Drive, He Said (1971)

drive he said poster 1971 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 9/10
Visual: 9/10

Great cast, good looking

Story never pays out on any level

Movie Info

Movie Name: Drive, He Said

Studio:  BBS Productions

Genre(s): Drama/Sports

Release Date(s): June 13, 1971

MPAA Rating: R

drive he said hector bloom grapefruit william tepper hd

Be the grapefruit, Hector. Be the grapefruit

Hector Bloom (William Tepper) seems to have it all.  He’s the star of the Leopards college basketball team making him a celebrity around town and in line to go pro…but he has no discipline.  Studying Greek, he primarily goes to college to play ball, and he likes to play basketball his way.  His friend Gabriel (Michael Margotta) is a militant campus rouser fighting against the war in Vietnam and his own slipping sanity.  Hector seems to falling apart.  He is doubting what he wants to do with his future, his open affair with the wife of a professor (Karen Black) is on the outs, and even the rules being enforced by his coach (Bruce Dern) are starting to anger him.  Hector wants to play, but he wants to play by his rules.

Directed by Jack Nicholson, Drive, He Said is a sports psychological drama.  The movie was met with tepid reviews but has been better reviewed since its release.  It was Nicholson’s directorial debut and adapted the 1964 Jim Larner novel.  The title of the film refers to the Robert Creeley poem “I Know a Man”.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #547) as part of their America Lost and Found:  The BBS Story boxset.

drive he said hector karen black william tepper clap hd

I love you…and I also could have given you a VD

It took a couple of times to get into Drive, He Said.  The reason being is that I liked what the movie was doing, but I didn’t particularly like how the story.  Watching the film, it is a reminder of how confusing and contradictory things were in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that sentiment is definitely echoed.

Like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, Hector Bloom has no idea what he’s doing.  He’s essentially made it to the top with talent to spare, but he is threatening to fritter it away by lack of self-control and a big picture view.  One day he wants to be pro, the next day he wants a more solid relationship with the woman he’s having an open (and awkward) affair with.  This is roughly contrasted with his friend Gabriel who in an attempt to subvert the social norms begins slipping deeper and deeper into what appears to be an undiagnosed mental disorder…what starts out as almost a joke turns very scary, very quickly.  Unfortunately the stories don’t mesh enough.  It feels like pieces are all there, but in the hour-and-a-half movie, it the two sides of the puzzle are never linked in a way that is satisfactory or even on a philosophical level.

drive he said hector bloom basketball william tepper hd

Hey now, he’s an all star…he needs to get his game on…get paid.

What cannot be faulted is the acting.  Unlike a lot of sports heroes (even someone like Rocky), Hector appears to be a bit of a meathead.  He has amazing talent at what he does, but part of the reason the story doesn’t seem to connect is that he doesn’t have the mental dexterity to reflect on what is emotionally happening to him.  Michael Margotta’s performance is all out there (completely out there) and Karen Black does a great job with the physical attack sequence which is pretty terrifying.  The person who steals the show is Bruce Dern who plays the exasperated coach who kind of has his hands tied by Hector’s talent vs. his juvenile nature.  There are also cameos by Cindy Williams and David Ogden-Stiers (plus, Nicholson in a scene).

drive he said gabriel naked ending michael margotta hd

Just call Gabriel “Angel of the Morning”

The movie also looks quite good.  It was shot on the University of Oregon which objected to a lot of the nudity (nudity which almost led to an X-Rating), but it has a rawness that embodies a lot of the movies from the period.  It gives the movie more depth than the story.

Drive, He Said is problematic, but it is worth seeking out.  It is short and anything taken from the film will have to be interpreted by the viewer since the film gives little answers.  There are many movies better than Drive, He Said, and the missed potential of the film is the worst part.  With a good cast and a good look, Drive, He Said should have been great…but instead it is just above average.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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