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Drive, He Said is a 1971 film written by Jeremy Larner and Jack Nicholson, based on a 1964 novel by Larner and directed by Nicholson in his directorial debut.

Hector Bloom (William Tepper) is a college basketball player struggling with disenchantment. He keeps showing up late to practice and playing below his abilities, despite the efforts of Coach Bullion (Bruce Dern) to encourage him. He is also dealing with his roommate Gabriel (Michael Margotta), a barely-sane drug addict obsessed with the counterculture, and having an affair with Olive (Karen Black), the wife of his professor Richard (Robert Towne).


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Drive, He Said contains examples of:

  • Attempted Rape: Gabriel breaks into Olive's home and tries to rape her. She fights him off and runs outside screaming for help, where Richard and Hector both show up.
  • Auto Erotica: Hector and Olive have sex in the front seat of a car, with her clutching the steering wheel.
  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: When Gabriel's guerrilla theater troupe hijacks a basketball game to protest The Vietnam War, one member puts a gun to an Asian woman's head, which fires out an American flag.
  • Bathtub Scene: Olive relaxes in the bathtub, listening to music. Until Gabriel shows up.

  • Creator Cameo: Jack Nicholson appears during the military draft scene as a bearded guy wearing sunglasses.

  • Conspiracy Theorist: Gabriel eventually becomes one.
    Gabriel: Do you know what we're doing while they're parading? We're being sterilized by the death ray. Our brains are literally being electrified into neon gas by this piece of history.… They faked the whole goddamn moon shot in Phoenix! Do you hear that, paper people of America?
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  • Department of Redundancy Department: Gabriel tells the security guards and orderlies sent to arrest him, "I'm sane, I'm right, and I'm sane. I'm right and I'm sane."
  • Draft Dodging: In the days leading up to his induction physical, Gabriel subjects himself to Sleep Deprivation. When the day comes, he behaves in as disruptive a manner as possible, eventually getting kicked out for brawling with a doctor.
  • Free the Frogs: During his psychotic break, Gabriel frees all the animals in the biology lab. He tells a skull, "Too late, colleagues, too late."
  • Home Nudist: Gabriel's girlfriend Sylvie (June Fairchild) sits naked with Gabriel while they watch TV.
  • Improvised Weapon: Gabriel and Olive hit at each other with marble busts.
  • It's All My Fault: When Hector slugs an opponent, Bullion decides that it was his fault for being too easy on Hector, when he would only understand toughness.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: A locker room scene with the basketball team early in the movie, and an extended scene with Gabriel towards the end.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Olive thinks her baby is Hector's, but she doesn't know for sure.
  • Match Cut: Between Hector shooting a basketball on the court and one player tossing a grapefruit to another in the cafeteria.
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-universe example. When Easly is asked why he plays basketball, he answers, "For the bread."
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Gabriel tells Olive that he knows she wants it. She pretends to go along with it so he'll let his guard down, allowing her to fight him off.
  • Outside Ride: When Gabriel is carted off to a mental hospital, Hector runs after the ambulance and clings onto the back. He's quickly pulled off.
  • Sanity Slippage: Gabriel's attempts at Obfuscating Insanity to avoid the draft end up badly damaging his mental health for real.
  • Shoot the Television: Gabriel takes a samurai sword to his TV set, "the instrument of death of our times," then hits and kicks it and beats it with a chair.
  • Streaking: Gabriel runs naked across campus to the biology lab.
  • Tae Kwon Door: Olive hides in a closet from Gabriel. When he's outside her door, she flings it open, hitting him, and runs away.
  • Title Drop: The movie opens with Gabriel watching basketball on TV and reciting the Robert Creeley poem "I Know a Man," which includes the title.
  • Waving Signs Around: Fans of the Opposing Sports Team stand in front of the Leopards' bus with a huge banner that says "LEOPARDS ARE PUSSIES." During the game, they wave signs with puns on the players' names, like "It ain't Easly" and "Lower the Bloom."

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