Alan Arkin has gone on record to say that he only did this movie for the paycheck and that he hated the movie, but I find it very entertaining. As an artist this film probably went against his sensibilities, because it is sheer frivolity. I have to admit, my favorite thing about the movie is Alan Arkin and James Caan’s constant bickering. They seem like a 40 year old married couple and it’s just fun all the way. The comedy works very well.
The second reason to love this movie is for the incredible car chases! There are so many chases in fact that Arkin and Caan threatened to quit the production because they felt the director Richard Rush unwisely prioritized stunts over their relationship, and I’m so glad he did. Rush said the film contained “four major chase scenes and over 100 car crashes” and that it was comprised of many short scenes which required constant changing of filming locations throughout the day, which makes it understandable why Caan and Arkin would feel that he prioritized stunts over them.
Richard Rush would be the big reason I think this film is so entertaining…he simply made a film he would like to go see, and you can tell. Ironically enough he would go on to make “The Stunt Man”. In that movie, the amiable stunt coordinator character Chuck Barton was played by actor-director-stuntman Charles Bail…who just so happened to be the actual stunt coordinator on Freebie and the Bean! It’s crazy how these things come full circle!
In my book, “100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts”, Freebie and the Bean missed out on being listed for 1974 due to an amazing car stunt in The Man With The Golden Gun, and in 1980, The Stunt Man missed out due to the amazing car chases in The Blues Brothers, but I still think that these films are fantastic in their own right and deserve to be mentioned in the blog.
There is a very good interview with Richard Rush at the website Spectacular Optical: http://www.spectacularoptical.ca/2011/10/cunning-stunts/
Things to look up on IMDB:
- Alan Arkin
- James Caan
- Richard Rush
- Charles Bail
- Freebie and the Bean
- The Stuntman
- The Man With The Golden Gun
- The Blues Brothers