DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Big Bounce (1969).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    May 7, 2001
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    The Big Bounce (1969)

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1969
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 102 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD Mono
    Color/B&W: Color
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.98
    Package: Snap Case

    The Feature:
    The original 1969 version was set for release late last year and was temporarily delayed presumably so the release would coincide with the upcoming remake. The remake is slated for release at the end of January and is littered with stars with the likes of Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Morgan Freeman, Willie Nelson, Gary Sinise and Harry Dean Stanton.

    In this version, Jack Ryan (played by Ryan O’Neal in his first major role) is an impetuous young man recently discharged from the military after having seen some action in Vietnam. Unfortunately, he has somewhat of a colored past which had put him on the wrong side of the law when he was younger. Upon his return, Jack takes a job on a cucumber farm, and becomes embroiled in a fight where he winds up striking another worker with a baseball bat. Though the authorities don’t seem too keen on prosecuting Jack, they, as well as the owner of the farm, indicate it would be in his best interest to just leave town.

    Jack decides to go back to the farm to collect his gear and leave town. On his way back while hitchhiking, he gets picked up by the owner of the farm and his beautiful young mistress Nancy Barker (played by Leigh Taylor-Young who was soon to become famous for her role as “Shirl” in Soylent Green and was married to O’Neal at the time in real life). The flirtatious young woman is as intrigued about Jack’s checkered past as he is enamored with her vivacious nature. Nancy is a thrill-seeker who is about as dangerously inquisitive as conceivable, willing to try virtually anything regardless of the consequences.

    As Jack is leaving town he stops off at the local bar which is where he meets Judge Sam Mirakian (played by Van Heflin who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1942’s Johnny Eager). Unbeknownst to Jack, it was the Judge who was ultimately responsible for his freedom. Sam takes an immediate liking to the young man and winds up offering him a job at his motel as a handyman. Jack initially turns down the generous offer and questions his sincerity and motives but eventually accepts and goes to work for the Judge.

    While working at the motel, Jack eventually runs into Nancy who invites him to meet her later that evening for a walk along the beach. During their walk, Nancy becomes very inquisitive as to Jack’s past and decides the she also wants to experience the thrills she refers to as “bounces” (apparently referred to as crimes in the original book). Jack reluctantly agrees and they wind up breaking into a house just to experience the thrill. As their relationship progresses, so too does the level of danger that persists in Nancy’s pursuit of the ultimate thrill.

    Becoming frustrated with her secondary position as the mistress to the wealthy farm owner, and realizing her days are eventually numbered as the “kept” playmate, she concocts a plan for the ultimate thrill which will net her and Jack a cool $50,000 which her suitor keeps on hand to pay the migrant workers. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and one of them is about to have another encounter with the good Judge.

    I’ve said this many times before. Reviewing allows for viewing opportunities that might not have otherwise taken place. The Big Bounce is yet another example. To be perfectly honest, prior to last years release schedule, I had never even heard of it. Not to mention the cover art which from what I could find (for the exception of a couple of photos) is most similar to the original design, and is pretty unappealing. The movie apparently was pretty much panned during its original theatrical release and O’Neal’s efforts weren’t exactly lauded. That said, it was an entertaining little movie and I was pleasantly surprised.

    Shown in its original AR of 2.35:1, this transfer looks great. Filmed along the coast of Northern California in the Monterey area, much of the scenery and cinematography is gorgeous. The black levels were as dark as imaginable and the film had a great level of contrast which displayed a very nice sense of texture.

    Though somewhat soft at times, the level of image detail was very impressive. There were several close-ups which would rival many recent releases. While I would not describe the colors as vibrant, I would say they looked absolutely gorgeous. They were beautifully warm and seemed very accurate. Skin tones also looked appropriate.

    There were a few instances of light shimmer and light speckle but they were neither troublesome nor bothersome. Film dust and dirt was virtually non-existent. Due to the numerous outdoor shots, edge enhancement would have been rife had it existed, thankfully it was virtually free of any enhancement. There were no other compression issues to speak of either.

    This is a video transfer that took me by surprise. It is gorgeous…!!

    I really don’t have a lot to say regarding the audio track. The original DD Mono track is offered and is rather blasé at best. While dialogue is clear for the most part, the track lacks any depth and tends to become almost fatiguing – at least during some of the action sequences, and there are a few. Not fatiguing to point of irritability but just to a point of it being rather stark.

    There are a couple of songs which accompany the film and are rather fitting adding to the feel of the 60’s. It is rendered quite nicely – never compromising the dialogue. There was a slight hint of hiss initially but it didn’t last long.

    Not a track to get excited over but it does deliver what is expected of it…!

    Special Features:
    The only special feature included is:
    [*] The Theatrical Trailer which is in reasonably good condition although it does have one or two expletives cut from it...

    That’s it..!

    Final Thoughts:
    I’m not sure how much of a fanbase there is for O’Neal, Taylor-Young or even Heflin. Nor I am convinced that the remake will best the original version (at least from what I have been reading…), even with the involvement of one of my favorites, Morgan Freeman. But I did enjoy this movie perhaps more than I should have… if that makes any sense? Without question, there’s no denying Taylor-Young was responsible for much of that allure.

    As for the presentation, though the DD mono track was rather ho-hum, the video transfer was an exceptionally pleasant surprise. Even though I suspect this film might not necessarily appeal to the masses, I would encourage at least a Sunday afternoon rental.

    Release Date: March 2nd, 2004

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