Tucker: The Man and His Dream


Tucker: The Man and His Dream was released in the United States on August 12, 1988, earning $3,709,562 in its opening weekend in 720 theaters. The film eventually grossed $19.65 million in US totals[20] and was declared a box office bomb because it did not reimburse its $24 million production budget, despite positive reviews.[3][21] Pocket Books published a novelization written by Robert Tine to coincide with the release of the film.[22] Paramount Home Video released Tucker: The Man and His Dream on DVD in October 2000, which included audio commentary by Coppola, the 1948 promotional film Tucker: The Man and the Car (with optional commentary by Coppola), as well as a making-of featurette, Under the Hood: Making Tucker.[23]

Critical reception

Critical reaction was mainly positive. Based on 37 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of the critics enjoyed the film with an average score of 7.2/10.[24] By comparison Metacritic calculated an average score of 74/100, based on 13 reviews.[25] Richard Schickel of Time magazine praised the film for its exaggerated kitsch style. He also believed the role of Preston Tucker to be Jeff Bridges' best performance.[26] Janet Maslin from The New York Times agreed, writing that Coppola, known for his dark approach on his previous films, "found the directorial range to actually make a feel-good movie."[27] In addition, Desson Thomson, writing in The Washington Post, called the film a "satisfying commercial breakthrough for Coppola," and praised the cinematography of Vittorio Storaro, as well as the ubiquitous approach for Dean Stockwell's cameo appearance as Howard Hughes.[28] Roger Ebert gave a mixed review. "Preston Tucker lacks an ounce of common sense or any notion of the real odds against him. And since the movie never really deals with that - never really comes to grips with Tucker's character - it begins as a saga but ends in whimsy."[2]

Although Coppola enjoyed his working relationship with Lucas, he commented in a July 1988 The New York Times interview with Robert Lindsey that "I think it's a good movie - it's eccentric, a little wacky, like the Tucker car - but it's not the movie I would have made at the height of my power."[5] Coppola was able to stoically accept the critical and commercial reaction to Tucker: The Man and His Dream. "Every time in my career I tried to make, dare I say it, an art film, it never did well."[29]

Despite helming his "labor of love," Coppola was insistent that Tucker: The Man and His Dream would be his last Hollywood project. He reiterated a long-held dream of his own, embarking on a "period of amateurism and experimentation as a Hollywood dropout."[30] One of the unexpected benefits of the film's release was a renewed interest in the Tucker automobile and a boost in the collector's value of the Tucker 48;[12] a recent auction of a low-mileage example topped the $1 million mark.[31]

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