Getting Straight Richard Rush

The latest reissue in Sony's "Martini Movies" series, Getting Straight finds Elliot Gould playing Harry Bailey, a young Vietnam veteran weeks away from receiving his Master's degree and becoming a teacher. His girlfriend Jan (Candice Bergen) expresses interest in marrying him and moving to the suburbs, which terrifies him. Harry is desperate to receive his credentials in order to start working and paying off his rapidly suffocating debts but his encounters with the increasingly tense student body movement leave him conflicted about his future. Dated to the point of kitsch, the film limps along like Harry's beater convertible until it bogs down, mired in loud, windy monologues about the merits of capitalism versus thinly drawn ideals of "freedom." The two-hour-plus running time exhausts the counterculture novelty, culminating in the inevitable student riot scene. The 30-year-old Gould resembles Frank Zappa, with a bushy push broom moustache and rollicking sideburns, but is the same safe, charismatic Gould we've seen playing Ross's dad on Friends. Bergen is a positively radiant presence, until she's forced to match Gould in extended shouting matches. Director Richard Rush (The Stunt Man) seems as confused as Harry, in regards to the direction of the film; Harry is supposedly a Vietnam veteran (as the back cover description makes clear) but this is barely alluded to in the film. As such, Harry stands more as a cipher than a character, leaving Gould to ham his way from scene to scene, albeit entertainingly so, decrying both the idealism of Harry's fellow students while rioting against a typically stodgy constitution. A commentary track from Rush would perhaps give the film a greater sense of perspective but the notoriously reclusive director is absent, as are any other special features beyond the "Martini Minutes Secrets of Seduction and Secrets of Deception" featurette. (Sony)