In Los Angeles, Moses Wine, who was part of the counter-culture of the late 1960s at UC-Berkeley, still has those radical feelings but no longer does anything about them. His wife Suzanne, who has transformed from a 1960s hippie to a 1970s new-ageist, divorced him when his law school background didn't materialize into the upper middle class liberal life she was expecting, she having sole custody of their two young sons, with Moses having visitation rights. Moses fell into work as a private investigator of the gumshoe variety, which usually doesn't cover his monthly child support payments. After not seeing her for ten years, Moses is contacted by Lila Shea, an old girlfriend from Berkeley, to do some investigative work on behalf of her boss, Sam Sebastian, the Southern California coordinator for the gubernatorial campaign of Congressman Miles Hawthorne. Lila felt Moses would be well suited to the job because of running within "the" crowd at Berkeley, even if only knowing the main ...Written by
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Two levels of nostalgia pervade counterculture gumshoe thriller
When it was released in 1978, there was already a distance built into The Big Fix, based on a detective novel set in the ashes of the counterculture. The story had been commissioned by Rolling Stone magazine from Roger L. Simon, who wrote the script. On its release, the film was already drawing on images of the late 60s that had ceased to be memories but had already entered a misty mythology.
Richard Dreyfuss, fresh from the Spielberg hits (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) that had made him a star. not to mention his Academy Award for The Goodbye Girl), plays Moses Wine, aonetime rebel who has fallen on hardtimes. His wife, Bonnie Bedelia, has divorced him (though he dotes --rather tiresomely -- on his two sons), and he earns his keep as aprivate investigator when not smoking up and playing solitaire Clue in his -- there's no other word -- "pad."
Operatives of a political campaign sign him on to find out who is waging a dirty-tricks campaign to link their candidate to a legendary radical, now disappeared deep into the underground. The story has some interesting twists, particularly those involving Susan Anspach, John Lithgow and F. Murray Abraham, but the plot tends to disappear into holes here and there, as though told in a marijuana haze.
Viewed in the new millennium, The Big Fix unfolds behind two scrims of nostalgia: The one in the story itself, where 60s has-beens, unhappy with how the world has turned, yearn for barricades and love-ins; and the one revealed by the talents who made the movie, where that yearning for the heady days of the counterculture -- Berkeley! Vietnam! Hash brownies! -- has developed its own, peculiarly fusty period flavor.
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