The Big Bounce
The Big Bounce 1969 movie poster.jpg
Movie Poster
Directed byAlex March
Screenplay byRobert Dozier
Based onThe Big Bounce
by Elmore Leonard
Produced byWilliam Dozier
CinematographyHoward Schwartz
Edited byWilliam H. Ziegler
Music byMike Curb
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • March 5, 1969 (1969-03-05)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Big Bounce is a 1969 American drama film directed by Alex March, based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard and starring Ryan O'Neal, Van Heflin, and Leigh Taylor-Young in what was the first of several films based on Leonard's crime novels. Taylor-Young was nominated for a Laurel Award for her performance in the film.[1] The film was shot on location in Monterey and Carmel, California.[2]

The book was also adapted into a film in 2004 with the same name.


Jack Ryan (Ryan O'Neal) quits his job as picker on a California farm after assaulting Comacho (Victor Paul), one of his Mexicano co-workers. Jack's boss orders him to leave town—which he intends to do, but not before visiting a local bar to wait for the next bus. While having a drink, Jack meets the town judge, Sam Mirakian (Van Heflin). Jack's honest but crusty attitude appeals to Sam, who offers him a job as handyman at his nearby motel. Jack accepts. At the motel, he cultivates a relationship with young, hot Nancy Barker (Leigh Taylor-Young), the secretary/mistress to Ray Ritchie (James Daly), a local agricultural magnate who has provided a spacious beach house for Nancy. She and Jack have several playful nighttime escapades along the beach, where she displays her penchant for antisocial and disruptive behavior. They soon become lovers. However, when her boss, Ray, orders Nancy to have sex with a senator in exchange for a business favor, she objects and realizes her stay at the beach house may soon end.

One evening, while Nancy takes Jack for a drive along a coastal highway outside of town, a pair of unruly teen-age boys in a dune-buggy attempt to hassle them off the road. But Nancy knows that game; she spitefully forces them into a violent mishap, seriously injuring them. The lovers, realizing potential problems with the law, abandon the scene without offering aid. The next morning, Judge Sam warns Jack off Nancy, whose behavior has become increasingly unstable and erratic. Later, Jack is relieved to learn that the two boys survived the highway wreck.

That evening at the beach house, while waiting for Jack, Nancy spies a man outside attempting to break in. She grabs a handgun and kills him. The intruder turns out to be Camacho. But when Jack comes upon the scene, he interrogates Nancy and correctly deduces that she intended to murder him, not Comacho. Dismissing his accusation, Nancy announces her intent to tell police that Camacho meant to harm her, so she shot him in self-defense. To strengthen her version of events, she goes on a destructive spree throughout the house. The authorities buy her story, and she is exonerated. However, Nancy and Jack decide to separate and leave town—for good.


Critical reception

The film was not well received by critics. A.H. Weiler of The New York Times ends his review:

"Have you ever thought of doing something else?" Mr. Heflin asks our hero at one point. It's a question that could have been put to almost everyone concerned with The Big Bounce.[3]

Elmore Leonard did not like the film and called it "the second-worst movie ever made" only behind the 2004 remake.[4]

Cultural References

In his 2009 novel Inherent Vice, author Thomas Pynchon refers to Mike Curb's score from The Big Bounce as being "arguably the worst music track ever inflicted on a movie."[5]

See also


  1. ^ "The Big Bounce - IMDb". IMDb.
  2. ^ "The Big Bounce (1969) - IMDb". IMDb.
  3. ^ Weiler, A. h. (6 March 1969). "Big Bounce' Arrives". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Rules of the road His hard-earned lessons". Los Angeles Times. 17 May 2009.
  5. ^ Pynchon, Thomas (2009). Inherent Vice. New York: The Penguin Press. p. 318. ISBN 978-1594202247.