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Tucker: The Man and His Dream

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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 23, 2000 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

In director Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker", Jeff Bridges plays Preston Tucker, a man with the dream of building the perfect automobile. Early on, we're introduced to the base elements of the tale; Tucker has a loving family, smiles a lot and generally seems like an energetic fellow who wants nothing more than to build an automobile, and like most movie heroes, he won't take no for an answer.

Financed by businessman Abe(Martin Landau), Tucker begins to build his team and promote his new company. The sense of period and time is masterfully done; Vittorio Storaro's cinematography looks stunning, and images are often bathed in a rich light. Bridges and Joan Allen as Tucker's wife are both fantastic actors who can completely become a role (I keep thinking of Bridges' stunning performance in the Coen Brothers' "Big Lebowski"), and they do that again here.

There are times when "Tucker" becomes a little too sunny for its own good early on. It's not that it's not well acted, but it eventually becomes uninteresting until a point midway through the picture where Tucker gets the rug pulled out from under him as he discovers he's not the head of the company as he thought he was. Obstacles begin to build against Tucker, and the dramatic moments of the film work best.

"Tucker: The Man and His Dream" is often a very good movie, although there are times when I felt that the movie sometimes doesn't quite go as far into the details of the life of Preston Tucker as I'd have liked.


VIDEO: The good and the not so good appear in Paramount's presentation of "Tucker". The good: the image quality is marvelous in this THX approved transfer. The bad: director Francis Ford Coppola has chosen to present this film at about 1.90:1 or so instead of the film's original 2.35:1 ratio. Why this is, I don't know, but it was the director's choice. As for the picture quality, it does a near-perfect job at capturing Vittorio Storaro's beautiful imagery. Sharpness is very good throughout the film; aside from some shots that seem a little bit intentionally "soft", the picture quality looks great. Detail is strong, and clarity is excellent.

Few flaws pop up throughout, but don't prove to be a distraction. These include a tiny bit of shimmer once or twice and a couple of tiny marks on the print used. These prove to be hardly noticable for the most part, and for a movie that's now 12 years old, the print is in particularly pleasing condition. The best way to illustrate how good the majority of the film looks is that it looks "fresh", almost like-new. Colors look great - well-saturated and rich, with no problems at all.

Although it's unfortunate that Coppola has decided to present this movie in a different aspect ratio than it was originally presented in, the general picture quality in this presentation from Coppola's American Zoetrope company is excellent.

SOUND: Although not agressive, the new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is actually really good. The jazzy, lively score provides a great background to the movie and sounds very good here. Surrounds mainly offer the score when they are used, but they also do get some additional light use for subtle sounds such as the rain at about an hour and 22 minutes into the movie. Dialogue is clear and crisp, easily heard and natural. Good audio that gets the job done and more.

MENUS:: The menus for "Tucker" are a lot of fun, with 40's-style images of car-themes, as well as some fun little bits of animation.


Commentary: Certainly the biggest special feature on the disc is a commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola. He provides a very enjoyable discussion of the movie on this track, giving the viewer a "tour" of the locations and production, and talking about the reality of the story of "Tucker". Much like the commentary I just listened to from Wolfgang Petersen for "The Perfect Storm", Coppola seems like a fun and energetic person, and his comments give good insight into the story and production. He even brings a few jokes into the proceedings, such as when he ponders early on if he should sell one of the cars that was built for the production on ebay.

The director talks about his plans for the movie, and how things eventually came together to take the film in the direction it went down, with the encouragement of George Lucas. There are only some small pauses now and then - none of them distracting - and I found the majority of it to be a fun and informative discussion of the director's viewpoint about the tale of Tucker and also, how the production came together.

Under The Hood: Making Tucker: A message introduces this short documentary - a note from Coppola's American Zoetrope company (who put this DVD together) that this is a documentary that was put together from interviews taken in 1988. The following is a series of discussions by cast members like Allen and Bridges as well as filmmakers Coppola and producer George Lucas. Here, we find out more details about Tucker's story, and general information about the production. Worth a look, and about 10 minutes.

Tucker Promo Film: Although it's not in the greatest condition (as one might expect from a 1948 ad), it's pretty interesting to see what a real promo film that Tucker did looked like. 15 minutes and you can choose to watch this advertisement with commentary from director Francis Ford Coppola.

Final Thoughts: "Tucker" isn't quite the film it could have been, but much of it is still very good. So is this DVD edition, where, although the picture is altered, the quality of both video and audio is fine. Recommended.

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