Smile

  • 1975
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy

Director Ritchie does a fine job handling a huge cast, with many first-timers, in this satirical glimpse of a real beauty pageant staged in Santa Rosa, California. The original script, written by TV veteran Belson, supplies plenty of laughs, but the picture has so many characters we never get to truly know any of them, and the result, while often hilarious,...read more

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Director Ritchie does a fine job handling a huge cast, with many first-timers, in this satirical glimpse of a real beauty pageant staged in Santa Rosa, California. The original script, written by TV veteran Belson, supplies plenty of laughs, but the picture has so many characters we never

get to truly know any of them, and the result, while often hilarious, is ultimately skin-deep, just as the beauty contestants are. Dern is a mobile-home dealer in the town and the chief judge of the contest. His son, Eric Shea, is a pre-teener with an eye toward female flesh and money so he takes

some surreptitious shots of the nude beauties and means to sell them to his pals. When that's discovered, father and son have to see a court-ordered psychiatrist, George Skaff, to allow the boy to go back to school. Kidd is a tired choreographer who has received this second-rate assignment and

hopes it might lead to a rekindling of his flagging career. The president of the beauty pageant is Lewis, and the prudish female chief of the proceedings is Feldon, who is married to Pryor and is as cold as an Arctic night to him. Cutting between all of these people and the many contestants,

Ritchie tries to give us a picture like NASHVILLE with multiple stories going at the same time. The final scenes were staged at the actual pageant, and no one, except Belson and Ritchie, knew the winner, so the conclusion seems realistic. The best of the beauty contestants is Prather, who has to

alter her character from naive waif to win-at-any-cost contestant. Pryor eventually shoots her out of frustration, thus reducing the film's level to something near "Tom and Jerry." Before that, however, the picture is superior in many ways. In 1986 a stage musical based on the movie was being

financed, with music by Marvin Hamlisch. The music for SMILE was based on Charles Chaplin's original song "Smile," which became a hit for Nat "King" Cole. Osborn's incidental music was appropriate, and some pop tunes by Neil Sedaka, Shirley and Lee, and the Beach Boys were also used. Like many of

Ritchie's films, it was sharp but not good-natured, and people stayed away from it in droves. Most of the beauty contest participants were exactly that, and it's a tribute to Ritchie's ability with actors that he gets them to come off as nonactors, which is one of the most difficult things an

actor can do.

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  • Released: 1975
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Director Ritchie does a fine job handling a huge cast, with many first-timers, in this satirical glimpse of a real beauty pageant staged in Santa Rosa, California. The original script, written by TV veteran Belson, supplies plenty of laughs, but the pictur… (more)

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