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Thomas Cobb based his source novel on Hank Thompson, but Bad has seemingly modelled his character and lifestyle on self-loathing ballads about drink, despair and decline.Consequently, he’s suspicious of second chances, whether they’re offered by Santa Fe music journalist Maggie Gyllenhaal or protégé Colin Farrell, who has betrayed his roots for success.The courtroom exchanges between DA Peter Coyote and defence counsel Glenn Close crackle.However, the fascination lies in trying to read the inscrutable Bridges in a role rejected by Kevin Costner and Michael Douglas.Having decided against quitting acting after teaming with Robert Ryan in John Frankenheimer’s The Iceman Cometh (1973), Bridges landed his second Oscar nomination in Michael Cimino’s bracingly brutal updating of Douglas Sirk’s Captain Lightfoot (1955).Bridges blends guileless naiveté with reckless impetuosity as the free-spirited drifter who takes crook Clint Eastwood’s side against thuggish pursuers George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis.Randy Quaid were in the running to play Jack and Frank Baker before Bridges was paired with older sibling Beau for the first time.

Forming part of a noirish triptych with Ivan Passer’s Cutter’s Way (1981) and Hal Ashby’s 8 Million Ways to Die (1986), Taylor Hackford’s loose reworking of the classic film noir Out of the Past (1947) allowed Bridges to temper his trademark charisma with some steel.In an early draft, screenwriter Richard La Gravenese had envisaged Jack Lucas as a world-weary cabby who inherits a fortune.But, after listening to Howard Stern, he turned him into a drunkenly misanthropic shock jock, whose inflammatory remarks provoke the restaurant massacre that traumatises college professor Robin Williams.For all his disarming charm, Bridges always comes across as someone to be trusted; hence, his chivalrous support for the imperilled heroines in Somebody Killed Her Husband (1978), The Morning After (1986) and Nadine (1987).But what writer Joe Eszterhas and director Richard Marquand do so brilliantly in this simmering thriller is to make us question whether the geniality is too good to be true and whether Bridges really could have killed his heiress wife.

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