The American Success Company has had a truly bizarre release history. Despite being one of the most gifted actors of his generation, it took a little time for Jeff Bridges to become a star. He first came to audience's attention in The Last Picture Show and later stealing scenes from co-star Clint Eastwood in 1974 thriller Thunderbolt And Lightfoot. His first major studio lead role was the 1976 remake of King Kong alongside Jessica Lange, but despite being a box-office success, it received mostly negative reviews.
Jeff Bridges later reteamed with his Thunderbolt And Lightfoot director Michael Cimino on western Heaven's Gate. This production soon was infamous for its ballooning budget and Cimino's perfectionism, and it became one of the biggest box-office flops in movie history. The movie marked something of a run of underperforming productions for Bridges too, including Somebody Killed Her Husband with Farrah Fawcett, Winter Kills and The American Success Company.
The latter two projects have a shared, complicated history. William Richert directed both movies, with Winter Kills being a political thriller/satire with a cast that included John Huston (The Barbarian And The Geisha), Toshirō Mifune, Anthony Perkins, and an uncredited Elizabeth Taylor. The movie was financed by marijuana dealers Leonard Goldberg and Robert Sterling, with Goldberg later murdered during production and Sterling sent to prison. The movie was shut down for two years as a result, with Richert and Bridges later agreeing to make The American Success Company to fund the completion of Winter Kills.
The American Success Company is based on a script by Larry Cohen (Maniac Cop) and follows Harry (Bridges) who works for his wife's boss at an immoral credit card company. Tired of being demeaned and belittled by his boss and wife he remakes himself, hiring a prostitute - played by Bianca Jagger (The Cannonball Run) - to help him develop a macho alter-ego. The movie is truly an oddity with a bizarre tone and performances, but after it failed to get decent distribution, it went on a strange journey.
Richert later recut and re-released The American Success Company as American Success, and later as Success in 1983. The movie never received an official VHS or DVD release but was available in bootleg form, retitled Good As Gold. After fading into obscurity, the director released a new cut of the movie in 2006 that restored deleted scenes and a new voice over by Bridges. While it's still relatively obscure it has attracted a cult following over the years, and William Richert also made The American Success Company available on his YouTube channel. A DVD copy can also be purchased from his website.