Getting Straight (1970)
Harry Bailey (Elliott Gould) is the education student, Viet Nam veteran, and teacher caught up in political unrest on campus along with his girlfriend Jan (Candice Bergen). Forced to teach remedial English, Harry hates his job but manages to endear himself to student leaders. When a strike and demonstrations engulf the campus, Harry is called on to mediate between the students and the establishment they are protesting against. Billie Bird plays the eccentric landlady. Barry Sullivan's daughter Jenny Sullivan appears in the film, and Harrison Ford makes an early screen appearance as a party guest in this comedy-drama about youthful rebellion. … More
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Critic Reviews for Getting Straight
One of the few Hollywood films to deal with the students revolution, Richard Rush's Getting Straight, starring Elliott Gould, confuses broader political issues with sexual politics and getting laid
Sadly, despite its radical themes and caricatures, there is nary an ounce of subversiveness at this film's heart.
Generation (hippie era) comedy-drama, very dated
Audience Reviews for Getting Straight
"Getting Straight" means well, but is a bit of an embarrassment. As dated as its title suggests, this look at a troubled West Coast college hits all the required late-'60s issues -- draft-dodging, sexual liberation, drugs, race relations, police brutality -- but is undone by its lack of subtlety. Lunkheaded writing sinks many of the us-versus-them confrontations, and star Elliott Gould flies into ridiculous, hammy tantrums in scene after scene. He plays Harry Bailey, a flawed, passionate, self-centered Vietnam veteran who's back in school to earn a teaching credential. You've rarely seen a character whose narcissism so infects an entire film -- it's as if nothing can happen on this campus without someone asking "What do you think, Harry?" He can't walk down a corridor without five people pawing for his attention.
Harry is torn between joining the younger rebels and playing ball with the dowdy faculty and administrators. The date of his oral Masters exam approaches fast and, meanwhile, he's battling with his well-connected girlfriend (an overly tanned Candice Bergen), who's not cracked up to be a radical and would rather settle down with a solid husband and family. At one point, an exasperated Harry screams "You're not a woman -- you're a guy with a hole in the middle!" There's scarcely a conversation that ends without shouting.
But the whole school is on the verge of an explosive conflict, as protesting students grow more and more incensed. The faculty is melodramatically accused of destroying the kids' futures, but the uproar is actually over demands as humdrum as a black-studies department, co-ed dorms and a later curfew. Not exactly causes worth dying for, but blood drips and flames crackle anyway. The Man just doesn't understand!
Shaggy haircuts, sexism and a twee Simon & Garfunkel-esque soundtrack add to the film's age, but historians will enjoy seeing scattered lines from the young Harrison Ford. Director Richard Rush had a spotty career, but later worked on projects including "Freebie and the Bean" and the brilliant "The Stunt Man."
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