Jack Nicholson's first venture into direction is very much a film of its time (1972), charged with the morbid romanticism of the false optimism of the hippies. William Tepper is an earnest jock who discovers that his dream of basketball stardom doesn't wash anymore in a decaying society; his married lover (Karen Black) doesn't have the nerve to leave her professor husband, and his best friend, a radical (Michael Margotta), is drifting into schizophrenia. The only distinctive feature of Nicholson's direction is a certain ragged intensity in the emotional high ranges; his work is much less personal, for better or for worse, than that of his friends and colleagues Dennis Hopper and Bob Rafelson. Adapted from Jeremy Larner's novel by Larner and Nicholson; with Bruce Dern, Henry Jaglom, and Robert Towne. R, 95 min.
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