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    Jeff's Journeys

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    The invaluable Jeff Bridges, celebrating his 68th birthday today, enjoyed a relatively quiet 2017 on movie screens (unlike his commanding, award-honored lawman performance in last year’s Hell or High Water). Which is to say he nonetheless contributed grace notes of chivalrous irony to The Only Living Boy in New York, grit and gravitas to Only the Brave and a winking wit to the otherwise over-the-top Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Not bad for the quintessential dude codger who’s remained a treasured presence in contemporary film for the past 47 years, as well as a Twilight Time hall-of-famer. His smokily charismatic turn in The Fantastic Baker Boys may have sold its limited-edition run this past Friday, but that leaves five amazing performances on our label that still impress and reward regular reexamination in 1080p high definition. Partnered with Stacy Keach as a boxing hopeful in director John Huston’s Fat City (1972), Pauline Kael admired that “the way he moves is so unobtrusively natural and right that you feel you know the kid and understand him.” Michael Cimino’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) earned Bridges, starred opposite a prime Clint Eastwood, the second of seven Academy Award® nominations, for a now-classic heist-caper “bromance” having “Mr. Eastwood's wry restraint meshing perfectly with Mr. Bridges' impish exuberance” in the judgment of The New York Times’ Howard Thompson. As drifting Santa Barbara gigolo Richard Bone alongside the ferocious John Heard’s Alex Cutter in director Ivan Passer’s unnerving Cutter’s Way (1981), David Thomson gratifyingly observed that Bridges “is really so easy an actor, utterly candid as the wastrel who longs to be better, heartbreaking in a great film.” He bravely assumed the skin of a self-justifying murderer terrorizing a bereft Kiefer Sutherland in George Sluizer’s underappreciated Hollywood reboot of The Vanishing (1993). New to the label this fall, Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995) offers, as The New York Times’ Janet Maslin posited in her review, “the fierce, leonine presence” of Bridges as a conflicted Western legend, “a beautifully nuanced performance in a tricky role. Throughout it all, Mr. Bridges gives Hickok enormous physical authority while still finding room to explore his private faltering, though it by no means overwhelms the finished portrait.” Building a Bridges span of stunning career-spanning performances is a worthy construction project via TT’s splendid discs of Cutter’s Way, Fat City, Wild Bill, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (offered here: http://screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/31181/THUNDERBOLT-AND-LIGHTFOOT-1974-ENCORE-EDITION/) and The Vanishing (here: http://www1.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/28101/THE-VANISHING-1993/).