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Written by / 4/22/2020 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

JACK NICHOLSON'S COUNTER-CULTURE DIRECTED 'DRIVE, HE SAID'

Cult starlet June Fairchild as a cheerleader/hippie student in Jack Nicholson's DRIVE, HE SAID Year: 1971
As most people know, Jack Nicholson is a rabid basketball fan. He has his own center seat at the L.A. Lakers games and even before becoming really famous, according to Roman Polanski in a CHINATOWN interview, he furiously demanded to watch a televised game in his trailer...

So it may come as no surprise that Jack's directorial debut, a few years before that, would center on a college basketball player drawing crowds during the “turbulent” hippie era.
William Tepper on the team bus with Bruce Dern in DRIVE, HE SAID
The games and practices are filmed nicely, combining a shaky documentary style with creative editing that went into other BBC productions like EASY RIDER, in which Jack co-starred, and surreal aspects of HEAD, that he co-wrote.

Bruce Dern’s hard-nosed Coach Bullion wants to win games, and his star player Hector, played by William Tepper, best known as Tom Hank’s uptight brother in BACHELOR PARTY years later, is the perfect fit for the role – but only in one important aspect: He’s tall and can play the game really well.
Michael Margotta plays hippie rebel Gabriel in DRIVE, HE SAID
Hector, remaining in peripheral rhythm with Gabriel, his rebellious roommate, like the film itself isn't quite sure whether to center his attention on basketball or the student revolutionaries, and winds up meandering pointlessly in-between.

As the bushy-haired radical, Michael Margotta's Gabriel is the token messianic anti-hero. From heading a non-violent guerrilla raid during an opening game, to feigning insanity to avoid the Vietnam draft, he eventually takes personal wrath on Karen Black’s Olive, who, as Hector’s on/off girlfriend having an affair with an enigmatic character played by future Jack cinema CHINATOWN and THE LAST DETAIL scriptwriter Robert Towne, is, compared to her standout performance in FIVE EASY PIECES, ultimately wasted in a filler role.
Director Jack Nicholson cameo as an annoyed bearded guy in his DRIVE. HE SAID
Nicholson juggles noisy basketball games and the hippie students gathered with Henry Jaglom’s radical campus professor, while June Fairchild, best known as the Ajax-snorting lady in Cheech and Chong’s UP IN SMOKE, appears as a cheerleading hippie: that is, a face-contorting hippie in class and a cheerleader during the games. The only character besides the leading man to play on both courts.

Also includes the soon to-be-famous Cindy Williams in a quick cameo, and future HILL STREET BLUES actor Mike Warren, as one of the players depending on Hector’s talent, who simply wants the team to go all the way.
Cindy Williams cameo as a bored girlfriend in DRIVE, HE SAID
DRIVE, HE SAID (the title from a poem read by one of the hippies) tries really hard to capture drug culture angst and, straying from a sport providing the core of the film’s energy and purpose...

With two leading actors not strong enough to carry either the athletic or protest storylines, is more of a curio for anyone interested in what Nicholson was up to before blasting off into cult, and then mainstream, superstardom: Just think of this as Jack’s “student film,” and for that, it’s not entirely shabby.
Karen Black in Jack Nicholson's DRIVE, HE SAID
June Fairchild in Jack Nicholson's DRIVE, HE SAID
June Fairchild in Jack Nicholson's DRIVE, HE SAID
Karen Black and William Tepper in Jack Nicholson's DRIVE, HE SAID
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