Director – Michael Ritchie (The Golden Child, Fletch)
Starring – Bruce Dern (The ‘Burbs, The Hateful Eight), Barbara Feldon (Thriller, Get Smart), and Michael Kidd (Skin Deep, Movie Movie)
Release Date – 1975
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 4/5
Vinegar Syndrome is, in my opinion, one of the best companies releasing films right now. They take gambles every month to release films that may not have ever been available on disc. Hell, in a few cases their release is the only official release for several of these films. Their brand has accumulated thousands of loyal fans and for good reason. They also have a serious partnership with some new up and coming boutique labels that they have been working with for sometime now.
Several months back Vin Syn introduced us to Fun City Editions with the release of Alphabet City. I’ve been hooked from that release on. When they announced the 1975 comedy Smile starring Bruce Dern I had to jump on it. I love Bruce Dern so this was a day one purchase for me and I couldn’t wait to dig into it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a small town beauty pageant with contestants from all over the state competing. While the girls practice their speeches and talent segments of the contest we follow Big Bob who is a locally made business man who gives the contest all his free time while his son, Little Bob, sneaks into the pageant to snap pictures of the ladies to sell at school. **Spoiler Alert**
Smile is not a film most of you would expect for me to review here at Horror Society but as I stated earlier I’m a big fan of Bruce Dern and Fun City has yet to let me down. Smile is no exception. It was an extremely fun film that had beautiful cinematography and a lot of character development. I really enjoyed it but this is one of those films I don’t see myself revisiting anytime soon.
The acting in this one is top tier. Bruce Dern and Geoffrey Lewis are absolutely fantastic. Dern never disappoints and I was not expecting to see Lewis pop up on this one. Damn shame his character didn’t have a bigger role in the film. The supporting cast is great as well. The film is overflowing with amazing characters and the cast does a phenomenal job bringing them all to life.
The story for this one is billed as a satirical comedy but I only found myself laughing on occasion but I didn’t really feel the satire. I’m sure it was a lot more noticeable in the mid-70s when it was released but the satire doesn’t really hold up well here. I really enjoyed how the film follows so many assorted characters without feeling like it was throwing underdeveloped characters at you. Many films, especially superhero flicks, struggle with how they handle multiple characters. It’s a very pleasant story that holds your attention well which is a plus since the film clocks in at almost two hours.
Finally, the film doesn’t have any blood or gore for you sick fucks to enjoy. The film is character centered so that is where the main focus is. Overall, Smile is a film I didn’t think I would enjoy but here I am. Fans of Bruce Dern should really check this one out because it’s a great film. Fun City really out did themselves with this release and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us!
Region A Blu-ray
New 2K restoration from its 35mm interpositive
“Dernsie’s Credo,” a newly filmed interview with actor Bruce Dern
Booklet with a new essay by film historian Mike McPadden
Newly recorded audio commentary by actor-filmmaker Pat Healy and film curator Jim Healy
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing