Big Fix, The (1978)

Big Fix, The (1978)

“You’ve gotten pretty cynical, haven’t you, Moses?”

A one-time ’60s radical turned private eye (Richard Dreyfuss) teams up with a former lover (Susan Anspach) to investigate smear tactics being used against a gubernatorial candidate (John Cunningham).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bonnie Bedelia Films
  • Counterculture
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Richard Dreyfuss Films

Richard Dreyfuss co-produced and starred in this L.A.-based detective flick centering on a formal student radical named Moses Wine. Moses accepts jobs as they come, often taking his two young sons with him on his work adventures across the city:

… but otherwise sitting alone in his apartment gambling, smoking weed, listening to music, watching T.V., or playing “Clue” to keep his sleuthing wits sharp.

Roger L. Simon’s screenplay — based on his own novel — does an excellent job portraying the sense of nostalgia and confusion felt by many Baby Boomers once the headiest days of protest were over. We learn that Moses drifted into a marriage that has since devolved, with his ex-wife (Bonnie Bedelia) now dating an obnoxious New Age man (Ron Rifkin) involved in a group called BEST (sound like “EST”, anyone?).

Moses feels a sense of rejuvenation when he meets up with a former flame (Anspach) who convinces him to take a job:

… but things soon turn very dark, leading Moses on a labyrinthine journey across various portions of Los Angeles. (The film’s sense of place and time is spot-on; I quickly found myself counting how many locations I could recognize — and there were quite a few.)

In true form for such a tale, we’re not always entirely sure what’s going on and who various characters are, but we get the gist, and it all eventually coheres. The diverse supporting cast is nicely filled out, with John Lithgow as Cunningham’s mysterious campaign manager:

… and F. Murray Abraham playing a notorious former radical:

Watch also for Mandy Patinkin in a bit role (his big-screen debut) as a bumbling pool cleaner:

While it’s not must-see viewing, this well-made film moves along at an engaging pace and will certainly appeal to fans of private eye flicks.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Richard Dreyfuss as Moses Wine
  • Fine supporting performances

  • Excellent use of many authentic L.A. locales

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look. Listed as a Cult Movie in the back of Peary’s book.


2 thoughts on “Big Fix, The (1978)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    The quintessential example of what I call a “meat ‘n’ potatoes” movie. That is to say, a film that came out to little fanfare, was largely ignored by the public and had a mixed critical reception. Even now it remains largely overlooked despite being a rather superb little character-driven neo-noir albeit with a lightness of touch. That said, this does have some very dark moments but Dreyfus’ character is such a loveable, upbeat individual that he infects the entire film despite scenes of murder, violence, torture and corruption.

    This is a topnotch thriller with first-rate performances and a fine vehicle for Dreyfus who is as good as he’s ever been here, he was also producer. The supporting cast are all very recognisable with F. Murray Abraham in a funny turn as the lynchpin to the plot. A former ’60s radical who has gone into hiding but who has become an advertising executive.

    A terrific film that I’d strongly recommend but it’s certainly not a must see movie for FFs.

  2. First viewing. Not must-see.

    ~ but it’s a reasonably successful and engaging political thriller, and the best news – since he’s in every scene – is that Dreyfuss tones things down and is less annoying than he tends to be. As well, though I can’t say I’m much of a fan of Anspach’s work, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as relaxed as she is here.

    The elliptical, economic writing (with some refreshing characters and dialogue) in the first half is more effective; the second half leans more along the lines of conventional unraveling, though the film maintains interest overall.

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