Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
This hidden gem from Francis Ford Coppola, entitled Tucker: The Man and His Dream, is a remarkably optimistic and high-spirited film about one Preston Tucker, a visionary American car designer and entrepreneur who in the 1940s decided to make the perfect car – a vehicle so full of innovation that the existing cars on the market would effectively become ousted. His designs and ambitions were as brilliant as they were uncritical. Setting impossible deadlines for himself and constantly biting over more than it seemed he could chew didn't stop him or break his spirits. But the so-called Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler) had to stop him. Or else they would face ruin.
In addition to being an interesting biography on a fascinating man, Coppola's best achievement with Tucker is arguably how he recaptures the positivism and spirit of the post-WWII period in the United States. This was the pinnacle for the idea of the American Dream – a time when critical thinking was considered destructive and when people actually believed the cliché we are still told today: You can do anything you want to. A mantra Preston Tucker lived his life by.
The performances are brilliant, with Jeff Bridges revelling in the title role. It's a perfect role for Bridges, who makes full use of his bubbling charisma and somewhat naïve appearance. A host of quality supporting roles and cameos (including a surprisingly emotive Martin Landau) rack up this engaging and beautifully shot film.