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547 - Drive, He Said

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#1 Lawrence


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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:29 AM

Jack Nicholson

United States • 1970 • 90 minutes • Color • 1.85:1 • English
Fresh off of his Five Easy Pieces success, Jack Nicholson mounted his enormously irreverent directorial debut. Based on the best-selling novel by Jeremy Larner, Drive, He Said, free-spirited and sobering by turns, is a sketch of the exploits of a disaffected college basketball player (William Tepper) and his increasingly radical roommate (Michael Margotta), as well as a feverishly shot and edited snapshot of the early seventies (some of it was filmed during an actual campus protest). Fueled by Vietnam-era anxieties and perched on the edge of utter insanity, Nicholson’s audacious comedy (also starring Bruce Dern and Karen Black) is a startling howl direct from the zeitgeist.


  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Jack Nicholson (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • A Cautionary Tale of Campus Revolution and Sexual Freedom, a 2009 video piece in which director Jack Nicholson discusses the experience of making this film
  • Theatrical trailer

#2 Lawrence


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Posted 21 August 2010 - 10:30 AM

  • DVD Release Date: November 23, 2010
  • Available as part of America Lost and Found: The BBS Story box set:

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#3 Izo


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Posted 11 August 2011 - 04:08 PM

Hm...this film was kind of intermittently good, but overall it's a noble failure. The biggest problem I had was that the film lacked focus, as most of the stuff with the politically radical roommate just fell flat, and he gets way too much screentime. He's crazy with no basis in reality, so we can't even sympathize with him as viewers. I feel like this could be a really good film if Nicholson had chosen to focus almost the entirety of the film on the basketball team, with Bruce Dern's coach as the protagonist. The movie really seems to come alive when its dealing with the players and the coach. But alas, that's not the film Nicholson wanted to make and instead we have an interesting failure.

#4 clydefro


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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:05 PM

Lowered expectations can do wonders but I at least found this to be interesting. No it doesn't ever threaten to be great and there's also a leap in logic required so that the viewer accepts a star basketball player would be roommates with a campus revolutionary. Still, the movie has a nice amount of continued momentum in the sense that it feels resistant to interference and ultimately representative of whatever vision Nicholson et al. had.

The other thing is that the transfer here is gorgeous. The combination of technical quality, subject matter and lack of overall success reminded me of a BFI Flipside film, and I mean that actually as something of a compliment. It was definitely worth a look.

#5 Duke Togo

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Posted 21 April 2016 - 08:27 PM

I wouldn't classify this as great, but I will say I found it rather special, and much better than expected.
I believed in the Gabriel character, though, I think focusing too much on Hector made him a bit easy to dismiss as a serious focus. I found him to be a tangible human being throughout, with his transformation from paranoid kid of the counter-culture to full-blown damaged goods giving a respectable depiction of the psychological damage the draft had on our youth. I will admit his situation jumped around a bit (the attempted rape of Olive was bizarre), but more of less the shape of your typical character arc. The two leads may have been an odd couple, but I think the lure to the radical end of the spectrum by Hector made the need of the pair-up rather clear. I've never read the book, but from reviews online it appears this focus was central to the narrative.
I appreciated the serious tone it maintained amidst all the sex and college-comedy opportunities. The relationship between Hector and Olive was thoughtful, complex, and one of the better early examples of free-love criticism. The film isn't the tip-top of the BBS set for me, but then I found the set mostly great. I can appreciate that a lot of the missed beats could be attributed to the freedom of experimentation, and I celebrate it as a mostly successful, and absolutely important effort. 


I agree about the transfer, this one looks brand-new.

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