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OutOfContext

Jeff Bridges--Yes. In the last year he has become my absolute favorite performer. He snuck up on me--mostly because he made the kind of movies I wasn't compelled to see. For some reason I Netflix-ed Fearless and I was just riveted by him. The story's got problems but I couldn't get over him. I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Karen

Man, you ain't kiddin'. That is one prodigious cast. You sold me--I just slammed it to the top of my Netflix queue. Thank heavens there was room to add it! (Fun fact: Netflix does not allow you to have more than 500 movies in your queue, including those listed as "Saved" for future release.)

But, Lance! In your list of A-list and B-list Bridges films, no love for "The Jagged Edge"??

Idyllopus

"The Big Lebowski" is one of my favorite movies but I'm not sure it would be if not for Jeff Bridges. I've watched a lot of great great movies and watched them again and again, but if I was stranded on a desert island with a television and generator and could only take with me one movie, I would probably choose "The Big Lebowski" over any other film.

"I was, uh, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. The original Port Huron Statement. Not the compromised second draft. And then I, uh...ever hear of the Seattle Seven?"

He nailed it. I laughed for ten years.

"My career's, uh, slowed down a bit lately."

That hammered the nail all the way through the other side of the board and will keep me laughing for another ten.

"The Big Lebowski" is my kind of mystic revelation.

I was certainly aware of Bridges before "The Fabulous Baker Boys", because I remember wondering how he'd do in it. And it was a terrible movie and knocked Bridges almost completely off my radar. But not quite.

"The Fisher King"? It had promise, I wanted to like it, but it was the protagonist of "Brazil" (a movie I'd loved) split into two and congratulated with a bizarrely happy ending with peculiar Woody Allen undertones. I didn't mind the stretch for a happy ending, which was probably built for the mainstream, but the way it was done made confetti of dignities the film had labored to build.

Though I didn't care for the film, I started paying more attention to Jeff Bridges, who did his best to anchor it, greatly aided by Mercedes Ruehl.

(I hadn't seen "The Fisher King" since it was released but because of your mention of it I watched it again tonight, wondering if I might like it better now, and I don't. My assessment remains the same.)

Then there was Weir's "Fearless". And I decided Bridges was one of the best out there.

"The Big Lebowski" settled him, as The Dude on his magic carpet ride, in the stars as a mythic hero.

Bluegrass Poet

Thanks, Lance, for this appreciation of Jeff Bridges. I agree he's the best. I don't have anything to say that really adds to the discussion but I do want to vote for "The Fabulous Baker Boys" as one of Bridges' best, maybe because it was the first Bridges performance that really struck me. "The Last Picture Show" I was all eyes for Cloris Leachman.

Exiled in New Jersey

You hit it out of the park, Lance. What a pity Bridges was sidetracked into the thriller/action roles too often, though Arlington Road is a very interesting topical idea, and has Tim Robbins to boot, and a downer ending right out of the seventies. But in so many of his films, he is the only reason to watch: The Last American Hero is an early piece based on Junior Johnson, one of Nascar's early heroes. He carries the film.

Howard Chaykin

For over thirty years, Jeff Bridges has been the best American screen actor alive--a guy who combines in one package elements of the performers who made me stay up all night to catch movies in a pre VCR age. He's our Jimmy Stewart, our Henry Fonda--with a lot of Cary Grant and William Holden thrown in for good measure--with the addition of a mean streak that no one would have allowed these icons in their early work, but emerged later under the hands of Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Mann, Billy Wilder and Sergio Leone.

You list a whole pack of sensational performances--although I'd quibble about WINTER KILLS being a minor film, since I believe any combination of the rarely mentioned anymore political prescient Richard Condon and John Huston could never be minor--but you forget three great pictures of that period, THE LAST AMERICAN HERO, BAD COMPANY and SUCCESS aka THE AMERICAN SUCCESS COMPANY. The latter in particular is astonishing.

I've always felt that Jeff Bridges is the best we have, and that Kevin Costner and Tom Hanks were variations on his persona. I also believe that Tom Hanks somehow managed to acquire both Jeff Bridges and Kevin Costner's career--in Bridges' case because he had less interest in such things, and in Costner's because he misunderstood how terrific he was in BULL DURHAM and digressed weirdly.

And now I digress...

OutOfContext

Bridges' website is really good--loose, fun and full of this man's boundless creativity and curiosity. Thanks for the link, Lancelot. I knew about his photographs, because my wife has a book, but he's got some amazing papercut sculptures.

Batocchio

I've been a huge fan of Bridges since The Fisher King. Even if the films themselves are uneven, he's always good. His performances in The Contender and A Door in the Floor are great. Fearless is fantastic as well - although I believe a letterboxed version is still not available!

Raenelle

For me, it's his voice. And his eyes, which show both intelligence and gentleness. The mystery to me, as with DeNiro, is why such a handsome man hasn't ever played sexy. I can't remember either DeNiro or Bridges ever having on-screen chemistry with an actress.

Kit Stolz

One facet of Bridges all must admit, be they admirers or detractors -- the man is fearless. And funny. And that's a rare combination. Be interesting to see DeNiro and Bridges together in a comedy...daring each other to see who would take the bigger chances.

Karen

"The mystery to me, as with DeNiro, is why such a handsome man hasn't ever played sexy."

Raenelle, are you serious? Back in the '80s, every woman I knew was drooling over him in "Against All Odds."

sfmike

You left out his most important late role, as The Big Z, in "Surf's Up," a bizarrely beautiful animated film about surfing penguins. If you haven't checked it out yet, highly recommended.

Lance

Karen: But, Lance! In your list of A-list and B-list Bridges films, no love for "The Jagged Edge"??

Jagged Edge? What's next? The Mirror Has Two Faces?

Raenelle: I can't remember either DeNiro or Bridges ever having on-screen chemistry with an actress.

Ahem. Michelle Pfieffer? Fabulous Baker Boys?

And I think Bridges and Karen Allen made a good pair in Starman. But I think overall you're right. He doesn't usually play a lover and he's more often played opposite another man.

I wonder if this has anything to do with he and his wife's having been married 30 years.

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