|SMILE (director: Michael Ritchie; screenwriters: Jerry Belson; cinematographer: Conrad Hall; editor: Richard Harris; music: Charles Chaplin, LeRoy Holmes, Daniel Orsborn, Will Schaefer; cast: Bruce Dern (Big Bob Freelander), Barbara Feldon (Brenda), Michael Kidd (Tommy French), Geoffrey Lewis (Wilson Shears), Nicholas Pryor (Andy DiCarlo), Dick McGarvin (Ted Farley), Joan Prather (Robin), Eric Shea ("Little Bob" Freelander), George Skaff (Doctor Malvert), Annette O'Toole (contestant), Melanie Griffith (contestant); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Michael Ritchie; UA; 1975)|
|"Goes easy on everyone it skewers."
by Dennis Schwartz
Ritchie ("Downhill Racer"/"Prime
Cut"/"The Candidate") helms a scalding satire on
beauty contests and the emptiness of American pop
culture. In the end it goes easy on everyone it
skewers. It's cleverly written by Jerry Belson.
setting is in the small town of Santa Rosa,
California. The town annually sponsors a Young Miss
America pageant for high school girls across the
state. It's supervised by Brenda DiCarlo (Barbara
Feldon), a former pageant winner, now a
middle-aged woman in a loveless marriage to the
disgruntled alcoholic, the neglected hubby, Andy (Nicholas
Pryor). For Brenda, this pageant is the most
important thing in her life.
Over twenty teenage contestants gather in Santa Rosa for the three-day event, and go through rehearsals under the direction of the cynical Hollywood choreographer Tommy French (Michael Kidd). The chief judge is the upbeat car salesman, Big Bob Freelander (Bruce Dern). Geoffrey Lewis is a hoot as the pageant president. Among the hopeful contestants are Annette O'Toole and Melanie Griffith.
REVIEWED ON 1/3/2016 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ