The Last Picture Show, Starman , The Big Lebowski and The Contender

PICTURES: Photographs by Jeff Bridges

Sharon Rolens, Author . Bridge Works $45 (336p) ISBN 978-1-882593-75-0

Fans of the offbeat star of The Last Picture Show, Starman , The Big Lebowski and The Contender (as well as, more recently, Seabiscuit ) get a closer look at his take with this collection of 119 of Bridges's set photographs. Sometimes blurry, and appealingly casual, these duotone shots fit nicely with Bridges's own persona as a quietly humorous, understated and unpretentious actor. Of his camera, a Widelux F8, Bridges says, "its viewfinder isn't accurate, and there's no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality." The panoramic shots (here about 12"×10") of cluttered sets, exhausted actors and crew members intent on various tasks are a refreshing "inside" view of a world that director Peter Bogdanovich, in his introduction to the book, calls "haphazard, messy, familial, jumbled, frenetic, surreal, fragmented." Bridges's accompanying notes are concise and often hilarious: on the set of The Big Lebowski , Bridges recounts how, while sliding between the legs of the "Bowling-Pin Chorines" on a "little skateboard," he sees a lot more than he expected, thanks to a "hairy" prank pulled by the mischievous dancers. One recurring motif is the Comoedia/Tragoedia masks that Bridges asks fellow actors to make, bringing them back to the ancient roots of their profession: Martin Landau's expressive rendition, with ghostly drawings of old cars in the background, is especially haunting. Bridges doesn't forget his family, either: photographs of brother Beau and father Lloyd are particularly affectionate. While none of the photographs are scandalous, à la Hollywood Babylon , and won't ruin anyone's reputation (although some will love the unguarded, unmade-up shots of Michelle Pfeiffer, as well as the shot of Bridges himself lying pensively on his stomach in his Tron costume), this is still a fun and down-to-earth peek inside a world often only seen through the overpolished lens of Hollywood. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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