Tucker: The Man and his Dream
is the 1988 Bio Pic
starring Jeff Bridges
as Preston Tucker.
The film is about Preston Tucker as he tries to launch his car company and produce the Tucker Torpedo, and gets investigated by the SEC for stock fraud and questionable fundraising.
Though well received by critics, it was a notorious box office bomb.
- Artistic License - History
- Author Appeal: Both Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas's fathers owned Tuckers.
- Cool Car: The Tucker Torpedo. It even has a very interesting gearshift◊.
- Development Hell: Francis Ford Coppola's father owned a Tucker, which inspired him to make a film about it as early as 1973, only being made in 1986 when George Lucas, whose father also owned a Tucker, became involved. See What Could Have Been below.
- Font Anachronism: Type is used quite well and true here. One hiccup is the Machine and Tool sign, featuring Helvetica, which wouldn't have been used in such a manner in the 1940s. That, and Helvetica itself was created in 1957.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: In Anahid Nazarian's own words, "[T]the president of the Tucker Company was a good guy really, but we needed a villain, so we made him a villain."
- The Big Three are hinted as being threatened by Tucker, when in actuality they couldn't care less about a startup independant car company. They decided to reduce competition by cutting prices in 1953, which ultimately put Studebaker-Packard and Kaiser-Jeep out of business.
- Loophole Abuse: Tucker only made 51 cars because it legally showed he had started mass production.
- Misplaced Retribution: The SEC was embittered over Kaiser-Frazer receiving millions in grants and squandering almost all of it, so they punished all startup businesses by putting them under intense scrutinization, even Tucker, who didn't take any government money.
His biggest innovation, selling accessories for the car before it entered production (which guarenteed them a spot on the waiting list) and selling cars to dealerships before it was produced (for $7,500 to $30,000 each, in a total of 2,000 dealerships), is probably what drew the SEC's attention. It is also probably why the War Assets Administration, who leased him the Chicago Dodge Plant note , denied his bids for two steel mills to supply the steel needed for the cars.
- Shown Their Work: Jeff Bridges was allowed by the Tucker family to wear Preston Tucker's rings, and were very involved in the making.
- Anahid Nazarian's research consisted of several books, over 350 articles, interviews with the family, and hundreds of photographs, home movies and interviews with Tucker.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Anahid Nazarian, Coppola's librarian, mentions "Preston Tucker didn't really have an assembly line; there's one in the film. He actually had five kids; there are only four in the film. Our story takes place in one year; the real story took place over four years." Alex Tremulis, stylist of the Tucker, is shown as the chief designer, while actual chief designer Phillip Egan isn't shown.
- What Could Have Been: Coppola envisioned it in 1973 as a musical starring Marlon Brando before American Zeotrope collapsed.