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Getting Straight (1970)

A Vietnam vet and former social radical is conflicted by his desire to become a teacher and his sympathy with anti-establishment student protests.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Bailey
Dr. Edward Willhunt
Max Julien ...
Dr. Kasper
Jon Lormer ...
William Bramley ...
Wade Linden
Judy Kramer
Richard Anders ...
Dr. Greengrass
Brenda Sykes ...
Jenny Sullivan ...


Harry Bailey has returned from Vietnam and returns to college to earn his masters degree so he can teach English. He is considered a hero among the radical student body, but still sees the absurdity on both sides of the fence. He contends with the reactionary administration and the impetuous, often futile objectives of the restless students. He acts as a mediator between the two feuding bodies. On top of everything else, his girlfriend Jan wants to marry him and live a life in the suburbs. He is cornered and finally lets loose at his own masters degree dissertation meeting, just as the latest protest heats up. Written by thustlebird

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Getting Straight lays it on the line. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 May 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Camino recto  »

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Did You Know?


The Californian university campus seen in the movie was a community college in the American state of Oregon in the USA with the picture not being filmed in California but in Eugene, Lane County, Oregon. See more »


Nick: [about Sally to Harry] Good scientist, lousy lay.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A film by the organization See more »


Referenced in The Sinister Saga of Making 'The Stunt Man' (2000) See more »


I'll Build a Bridge
Written by Jack Keller and Ernie Sheldon
Sung by The New Establishment
See more »

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User Reviews

Embodies exactly why the cultural revolution of the sixties happened/.

Don't you feel when they tell you war's a game / You're dead before you even start to play / Don't you feel you're just a number not a name / Your number's up today

Don't you feel what Chicken Little said is coming true / Can't you see the writing on the wall / Don't you feel the floor and ceiling closing in on you...

Or don't you feel at all?

"Getting Straight" has to do with something few even remember anymore: overthrowing the "Nixon People"--the 1950's culture. But it's not about getting "straight", it's about becoming the opposite. It's about realizing who you really are and what you must be.

Elliot Gould is an English teacher who is caught between these two worlds. He is is a graduate student who has his all-important Masters' thesis meeting soon. He's also a LITTLE too old for the world of the protesting and demonstrating college kids, angry about 'Nam, social injustice, repressive politics

...and gender-segregated dorms.

In the film, he tries very, very hard to see both sides. He even becomes the conduit for communication between the two sides. But at every turn, his efforts at cooperation, reconciliation, and approving things are thrown back in his face by the old people, who just don't "get it", and never will.

The final straw for the kids comes when the University responded to demands for co-ed dorms by moving the dorm curfew for other-sex visitors back by 30 minutes.

The point is: they genuinely thought that was enough.

As the intermediary, Gould pointed to a kid who had just thrown a rock through the Administration building window and told the the University president, "See that kid? A year ago he just wanted to get laid. Now he wants to kill somebody! YOU SHOULD HAVE LET HIM GET LAID!!"

But the older generation never understood that what was going on was not just about getting laid or 'Nam, it was an American Revolution of a kind not seen since the first one. And they didn't know it was about to blast them into the dustbin of history.

The last straw for Gould himself was when he tried to play by the rules at his Masters' meeting with the English faculty. He answered increasingly ridiculous questions the way they wanted him too. But in the end, like the kids, the situation with the old people became something he could no longer tolerate.

In his case, it was a closeted homosexual professor (in those days nobody talked admitted it openly) who insisted that Gould agree that the in the Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby's woman friend Jordan Baker, a golfer, was a reference to homosexuality, and that in fact there was a gay relationship between Gatsby and his neighbor Nick Carraway.

He finally realized that he has to be a radical, too, because old white man insists on forcing old-white-man beliefs on everyone else, no matter how poorly they fit.

He climbed up on the conference room table, announced that the greatest American literary form was the dirty limerick, told one, and then joined the rioting kids who had just broken down the English building door and were tearing everything up. He threw a symbolic rock through a window, and had became radicalized.

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