Smile

Overview

The American beauty-contest ritual is skewered by screenwriter Jerry Belson and director Michael Ritchie in Smile. The film takes place during an annual pageant in Santa Rosa, CA. The event is supervised by local mover and shaker Brenda DiCarlo Barbara Feldon, to whom the contest is the most important thing on earth. Nothing -- not even the violent backlash of her neglected husband, Andy Nicholas Pryor -- is allowed to interfere with her pet project. Choreographer Tommy French Michael Kidd, outwardly nasty and ...
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Overview

The American beauty-contest ritual is skewered by screenwriter Jerry Belson and director Michael Ritchie in Smile. The film takes place during an annual pageant in Santa Rosa, CA. The event is supervised by local mover and shaker Brenda DiCarlo Barbara Feldon, to whom the contest is the most important thing on earth. Nothing -- not even the violent backlash of her neglected husband, Andy Nicholas Pryor -- is allowed to interfere with her pet project. Choreographer Tommy French Michael Kidd, outwardly nasty and cynical, takes money out of his own pocket to insure the safety of the contestants as they parade down a rickety stage runway; chief judge "Big Bob" Freelander Bruce Dern discovers that his son is a budding voyeur, information which leads to a silly "politically correct" consequence; and the various contestants scheme to upstage one another through a variety of means one girl puts Vaseline on her teeth to assure a gleaming smile. Among the contestants are such stars-to-be as Colleen Camp, Denise Nickerson, Annette O'Toole, and Melanie Griffith. Though not a hit itself, Smile has developed a fervent cult following, which led to a Broadway musical version of the property in 1986, with songs by Marvin Hamlisch.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
Only in the '70s could a film like Smile be produced, and only in the '70s could a film as groundbreaking and influential get lost in the shuffle of other groundbreaking, influential "director's" pictures. Released the same year as Robert Altman's masterpiece Nashville, Michael Ritchie's satire presents a similar, loose-ensemble take on one of the hallmarks of Americana, in this instance, the beauty pageant. Helmed from a script by sitcom writer Jerry Belson, Smile is by far the more unassuming of the two movies, but it has just as much on its mind. Class, race, sex, and capitalist hucksterism all come into play against the backdrop of the Southern Californian "Young American Miss" semi-finals, hilariously rendered by Ritchie and Belson in a series of understated fly-on-the-wall vignettes, parceled out over the course of the pageant's four-day duration. Smile is full of so many droll, deadpan laughs, it's hard to see them coming. Ritchie never transmits a punch line through elaborate setups or nudge-nudge editing, and his sense of humor, however biting, never succumbs to exaggeration or condescension. As it approaches its climactic ceremony, the film effortlessly takes on darker and darker shadings -- courtesy of the two misfits stranded in this gleaming, prefab landscape, the cuckolded husband Andy (Nicholas Pryor) and the reluctant finalist Robin (Joan Prather) -- but despite it all, the tunnel-vision-stricken characters come up just short of epiphany, as they might in real life. Featured at the 1975 New York Film Festival, Smile never caught on at the box office, but its influence could be felt in the caustic, uncertain cinematic atmosphere of the late '90s, in such films as American Beauty, Election, or the far-inferior Drop Dead Gorgeous.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/1/1998
  • UPC: 027616128836
  • Original Release: 1975
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bruce Dern "Big Bob" Freelander
Barbara Feldon Brenda DiCarlo
Michael Kidd Tommy French
Geoffrey Lewis Wilson Shears
Nicholas Pryor Andy DiCarlo
Colleen Camp Connie Thompson/"Miss Imperial County"
Shawn Christianson "Miss Fountain Valley"
Eric Shea Little Bob Freelander
George Skaff Dr. Malvert
Adam Reed Freddy
Brad Thompson Chuck
Paul Benedict Orren Brooks
Dennis Dugan Logan
Melanie Griffith Karen Love/"Miss Simi Valley"
Dick McGarvin Ted Farley
Denise Nickerson Shirley Tolstoy/"Miss San Diego"
Maria O'Brien Maria Gonzales/"Miss Salinas"
Annette O'Toole Doria Houston/"Miss Anaheim"
Joan Prather Robin Gibson/"Miss Antelope Valley"
Kate Sarchet Judy Wagner/"Miss Modesto"
William Traylor Ray Brandy
Titos Vandis Emil Eidleman
Caroline Williams Helga
Technical Credits
Michael Ritchie Director, Score Composer, Producer
Jim Bates Choreography
Jerry Belson Screenwriter
Gene S. Cantamessa Sound Mixer, Sound/Sound Designer
Marion Dougherty Producer
Conrad L. Hall Cinematographer
Richard A. Harris Editor
Leroy Holmes Score Composer
Pat Norris Costumes/Costume Designer
Daniel Osborn Score Composer
Osborne Songwriter
David V. Picker Producer
Richard Portman Sound/Sound Designer
Tim Zinnemann Asst. Director, Producer
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