Jeff Bridges: The Lucky 13 Film Club

0001-60259980Hello, friends! My appreciation goes to Aussie movie buff, Lloyd Marken, for co-hosting April’s Lucky 13 Film Club. Please, check out his site found HERE and start following. We began a dialogue discussing our mutual admiration for Jeff Bridges. Trying to whittle down ten, top performances is a subjective list, so we invite you to discuss which characters or films he has starred which left a lasting impression.

Lloyd’s picks: 

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot


Thunderbolt and Lightfoot: Jeff Bridges is on fire here whether dressing up in drag, gradually revealing the extent of his inexperience and vulnerability or sporting a big smug smile on his face around the opposite sex. While the young actor is unafraid to reveal more about his character as the film goes on, I can’t help but go back to his first scene talking to Eastwood. Jeff plays it movie star cool like Clint with very short clever remarks as the two men feel each other out but the grin on his face says it all, he’s itching to make a friend. What do you think? Did Bridges steal the movie from right under Eastwood?


Starman: My favourite scene in this film may be where Bridges’s alien conveys the feelings he has developed for Karen Allen. I’ve got to hand it to his first scene though which shows his alien getting used to moving in this newly formed human body, reacting to Karen Allen and his surroundings while mute and with no facial expressions. The lighting and Bridges’s performance is so spot on in this moment at making him seem expressionless that it almost looks like prosthetics were used. At one point after Allen comically passes out when he recites the UN Secretary General’s message, the alien goes over and mimics Allen’s deceased husband who is playing on a family Super 8 movie. Bridges as the alien playing off Bridges as the husband-it’s a bravo moment. Did you find Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges had believable chemistry as an alien and Earthling in love?

The Fisher King

The Fisher King: Bridges is well known for his generosity to his fellow performers, each one of my five films whether he gets star billing or is in a supporting role feel like he cedes the films to the other actors, such as Hailee Steinfeld or Karen Allen. In The Fisher King he is undeniably the lead character and has the most arc but again he plays the straight man to Robin Williams who is allowed to go big under Terry Gilliam’s direction. Bridges alternatively is the audience surrogate coming out of depression bewildered by the world of his new-found friend but growing to care more and more in spite of himself. Unlike a lot of his films what I recognize in his performance here is a great deal of rage. Whether it is cast away lines shared with a homeless man receiving change “He didn’t even look at you.”; hostility towards Williams to leave him alone; or redirecting the anger at himself. A modern-day fairy-tale told with big emotions, The Fisher King sports Robin Williams at the height of his powers but it is held together by Bridges. Was Jeff Bridges’s performance understated to you or larger than life? Is The Fisher King still a classic because of the performance by Jeff Bridges or Robin Williams?

Iron Man

Iron Man: Laugh all you want but his Oscar win for Crazy Heart and his nomination for True Grit come after he plays the villain in this comic book movie. Unlike RIPD, Bridges can be loud here in a good way–check him out railing against Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in their climatic fight. It’s the little bits though that enrich the movie like the way he holds a tumbler of whiskey while threatening Gwyneth Paltrow or snatching some pizza in a wonderful riffing scene between actors or riding around on a Segway smoking a cigar. When menacing, he’s suitably dialed down and restrained and a million miles away from The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Don’t dismiss his performance here because it’s a Marvel comic book movie. He’s seldom played villains and never on such a large-scale production and it deservedly put him back on the world stage. Have I made a strong case for Iron Man’s inclusion or what wild card would you like to see him receive more praise for? Jagged Edge? Against All Odds? How about his villainous turn in The Vanishing?

True Grit

True Grit: The Dude from The Big Lebowski will always be synonymous with Bridges, but for me, with his second collaboration with the Coens, he creates a performance just as iconic. Often framed as larger than life with a glorious accent and booming voice, pay attention and you’ll see he is powerfully silent in many scenes like watching Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie cross the river. His last words onscreen are “I’ve grown old.” There’s a fatalistic aspect to the character who has lived the type of life where he should’ve died long ago and he’s seen plenty, too.  With no family and nothing to do except get older, he’s happy to drink where he can and take the easy way out whether it’s shooting first or not burying corpses in the hard winter ground. Yet when the time comes, Cogburn rides forth against four men–old, fat and blind–partly because he is hurt by their words about his eye and partly because he’ll die like he always lived-without fear. This is a ‘real man’ but there’s a softness there, too, like when he tells Mattie to look away before he cuts her hand to suck out the snake poison. Did his performance in True Grit make you fall in love with Rooster Cogburn? Was it too broad for your tastes? 

Cindy’s thoughts: 

Jeff Bridges has a natural acting style that combines a winning smile with bemused expressions. As a child television star (Sea Hunt) he transitioned from television to films and has glowed with star power for over forty years. Since 1971, his early films show the exuberance of the athletic youth. In his middle years, he stretched his range to include all genres and a variety of characters with varying degrees of success. Now he is 66, and his talent and popularity has had a resurgence caused by recent roles as older, complicated men. He has enough accolades from the film industry to retire as a Hollywood legend. Fortunately, he is in no hurry to retire.

A major theme exists with all his characters and might define why he has been a success for decades–even when the film is a mediocre one, and there have been several, his characters portray the bewitched, bothered, or bewildered. They search for the truth. They are on a quest to solve a puzzle or find salvation. As a protagonist or anti-hero, we hope he succeeds when it seems impossible to do so. 

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart

In his 2010 Oscar-winning performance, not only is it one of Jeff’s best, it’s a great film overall because of the performances by the ensemble cast, especially Maggie Gyllenhaal. Did Bridges think of Kris Kristofferson when he created Otis “Bad” Blake? He looks and sounds like the salty country-folk star. I remember living in Northern Virginia and sightings of Robert Duvall were common because he resides on a huge farm at the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, and he frequents local diners. Here comes newbie writer/director Scott Cooper who befriends Duvall, and he agrees to produce the film. Reminiscent of Tender Mercies (1983), and Robert Duvall’s only Oscar win,  Scott Cooper’s script and direction have me wondering why we don’t see more of him.

Bad Blake: [Lying on bed strumming guitar lightly] You know that song? Hmmm?
Jean Craddock: I can’t remember who did it.
Bad Blake: That’s the way it is with good ones, you’re sure you’ve heard them before.
Jean Craddock: You wrote that?
Bad Blake: Yes, ma’am, just now.
Fat City
Fat City 1972

Speaking of Kris Kristofferson, who set the mood with the opening song, Stacey Keach gave a memorable performance as Tully, the destitute boxer in Fat City. John Huston directs and captures the Californian forgotten like a visual version of a John Steinbeck novella. The supporting efforts by Oma (Susan Tyrrell) and baby-faced Jeff Bridges are perfect.

The Last Picture Show, 1971
The Last Picture Show, 1971

One of the best films of the 1970s and the best from director Peter Bogdanovich and writer Larry McMurtry, this male coming-of-age story about a depressed Texan town and the inhabitants who are dying to leave it or might as well be, is really about the performances of the ladies: Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, and Eileen Brennan make it an exceptional film. Still, Jeff Bridges’s Duane, full of testosterone and whine, earned him his first Oscar nomination and set him up as a shirtless heartthrob for years to come.

American Heart 1992

Jeff Bridges plays, Jack, and ex-con who waffles to establish a life and figure out how to be a dad to his son Nick, played by Edward Furlong. The two were a great team and their performances were authentic and heart-wrenching in American Heart. 

The Coen Brother's 1998 Cult Classic
The Coen Brother’s 1998 Cult Classic

Twisted, clever, and endearing and stuffed with a great cast and one-liners I still hear today, I can’t walk past the half-and-half in the grocery store without thinking about Kahlua. A bowling alley is the perfect place to meet Jesus. Yes, definitely, “The Dude, abides.”  Here are 21 facts you might not know about The Big Lebowski found HERE.

For me, Jeff Bridges playing down-and-out characters leave a lasting impression. There are so many films Lloyd and I haven’t talked about. Do you like him as the lover? As an anti-hero? Or the laid back loser? 

130 Comments on “Jeff Bridges: The Lucky 13 Film Club

  1. I will always love Jeff Bridges for making his character in each film “touching” or “touchable.” Keeping them real. It is a little ironic that his counterpart in this ability us also a “Jeff.” As in Jeff Daniels. I enjoyed both Cindy’s and Lloyd’s parts in this review of the Lucky 13. I think I wrote my faces on the first intro to this in March. . .

    • I remember seeing Tucker as kid and feeling frustrated for him. It may be the last film George Lucas was associated with… Nah I’m not going to start down that path. 🙂 Have you seen Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom? I think he enjoyed getting to play the lead as he is often a supporting character. You have to admire an actor who can do Speed and Dumb and Dumber twelve months apart. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the complexity of the characters of The Fisher King more? Or what you liked best about your other choices like The Big Lebowski or Fearless or Crazy Heart? The Fabulous Baker Boys?

    • Let’s talk about Jeff as the man with the gorgeous physique. Which love story did you like? What did you think of the chemistry with his leading ladies? Karen Allen, Rachel Ward, Michelle Pfeiffer or Jessica Lange in King Kong?

  2. Few of our favorite 1960’s child stars survived the business to become crusty old legends. Jeff Bridges is one who has,and in his late middle years delivered some memorable performances. He was never what I would consider a great actor, but his natural,laid back presence was always a welcome one. I tried to watch Starman several times over the last 30 years,but the artificiality of Bridges’ performance always put me off. I finally made it through the whole thing last week. Along with the big lebowski, it is that rare performance of his that I didnt believe in. Neither did I care much for his reprisal of Robert Mitchum’s classic role in the remake of Out of the Past (Against All Odds), and I didnt believe in him as lawrence Block’s magnificent character matthew Scudder in 8 million ways to die.But even when I didnt believe in his character, I enjoyed watching him. My top five? 1. American heart 2. Crazy heart 3. The Fabulous Baker boys. 4. Fat City 5. Cutter’s Way. I also loved his small role as the journalist in ‘Masked and Anonymous.” There is a scene in Crazy heart that is so bad, yet Bridges somehow saves it by under playing it. It is when he is onstage after going sober,and we see this ludicrous transformation from Kris Kristofferson to Leonard Cohen. but even though scriptwise it is ridiculous, Bridges plays it in a way that makes us want to believe it. I didnt love Crazy heart the way I loved Tender Mercies but I did love Bridges’ performance. In most of his pictures, he transmits the true essence of what is best in the males of my generation, A simple honesty, a warm sexuality, and a friendly intelligence. He may not have the flash of a Robert de Niro or Johnny Depp, but nonetheless he is a gem to be treasured.

    • Welcome, Bill. I wanted to include “Fabulous Baker Boys”but was restricted to five. I loved the tri-chemistry. The music is great, too. What did you think of “Fearless”? I like the concept and thought Jeff acted well enough, but I still can’t make up mind if I liked it. I know I disliked the ending. He should have choked and died on the strawberry. I love Isabella Rossellini and Rosie Perez, but their chemistry with Bridges was weak for me. I did enjoy him standing on the edge of the skyscraper.

    • I actually prefer Against All Odds to Out of the Past, but I’m in the minority. I tend to be neo-noir fanboy. But I’m with you about the Crazy Heart. I thought Heart was just fine but Tender Mercies is better; a true gem.

  3. I always enjoying reading your thoughts Bill. Based on other reviews and my own viewings your Top 5 is pretty spot on too. I’ve only seen 2. and 3. but the others come highly recommended. Crazy Heart I have a lot of sentiment for. Recently married I was working a lot in two jobs I didn’t like and yet not having any money to speak of when I saw it on DVD. Driving back from my night job to my home I would often sing “And this ain’t no place for the weary kind and this ain’t no place to lose your mind.” Art can give us hope but it can also help us recognise sometimes life is going to hit you hard. You’re entitled to fall down from it but in the end all that’s left to do is to get back up. Crazy Heart and Jeff Bridges reminded me of that when I needed it. It’s been fun in my lifetime to see him known for a Californian hippie kind of persona and then transform into this country and western guy. Given his first major role was Texas set I wouldn’t be surprised if this is nothing more than a generational perception. As a Robert Duvall fan I look forward to one day tracking down Tender Mercies. I am interested to hear your thoughts on Bridges when he projects anger. As you remarked he has such an easy laid back presence, something which I think meant that he was underappreciated for a long time as a result, and yet The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Fisher Kind and American Heart there is a lot of anger bubbling beneath the surface. What do you think?

    • Lloyd, I think Bridges is a decent actor in just about everything he does. /when he is called upon to project anger, he does so in a very human way that is believable for the character and the situation. he does a terrific job of conveying multiple emotions at the end of Against All Odds.Hope you are able to see Tender Mercies soon. I think it is ten times the movie Crazy Heart is.I managed the theater where it opened i Cambridge,MA..and watched bits of it every day throughout its run. recently watched the DVD and it held up quite well.

  4. I have less time for the performances as he grows older. I never took to ‘True Grit’ (can’t abide remakes as a rule anyway) and didn’t get to the end of ‘Crazy Heart’. I find it hard to separate him from Kristofferson, in similar roles. My favourite performances of his have to be ‘Baker Boys’, and ‘Cutter’s Way’. That said, I like Heard in the latter, and Pfeiffer in the former, and think they both give better performances.
    For me, Bridges is an actor in films that I often like, but not necessarily because he is in them. ‘The Last Picture Show’ holds a place in my heart, but I would remember Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson before Bridges. Strangely enough, the oft-maligned ‘Starman’ comes out on top for me. It was a very unusual part, so easily ruined by the wrong approach. He did it well, and I believed him completely.

    Thanks for a great Lucky 13, and I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, opinions, and the comments too.
    Best wishes to you both. Pete.

    • Thank you Pete, this Cutter’s Way has me greatly intrigued and I carry a certain romanticism about The Fabulous Baker Boys because it’s about working artists. I really want to see The Last Picture Show, I have a suspicion it is one of the best films Bridges was lucky enough to be in let alone the first big role he had. I specifically wanted to avoid comparisons to John Wayne’s True Grit and the Coens adaptation of the book. Forty years of changes to filmmaking and cultural tastes just makes me think of the two films as apples and oranges and so I enjoy them both but I understand if Wayne is your pick. Something I admired about Jeff Bridges performance in Starman was that he didn’t take on more human traits as the film went on. He developed feelings for Karen Allen’s widow and understood more about us but he never stopped being otherworldly. I think a different actor and director might have made the choice to have him be assimilated by the end since they were making a romantic movie but I find it much more poignant this way when Bridges points to the stars and says where’s he’s from or remarks “That our planet is beautiful.”.

      • It is actually Kim Darby’s performance that makes the original ‘True Grit’ for me. I was never a huge John Wayne fan (save for The Shootist) and whilst I accept your point about apples and oranges, I still can’t see the point of remaking such a classic film. (Bridges was also in the terrible remake of the wonderful film, ‘The Vanishing’, and that is one remake that should have never been made.)
        For any fan of film and cinema, and those of us of a certain age, ‘The Last Picture Show’ is a film to treasure. As for ‘Starman’, I am unsure if it still holds up, as I have not seen it in years. But in 1984, it was original and refreshing, as well as being directed by Carpenter, of course. I have heard the sad news that it is soon to suffer a remake. Like Carpenter’s marvellous ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ (1976), this just seems so unnecessary. If I could do one thing with a magic wand, it would be to stop all remakes! (Well that might be the second thing…)
        And before everyone rushes to tell me that pretty much everything is a remake of something, OK, I get it. Just leave the ‘accepted original’ versions (and the foreign language originals) alone. Please…
        Regards from Norfolk. Pete.

        • All great points Pete. Kim Darby was very good in True Grit and I really enjoyed Wayne in The Shootist. The English language remake The Vanishing was not as well regarded as the original and I did not care for the remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Nor was I pleased to hear they were considering remakes of Big Trouble in Little China or Starman. Oddly I can see the potential in another go at Escape from New York but why not just do a new film with a similar plot? This obsession with milking brand names through remakes often leads to disappointment. I would offer that The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston was a remake though and is very good. Maybe then only remakes made by the original director should be allowed? But alas that would still mean we get the bad remake of The Vanishing. 🙂

          • It’s a remakes ‘minefield’ indeed, Lloyd. Perhaps I should just say to leave alone the remakes of films that I like! I am known around some film blogs as a bit of a ‘remakes moaner.’ Just my thing, I guess.
            I could offer these as poor substitutes.
            ‘Get Carter’
            ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’
            ‘Let The Right One In’
            And so on…
            Regards, Pete.

          • I loved the Swedish version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” — don’t forget to add “Total Recall” to the list. 😉

          • That list is so long, Cindy, I would be typing until dawn! I will just have to be happy to be the ‘remakes gainsayer.’ And don’t get me started on dubbed versions of foreign language films. That’s a whole new blog site!
            I expect a new ‘Godfather’ trilogy any day now…Or maybe ‘Don Corleone v Captain America’…

        • Ha Ha, Pete. It’s all been redone since the movies began. Since it’s a business that’s prime purpose is to make $, I doubt your will come true. That said, of course I agree with you.
          Playing devil’s advocate, I think Starman would be a cool film with today’s technology. Maybe.

          • Shawn Levy is slated to direct. Sigh. I’ll tell you one thing, they won’t have a pine tree explode in the background after a tire iron overheats in a man’s hands and more is the pity.

      • I thought the chemistry between the two was the best I’ve seen with Bridges and his females–a notable exception, though, would be Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”.

    • True Grit vs True Grit. That’s an INTERESTING debate. I liked the first film better. It’s weird because The Coens are great artists while Henry Hathaway is mostly a reliable craftsman, nothing more. I haven’t read the Charles Portis book, so I have no idea which film is closer to the source material. Personally, I love how the 1969 works on two levels. The movie is as much about Mattie’s pursuit of justice as it is about Rooster’s redemption. The remake narrows it down to Mattie’s (brutal) rite of passage; a mean-spirited, downbeat coming-of-age drama. It’s just not as interesting to me as it is the original.

    • Pete. I saw True Grit as more of an homage to Wizard of Oz than a remake of the John Wayne picture. As for his similarity to kristofferson, I dont see it, although he has played some similar characters. I would rather watch kristofferson in these roles any day. Crazy heart would have been a much more realistic movie had it starred kristofferson. but bridges did a fine job. it was the development of the script that letme down. To my mimd, a good actor is one brings out the best in the ensemble. the price of this is sometimes being unfavorably compared to one’s acting partners. Pfeiffer and Heard would not have been as good in those movies had they been working with a more egocentric actor who denied them the kind of space Bridges gave them. he blended so well into the last picture show that i can hardly remember him in it,although isaw the picture several times.

      • I prefer Kristofferson too, and as Bridges got older, he reminded me of him a lot. Perhaps it was the facial hair, and deeper voice, I’m not certain. You make a good point about him giving space in ‘Baker Boys’, and I happily take that on board.
        Best wishes, Pete.

  5. Cindy I love how the abs of American Heart is followed by the belly of The Big Lewbowski. I remember at the time, doing press, Bridges remarked how he didn’t have to get in shape to play The Dude which he was quite pleased about.

  6. Great post Llyod and Cindy! Some of the images aren’t showing up for some reason, but you certainly made a terrific tribute to Jeff Bridges! I haven’t seen a ton of his work, but enjoyed the ones I’ve seen him in. I agree Cindy, he has a natural acting style and he’s got an effortless confidence about him and a certain likability even when playing antagonists.

    • I don’t know Lloyd’s pictures didn’t show up; it looked good on my end. SORRY, LLOYD! I replaced them with some I had. So, Ruth, did you happen to see him with his brother and Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Fabulous Baker Boys”? Or maybe “Fearless”? I was curious what you thought of him as a love interest.

      • I think it’s the links that didn’t show up. Yeah I’ve seen him in Fabulous Baker Boys, but all I remember was Le Pfeiffer 🙂

        I’m sure he made for a great love interest though, he certainly has the looks and charm.

          • He and Rachel Ward were physically perfect specimens with an exotic background for passion. It has all the elements of a film noir, but something is lacking. Too bad. I love good film noirs. Ward was a good femme fatale.

      • That’s quite all right Cindy. I’m sorry too and thought they would work fine too. Thank you for posting some pics quick.

  7. There’s the Dude, of course. And I like Jeff in TRUE GRIT more than John Wayne’s Oscar winning performance. In fact I like the Coen’s movie way better than the first TRUE GRIT. I think Jeff is one of those actors that make any movie he is in better.

  8. I think you’re absolutely right Don. If the Coens do another movie with Jeff Bridges we should get our tickets early eh? What a movie star moment when he pulls his six shooter and says “You do and it’ll be the biggest mistake YOU ever made, you Texas brush-popper!”. Do you remember any specific films you didn’t much like and he showed up and you were just happy to see him?

  9. Reblogged this on lloydmarken and commented:

    I am deeply honoured to be co-hosting Cindy Bruchman’s The Lucky 13 Film Club this month. Cindy is the best writer I follow and her Lucky 13 Film Club posts are hugely popular. Feel free to stop by and help us determine the best Jeff Bridges performances of all time and check out the rest of Cindy’s site.

  10. I’m glad you put Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Starman at the very top — they are my favorite performances as well. He’s brilliant in Starman. It’s an impossible role to play, really. Yet he nails it and then some more. His performance as a man who survives a plane crash in Fearless (1993) is my pick for Bridges’s most underrated work. It’s such a beautifully nuanced performance. I hated, hated The Big Lebowski, so that’s that. I’m much prefer his comedic performances in Rancho Deluxe and Nadine. As for True Grit, well, I still think John Wayne is the man! 🙂

    • Hi Eric, love the honesty. I watched “Fearless” and the verdict is out for me. I thought he acted well. I liked the premise. Weir’s cinematography of the plane crash was good. What didn’t I like? His relationships with the women and the ending.

      • Ah bummer, Fearless didn’t work for you. C’est la vie. I do understand what you are saying about the ending. It’s the kind of movie, I think, that doesn’t lend itself to a satisfying conclusion. I’m not sure what you are saying about the women though. Could you care to explain? I hope that at the very least we agree on Rosie Perez’s extraordinarily moving performance. I thought she was the heart of the film. Anyhow, I tend to like Weir’s movies.

  11. I really liked the chemistry between Jeff and Clint in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. He’s like an excitable puppy and Eastwood just smiles at him in spite of himself. You can see how Bridges draws him back into the game. It’s the heart of this film. Neither one of these guys has really ever had a true friend. Rancho Deluxe and Nadine, now those are titles we have not considered. Thanks Eric.

  12. I hadn’t! Lol. I am looking forward to watching it though and all the other Jeff films mentioned here that I haven’t seen yet. In answer to a couple of questions asked by Lloyd: Yes I did fall in love with Rooster and yes you have made a strong case for the inclusion of Iron Man.

  13. Cindy, Against All Odds was a remake of one of the greatest of all film noirs—Out of the Past. and Bridges just didnt have the stuff that Robert Mitchum had.

  14. Pete, I dont share your dismissal of remakes, although I certainly hate to see fine work like The Vanishing ruined, especially when done so by the film’s original director. And rip off remakes, those that simply recycle previously successful material, are unforgiveable. but I love Douglas Sirk’s remake of Imitation of Life, as well as DeMille’s remake of his own Ten Commandments. One thing I like about the theatre is that you are always seeing a remake. That is what keeps the classics alive through the generations. Since it is a live experience, we have no original to compare it to, while films are a semi-permanent medium, so subsequent versions always stand in the measure of the original.I really hate most instant replays of foreign movies by hollywood hacks. The Outrage (Rashoman), Solaris, , Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and so many other abominations…but i found Spike lees remake ofOldboy superior to the original. And I am glad Huston remade The Maltese Falcon,

  15. One thing that hasn’t been addressed yet is the brother dynamic between Jeff Bridges and his less-attractive brother Beau. “The Fabulous Bakers Boys” was interesting precisely for the way this dynamic was explored and dramatized. When he was younger,Beau was cast as a romantic lead on occasion, but when he lost his youth, he was consigned to the great wasteland of television whlle Jeff, who got better looking as he aged, became a full fledged movie star. The opposite happened with the Quaid brothers, the handsome Dennis having a string of hits as a leading man and then marginalized non-descript roles into second rate movies., while the homely Randy, who never was a leading man, traded on his grotesque features and enjoyed a long career in oddball roles in interesting films.

    • This is true Bill but I would add that while Dennis was a has been in the 1990s when Randy was in Independence Day, he has since come back in lot of good work where as Randy…well that is a long story.

      • i liked randy in brokeback mountain and goya’s ghost, the last thing liked dennis in was far from heaven, suggestions and recomendations?

        • Far from Heaven would be the best, you’re a more discerning viewer than me. I liked his dopey President in the misfire American Dreamz and his President Clinton in The Special Relationship. However my favourites from recent years would be Frequency (the beginning of his comeback) and In Good Company but neither are great films in the way Far From Heaven is. Although Roger Ebert once told the story of a couple who rang into the Chicago Sun Times. They were going on a date and wondered if Roger had a recommendation. The man asked “What do you think of Cries and Whispers?”. Ebert enthusiastically replied “I think it’s one of the best films of the year. There was a pause and then the man said “Oh…that doesn’t sound like the type of film we want to see.”

          • Goya’s Ghost has a great cast and there are wonderful elements about it (period setting, costumes) and it sure showcases the talents of Javier Bardem who is deliciously evil.

    • That’s a great point, Bill. The concept of beauty and how it plays out in life, whether looking for a job, a date, creating characters in books or on the screen. The Bridges brothers and Quaids are a perfect illustration. In the limelight, it must be awful to be compared to one’s handsome other who steals the limelight, the girl, the whatever. In FBB, it was that dynamic that made the film, although, watching Michelle on a piano rolling around is distracting for many.

  16. Thanks to Lloyd and Cindy for hosting this months Lucky 13. Both brought up some exciting points of discussion, and kept the conversations going with their insightful observations.

    • No, thank you, Bill for participating. Your relationship with the industry surpasses most; I learn from you all the time and appreciate your insights.

    • Thank you very much for that Bill and for your great comments. I am extremely grateful for Cindy’s encouragement to be a part of this. I always have a fantastic time when I’m here and it has been an honour and a thrill to co-host. As a writer and a builder of a community Cindy is something special. Every insight and opinion posted about Jeff Bridges today by everyone has been fascinating and fun to read and that starts with what Cindy wrote. I am very pleased to say I co-hosted a Lucky 13 with her and that it went so well. Thank you. Geez, crapped on about didn’t I. 🙂

      • I was thinking of making some Lucky 13 t- shirts and sending one to a co-host as a token of my appreciation. Whatta ya think? Would you like one?

        • That would be amazing!!! But Cindy blogging is not meant to cost you money! 🙂 What can I say? I think that is way too generous but if you do ahead with it, I’m sure all the co-hosts including myself would love it. The real treat though is doing the gig.

  17. Love me some Bridges. This is a guy whose been delivering the goods for decades now and yet I still feel he doesn’t quite get the recognition he deserves. 5 Oscar noms and 1 win and yet he’s never really mentioned in the same breath as say, his contemporaries like DeNiro, Pacino, Nicholson. It’s true that he’s often more of a slow burner and more subtle than these grandstanders but he’s always just as effective. I can’t see past his performance as The Dude – one of the all time perfect comedic performances but I echo Lloyd’s praise of such work as Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and especially The Fisher King. Despite Mercedes Ruehl winning and Oscar and Robin Williams being nominated, The Fisher King is Bridges’ film and I still rate it as his finest dramatic work.

    Great post on an all time favourite of mine guys!

    • Hi Mark! Very happy for your 2 cents. Grandstanding is the perfect word to describe what Jeff is not. I’ve tried to watch a lot of his films over the past month and he has a way of exuding a vulnerability that holds on to your heart (mine anyway) and you go along with the ride, even the bad movies, because he makes a film so much better–consistently for over 40 years–and that’s not an easy thing to do. When you think of the best of them, they have their ups and downs and silent periods, but Bridges just keep trucking along, abiding, taking advantage of his physical gifts no matter what stage in his life.

    • Thank you very much Mark. I agree that it feels like there has been a reappraisal of Bridges in the past decade or two exactly because he rarely grandstands. Having said that I also suspect those who were there when The Last Picture Show, Fat City and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot hit knew something the majority just couldn’t see beneath those matinee idol good looks. I feel age and moving out of lead roles has allowed him to be recognised for the work. I think The Big Lebowski is due a re-watch. Wow Mercedes Ruehl was great though in The Fisher King.

  18. In the days of the Hollywood studio system. there was a clear demarcation between movie stars and character actors, and there were plenty of both to go around.After the fall of the studios, an actor’s status became less obvious. themoviestars were few and far between, and character actors sometimes became leading men and other times took whatever part they were offered. it is during this era of a dependence upon bead and butter actors to carry the show that Jeff Bridges distinguished himself. But he wasnt alone. some of the other bread and butter actors who gave heart to the movie industry in the 1980’s included Gene Hackman, Mickey Roarke, Danny Glover, Tom Berenger, Nick Nolte, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Robert Duvall,Timothy Hutton, James Wood, John Lithgow, John Savage, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn, John Turturro, Joe Mantegna,Gary Oldman, and Ed Harris.

  19. Bread and Butter actors. I like that. You could qualify Jeff in that prestigious group you listed (God, I miss Hackman). Jeff’s trump card has been his physique and good looks–it pushed him up a notch on the ladder.

  20. A definite favourite of mine is Gene Hackman. I once read there are character actors, there are actor’s actors and then there is Gene Hackman. Would love if he did just one more film. Just a five minute cameo in a Wes Anderson film perhaps? I have a strange feeling of dejavu.

  21. The essential Lee Marvin: The Big Heat, The Wild One, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Killers, The Dirty Dozen, Point Blank, The Klansman, Hell in the Pacific, Emperor of the North, The Iceman Cometh, The Big Red One

  22. Great read Lloyd and Cindy. Looks like I have a bunch of Jeff Bridges movies to catch up on. 🙂 He’s a really durable actor and in the films I’ve seen he never dials it in.

  23. Great to see so many comments about Bridges, and to read the original thoughts about him – I usually enjoy his work but a quick detour via IMDB has made me aware that I haven’t actually seen him in anything since True Grit, and that was 6 years ago. He has still been making one or two films a year but it looks like the quality isn’t quite there…I hope he’s still getting some good scripts through and I hope that he doesn’t retire anytime soon. Going back, most of my favourite Bridges performances have been mentioned above – The Big Lebowski, The Fisher King, The Last Picture Show, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Starman, etc., with Lebowski probably being my favourite (though I make the distinction that it’s not his ‘best’ performance). Maybe I’ve missed it but I haven’t seen Arlington Road mentioned; it’s been a while but I remember liking it at the time. And I’ve realised that there’s a lot of Jeff Bridges films from the mid-to-late 70s that I haven’t watched, so that’s a load to add to the ever-expanding list!

    • Hey Stu, I hope to see him do better films in the near future although I will admit I have not seen The Giver. That’s a pretty perfect Top 5 you put together yourself. I too want to check out his back catalogue more. Thanks for mentioning Arlington Road. I remember it as a decent thriller enhanced by the kind of twist ending that was popular at the time thanks to Keyser Soze.

    • Welcome back, Stu. I couldn’t find a copy of The Contender, an 80s political thriller. Nor could I squeeze in White Squall and sorely missed Cutter’s Way.

      • Thanks Cindy – sorry I’m a couple of days late here; I did see it the other day but have been busy watching and writing until today! I haven’t seen any of the three you mention – have you seen those before?

        • I’m just glad you came by! I watched Cutter’s Way years ago but didn’t have a time to rewatch it. The other two escaped me.

        • Thank you Alex, you’re right that a lacklustre villain can really impede how good the film is as a whole and Bridges created so much with little subtleties. I was just thinking the other day about Cindy that I don’t think he’s been bald for a role at any other time. Always about the hair, chicks dig the hair. 🙂 Apparently according to the ‘internet’ Bridges was excited about going bald although director Jon Favreau assured him it was not necessary. I think it was all part of taking an opportunity to strongly reinvent himself.

  24. For me it is all about Crazy Heart. I absolutely loved that film. It’s also one of very few soundtracks I have bothered to buy. I do think we should all just completely forget about R.I.P.D. because it is truly shameful.

    • Hey Abbi, I love that movie too and it did have a great soundtrack. I was not a big fan of R.I.P.D. either and given the source material it seems once again like a missed opportunity. Although my dear mother enjoyed it and anything that makes her happy I have to give a free pass too but I don’t have to like it. 🙂 Funny how falling feels like flying, for a little while.

    • Never saw it, and won’t. He’s had some clunkers along the way. in Crazy Heart, I was impressed that Maggie G., 25 years younger than Bridges’s “Bad”, would make a realistic hook up. I don’t care much for her, but I thought she was awesome in this role.

  25. Make sure you avoid The Seventh Son too. I’ve admired Maggie in a few roles of which this is definitely one. She has an old soul quality and there’s a lot to juggle in that role between falling for a damaged man and protecting your child. It’s a very good last scene between them. Thank you for quoting the dialogue above in your thoughts Cindy, reminds me how good some of it was. Remember “I wanna talk about how bad you make this room look.”

  26. Pingback: A Year of Blogging « lloydmarken

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