About a decade after its Troy Donahue/Connie Stevens teen hit Parrish, Warner Bros. sought to duplicate that flick's formula with 1969's THE BIG BOUNCE, which offered a new pair of TV stars - "PEYTON PLACE"'s Ryan O'Neal and Leigh Taylor-Young - in another sexy soaper set in a fertile farmland valley. The giggles begin right there: while Parrish's lovers toiled and tore each others' clothes off in tobacco fields, The Big Bounce examines the amorous ways of... cucumber pickers!
Hitchhiking along the road after losing his job, handsome cuke field hand Ryan O'Neal is picked up by his former boss, cuke king James Daly, who's out for a drive with his teenage mistress, Leigh Taylor-Young. "The pickers call you 'El Pepino Grande,'" O'Neal tells Daly, helpfully translating, "The Great Cucumber." This talk about cucumbers instantly arouses the nubile Taylor-Young, and her pepino fixation only increases when she learns that O'Neal is a troublemaker who's spent time in jail. But she's not the only one who appreciates the finer points of O'Neal's character. At a local bar, lonesome judge Van Heflin asks O'Neal to join him for drinks, and, batting his eyes hungrily, hints, "What do I look like--a nice, clean old man?" Ever on the make, O'Neal opts instead for saloon fixture Lee Grant, who lives with her young daughter at the seaside motel Heflin owns. Soon O'Neal is gainfully employed as the motel "handyman." Just how handy? Well, Heflin nicknames him "Stud" as he cooks breakfast for the two of them in his tres gay motel unit, replete with lavender wallpaper and puce curtains.
Left alone in Daly's beach house, Taylor-Young promptly invites O'Neal over, and before long confides that she was "Miss Perky Pickle" for Daly's cucumber empire. That difficult confession taken care of, she next reveals, "When I was 14, I was selling it to all the boys on the block." O'Neal wonders, "How old are you?" To which Taylor-Young replies, "How old do I have to be?" O'Neal is unfazed that this promising tart is underage, nor does he see anything seriously amiss about her asking, "Did you ever kill anybody? Was it fun?" No surprise, then, that he's all for it when she proposes they go on a neighborhood rampage together, during which they throw rocks through windows, break into a stranger's bedroom and make off with a bottle of booze. The evening culminates, as you'd hoped, in a deserted cemetery where they make love on a gravestone. And this, mind you, all happens on the first date.
Things are less pleasant when Taylor-Young's married sugar daddy, Daly, is in residence. Hoping to gain political favor with a visiting senator, Daly insists that his jailbait sweetie bed the horny politico. "What if I don't play?" Taylor-Young asks. "If I had to replace you," sneers Daly, "it might almost take a week." Having done the deed, Taylor-Young searches down O'Neal to join her in revenge. But first things first: before getting bogged down in detailed planning, they strip, run bare-naked into the surf, swim out to Daly's yacht and have sex onboard. Then Taylor-Young suggests they steal 50 grand of Daly's payroll money. Not yet fully comprehending that Taylor-Young is nuts, O'Neal agrees. They celebrate their resolve by going for a spin in her car on the highway, during which two teenagers in a dune buggy get in her way, and she, laughing maniacally, runs the buggy off a cliff.
Come morning, O'Neal is finally having second thoughts about Taylor-Young's sanity. He broaches the subject of the previous night's crash victims by asking, "What if I told you they're dead?" Nothing if not consistent, she replies, "They had it coming to them. Want a drink?" To which O'Neal, suddenly in a mood for nit-picking, exclaims, "It's 8:30 in the morning!" Now on the moral high ground, Taylor-Young lets him have it: "So--the big rooster turns out to be a little chicken. Is that it, chickie? Don't go square on me! Next thing you'll want to get married and make an honest woman out of me." O'Neal replies, "The thought strikes terror." (This dialogue is all the richer when you consider that, in real life, O'Neal and Taylor-Young were married when they made this movie together.)
Back at the motel, O'Neal discovers that Lee Grant has committed suicide. He comforts her grieving daughter by explaining, "Sometimes grown-ups get tired. They don't know what else to do anymore, they just want to go to sleep." (This is especially true of grown-ups who are watching HE BIG BOUNCE.) The movie reaches its apex as Taylor-Young, now going officially psychotic, tears up the beach house and puts a fatal bullet in what she claims she thought was a prowler. O'Neal observes, accurately, that it was he who was obviously the intended target. "Why would I want to shoot you?" Taylor-Young bleats. "Maybe because you thought it might be fun," hisses O'Neal, adding, "Was it fun?" In this cheeseball classic's unusual idea of a resolution, Taylor-Young shrugs her shoulders and replies, "It was... all right."
For unintended hilarity, THE BIG BOUNCE is much more than just "all right."