Getting Straight


Getting Straight (1970)



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"Movies like Getting Straight are ceasing to be tolerable" complained one conservative movie magazine of 1970. Today, the once-relevant but now merely entertaining Getting Straight is not only tolerable, but downright user-friendly. Elliot Gould plays a Vietnam vet who decides to attend college after his tour of duty. Though much too old and worldly to truly fit in with the naive flower-power generation, Gould becomes swept up in the various activist movements on campus. The leading character's crisis of conscience concerns his field of study: he wants to be a teacher for idealistic reasons, while his Establishment professors try to convince him that it's just another job, and hardly the best one at that. He finally chooses which side he's on while attempting to act as a mediator between students and faculty during a campus riot. Candice Bergen plays Gould's girlfriend, while Robert F. Lyons steals every scene he's in as a draft dodger who'll go to any lengths to avoid military service. Getting Straight represents the final screen appearance of Cecil Kellaway, here cast as a hidebound tenured professor.

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Critic Reviews for Getting Straight

All Critics (8)

A comedy so confused about having its campus cake and eating it that it emerges with some sticky mouthfuls liberally smeared over its face.

Jul 9, 2018 | Full Review…

It's an irritating and shallow film that sends the wrong message on college protests and proves Hollywood has little understanding of the counter-culture movement.

May 17, 2018 | Rating: C | Full Review…

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

Feb 1, 2011 | Rating: C | Full Review…

Sadly, despite its radical themes and caricatures, there is nary an ounce of subversiveness at this film's heart.

Jun 17, 2009 | Rating: 69/100 | Full Review…

Generation (hippie era) comedy-drama, very dated

Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 1/5

In the end. Getting Straight emerges as a movie that is more entertaining than it is convincing.

Nov 20, 2003 | Full Review…

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."

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

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