Director: Bob Rafelson
Writers: Carole Eastman, Bob Rafelson
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susuan Anspach
A drop-out from upper-class America picks up work along the way on oil-rigs when his life isn't spent in a squalid succession of bars, motels and other points of interest. We are shown that he is in a relationship with a waitress who is highly insecure about her significance in the relationship. He is shown to be very impulsive and mean-mouthed but gradually we learn that he was born into a very rich family with sophisticated tastes and he had walked out of these privileges.
Film is a character study on the protagonist role played by Jack Nicholson, with his typical bordering on psychosis performance, and he totally owns the part. It will be fair to say that the film is unlike any other films I have seen. Actions by Bob comes as no surprise to us, especially the last scene of the film. It is not a character that I can relate with in terms of his thinking but you can understand him when he explains it during that famous conversation scene he has with his paralyzed dad-
Bobby: [finally talking with his paralyzed father] I don't know if you'd be particularly interested in hearing anything about me. My life, I mean... Most of it doesn't add up to much that I could relate as a way of life that you'd approve of... I'd like to be able to tell you why, but I don't really... I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I'm looking... for auspicious beginnings, I guess... I'm trying to, you know, imagine your half of this conversation... My feeling is, that if you could talk, we probably wouldn't be talking. That's pretty much how it got to be before... I left... Are you all right? I don't know what to say... Tita suggested that we try to... I don't know. I think that she... seems to feel we've got... some understanding to reach... She totally denies the fact that we were never that comfortable with each other to begin with... The best that I can do, is apologize. We both know that I was never really that good at it, anyway...
The title of the film refers to the name of a Piano book for beginners. There is no better person to play a role like this and one could even say Jack Nicholson got himself typecast by playing too many of these sort of roles. This film was quite significant as a breakout performance for Jack Nicholson but he displayed more range playing his role in 'Easy Rider' which came before this. Performance by Karen Black is also excellent as the easily pushed around partner. The only other film I have seen from the director is his remake of 'Postman Always Ring Twice, also featuring Jack Nicholson, and it was just about decent at best.