Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)



Critic Consensus: Though it may not be as comprehensive as some would like, Francis Ford Coppola's cheerful biopic of the failed automotive designer features sparkling direction and a strong central performance from Jeff Bridges.

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Tucker: The Man and His Dream Photos

Movie Info

History tells us that would-be automobile mogul Preston Tucker was a silver-tongued con man, who misappropriated his investors' money and played fast and loose with ethics and legalities in the pursuit of his dream. Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola isn't buying this: to hear Coppola tell it, Tucker was "Mr. Smith Goes to Detroit," a sincere visionary who tried and failed to buck the Big Three auto manufacturers. Moreover, he was a staunch defender of family values, as witness his inseparable relationship with his loyal wife (Joan Allen) and adoring children. It was for his family's sake, rather than any dreams of financial gain, that Tucker created the oddball three-headlight vehicle which he envisioned as the "car of the future". Naturally, the corporate fat cats of 1947 can't abide competition from a rugged individualist; thus, with several politicos in their pockets, they crush the Tucker and the man who built it. We'd have been more inclined to believe the story had Coppola adopted a straightforward Capraesque approach and not utilized all sorts of complicated camera trickery. Somehow, by presenting Tucker in so showoffy a directorial manner, the character comes off more as a sleight-of-hand artist than a bastion of sincerity. Even so, Jeff Bridges does a nice job as Tucker, as does Martin Landau as Tucker's incongruous business partner. Jeff's dad, Lloyd Bridges, appears in an uncredited role as a "bought" senator.

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Jeff Bridges
as Preston Tucker
Joan Allen
as Vera Tucker
Martin Landau
as Abe /Voice of Walter Winchell
as Jimmy Sakuyama
Lloyd Bridges
as Sen. Homer Ferguson
Elias Koteas
as Alex Tremulis
Nina Siemaszko
as Marilyn Lee Tucker
Anders Johnson
as Johnny Tucker
Corky Nemec
as Noble Tucker
Corin Nemec
as Noble Tucker
Peter Donat
as Otto Kerner
John X. Heart
as Ferguson's Agent
Sandy Bull
as Stan's Assistant
Scott Beach
as Floyd Cerf
Roland Scrivner
as Oscar Beasley
Dean Stockwell
as Howard Hughes
Bob Safford
as Narrator
Dean Goodman
as Bennington, Voice of Drew Pearson
Ron Close
as Fritz
Joe Flood
as Dutch
Leonard Gardner
as Gas Station Owner
Bill Bonham
as Garage Owner
David Booth
as Man in Hall
Jessie Nelson
as Woman on Steps
Cab Covay
as Security Guard
Abigail Van Alyn
as Ferguson's Secretary
James Cranna
as Man in Audience
Taylor Gilbert
as Ferguson's Secretary
Bill Reddick
as Board Member
Ed Loerke
as Mayor
Al Hart
as Newscaster
Jay Jacobus
as Head Engineer
Anne Lawder
as Bennington's Secretary
Michael McShane
as Recording Engineer
Taylor Young
as Tucker's Secretaries
Jim Giovanni
as Police Sergeant
Joe Lerer
as Reporter at Trial
Mary Buffett
as Singing Girl
Albert Nalbandian
as Jury Foreman
Annie Stocking
as Singing Girl
Hope Alexander-Willis
as Tucker's Secretary
Al Nalbandian
as Jury Foreman
Ken Grantham
as SEC Agent
View All

Critic Reviews for Tucker: The Man and His Dream

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (9)

The true story of a great American visionary who was thwarted, if not destroyed, by the established order, Tucker represents the sunniest imaginable telling of an at least partly tragic episode in recent history.

December 12, 2007 | Full Review…

The result is a film consistent narratively, confident stylistically and abounce with the quaint quality that animated both the hero and his times, something we used to call pep.

December 12, 2007 | Full Review…

Francis Coppola's stylish and heartfelt tribute to the innovative automobile designer Preston Thomas Tucker turns out to be one of his most personal and successful movies.

December 12, 2007 | Rating: 3/4

The cinematic sleight-of-hand parallels the bombast of its hero, but you never get a glimpse of either visionary.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Mr. Coppola has done things this fancily before, but never with so clear and moving a sense of purpose.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5

If we're offered a movie named Tucker: The Man and His Dream, we leave feeling cheated if we only get the dream.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tucker: The Man and His Dream


Tucker. Never heard of him till I stumbled upon this movie (which was just yesterday). Or should I say that I'd never heard of this movie till y'day??!!! (Take your pick from the one that sounds more appealing.) Maybe because the movie didn't have any moment that lingers in your mind for long. Everyone have put in their sincere effort at every level, but not exceptional. The fact that it's based on real life person who struggled hard for success (and whose life story could have been more inspiring) doesn't help it any because it has a feel of "been there, seen it all". As much as I applaud his efforts to realize his dreams, I still gotta admit that the movie was a plain mediocre which doesn't incline me the least to learn more about him or check out how much historically correct the movie was (which happens more often than not for such movies). PS: I know some might feel that it's not fair to consider a movie mediocre just because it's presented without much dramatization, but that's how the score stands for me. Can't fight fact!!!

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Coppola's tribute to Preston Tucker, inventor and loose cannon, is an enjoyable biopic with some messages relevant even today. While the story takes the most optimistic view of the emergence of the Tucker automobile, it's appropriate, since Tucker himself was one of those irrepressible optimists. Jeff Bridges is fascinating as Tucker, and you can't help catch the fever and root for him, and his car. There's a number of good acting turns in this film, including a bizarre appearance by Dean Stockwell as Howard Hughes. Coppola nicely reproduces the atmosphere and media frenzy of the time, as well as an interesting courtroom scene. The film clips right along, and you get an interesting view of the power of the established US car companies (how far they've fallen since then!) after the Second World War. Some liberties were taken with the historicity to fit the screenplay, but overall, it captures the essence of who Tucker was, and what his cause faced. The film wasn't a commercial success, but it's worth your time because of the interesting subject matter, and a great 'underdog' story. Recommended.

Mark K
Mark K

Super Reviewer

Uhh, it's not bad? I like the 50s clothes and references, but Coppola always makes his films so unnecessarily heavy, even when they're not supposed to be.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

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