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… More 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.
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.