Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

“Everybody’s always telling me ‘Do this, do that’!”

A debt-ridden womanizer (Ron Leibman) convinces his engaged friend Charlie (Beau Bridges) to take a credit-card-paid road trip with him before he skips out of town.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Beau Bridges Films
  • Comedy
  • Con-Artists
  • Friendship
  • Janet Margolin Films
  • Road Trip

This little-seen 1970s “buddy road flick” bears an uncanny resemblance to Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004): both tell the story of radically different male friends (one staid and depressed, the other a flamboyant womanizer) taking a California road trip together; and in both movies, the depressed friend is obsessed with making phone calls to his (ex)girlfriend/wife, while the latter tries to convince him to loosen up and have a good time.

Although Your Three Minutes Are Up doesn’t come close to the brilliance of Payne’s celebrated comedy, it does possess some surprisingly humorous moments, as Mike (Leibman) eventually convinces Charlie to join him in a series of small cons; I especially like the scene in which Mike and Charlie ditch two mooching girls at an expensive restaurant. Even the thoroughly obnoxious Mike soon becomes fun to watch, thanks in no small part to Leibman’s energetic performance.

The film’s title — referring to the days of pay phones, operators, and limited time to talk — is an indication of its place in history; indeed, one of the movie’s unintentional strengths is the naturalistic time capsule glimpse it affords. But the story itself is flawed: Janet Margolin is wasted in a supporting role as Charlie’s nagging fiancee (she gives us no reason to root for her — no wonder Charlie wants to get away), and the film’s comedic tone is marred by both a confusing beginning and an inexplicably negative ending.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ron Leibman as the irrepressible con-artist
  • Leibman and Bridges leaving two girls to pick up the tab at an expensive restaurant
  • A spot-on look at the streets and highways of 1970s California

Must See?
No. While mildly amusing, this low-budget buddy flick (listed by Peary in the back of his book as a Sleeper) isn’t must-see viewing.


One thought on “Your Three Minutes Are Up (1973)

  1. First viewing. (Spoiler alert.) Not a must – a rather forgettable ’70s curio, though the noted resemblance to ‘Sideways’ is apt. The film is somewhat buoyed by Liebman’s performance (he really should have had more of a film career) and it benefits from what seems improvisation on his part. One wonders from the get-go why Bridges and Margolin are even getting married at all. The opening sequence – what Bridges says is a “nightmare” he had – turns out to be just that, and the final fade-out (a phone conversation we hear between Bridges and Liebman) reveals that Bridges is grateful for what he ‘learned’ from Liebman – though what that is is up for grabs. This is one of those low-budget ‘lost films’ that is not a waste of time to sit through, but not really all that good either.

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