GETTING STRAIGHT 1970
Directed by Richard Rush
Set in the turbulent 60s, this is a small gem that perhaps encapsulates what those times were like better than any other film. Why? Because it chooses to focus an ex-Vietnam soldier, played by Elliot Gould, who has seen the worthlessness of war. When Bailey returns to America he goes to school with the aim of becoming a professor. But he also sympathizes with the radical anti-war movement, and finds himself in the crossfire between demonstrating students and his own plans to get a teaching degree. While all this chaos is going on, Bailey is also having a romance with a radical feminist played by Candice Bergen. Not sure of what he wants in a rapidly changing world, Bailey flips back and forth between wanting a conventional relationship and a mainstream teaching job, or total freedom.
Director Richard Rush (Psych-out, The Stunt Man) puts the question on the line - how far are we going to go to follow what we believe when it's tested by the need to earn a living? Elliot Gould injects so much angst into Bailey’s character that he offers a well-rounded glimpse into the mind of someone whose idealism is at odds with "existing" in a capitalist consumer society. The dialogue gets both scholastic and psychedelic at times, but remains snappy and alert. Not taking easy sides, the film is more about the complexity of those times and doesn't offer clear solutions. And hey, besides all of that, keep your eyes open for the appearance of an extremely young Harrison Ford as a college student...
Although this is a movie about campus rebellions in the 60s, it's good the movie doesn't take sides with any of the issues of day. What the movie really is about, in the end, is involvement and social responsibility... and centers on someone who just wants to live a quite life, but is caught up in something bigger.