s/early 70s cheeseball cinema.
Ryan O'Neal is a drifter (good hearted, of course) who hooks up with Leigh Taylor Young, a bad girl out for "kicks." Leigh gets Ryan into bed and then into vandalism and robbery and...well, you know where the film is going. It's the journey that's the fun.
O'Neal had a sort of bruised likability that worked for him on TV's Peyton Place and he uses it effectively here. Young, married to him at the time and his PPlace co star, is sulky and seductive and, oh yes, naked a lot as a girl who just wants to have fun. Their brief love scenes have a fair amount of steam to them and watching them drop their bell bottoms to go skinny dipping gives the whole movie a certain "Boogie Nights" flavor. The (then) O'Neals were one hot couple.
There's a good supporting cast: Robert Webber, Lee Grant, doing a dry run for "Shampoo" as a horny divorcee, James Daly, a nice, slimy villain who pimps out Ms. Young to some business men, and Van Heflin in what may be his last role. On the downside, the direction is a bit flat, lacking in the kind of edge that can really make a crime story cook. And the score, as noted in another post, is atrocious, poured like syrup over scene after scene.
The Big Bounce definetly qualifies as a guilty pleasure, what with Ms. Young going hysterical and smashing a living room up with a fire poker and O'Neal smashing an opponent smack in the face with a baseball bat, and in the credits no less. All in all, this version is preferable to the Owen Wilson one in which you can practically see the actors' tongues push out their cheeks as they condescend to the materail. Here there's a fair amount of sweat, exploitation and a hint of camp as the good looking leads go through their noir paces. Worth a rental.
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