The Kentucky Fried Movie

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The Kentucky Fried Movie
high top sneaker, with a statue of liberty sticking out of it, and a rocket pack on the side.
The Kentucky Fried Movie theatrical poster
Directed by John Landis
Produced by Kim Jorgensen
Larry Kostroff
Robert K. Weiss
Written by Jim Abrahams
David Zucker
Jerry Zucker
Starring Bill Bixby
George Lazenby
Evan C. Kim
Bong Soo Han
Donald Sutherland
Henry Gibson
Barry Dennen
Agneta Eckemyr
Music by Igo Kantor
Cinematography Robert E. Collins
Stephen M. Katz
Edited by George Folsey Jr.
Distributed by United Film Distribution
Anchor Bay Entertainment (DVD)
Release date(s)
  • August 10, 1977 (1977-08-10)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $650,000
Box office $20,000,000 (Global) = $15,000,000 (USA) + $5,000,000 (Non-USA)

The Kentucky Fried Movie is an 1977 American anthology comedy film, released in 1977 and directed by John Landis.

The film's writers were the team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who would go on to write and direct Airplane!, Top Secret! and the Police Squad! television series and its film spinoffs, The Naked Gun films. The "feature presentation" portion of the film stars Evan C. Kim and hapkido Grand Master Bong Soo Han.

Among the numerous cameo stars were George Lazenby, Bill Bixby, Henry Gibson, Barry Dennen, Donald Sutherland, Tony Dow, Stephen Bishop, and the voice of Shadoe Stevens. According to David Zucker in the DVD commentary track, David Letterman auditioned for the role of the newscaster, but was not selected. The film also features many former members of The Groundlings theater, as well as some from The Second City.

The Kentucky Fried Movie marked the first film appearances of a number of actors who later became famous as well as being the vehicle that launched the careers of the Zucker brothers, Abrahams and Landis. It was Landis' work on this film that was largely responsible for him being recommended to direct National Lampoon's Animal House in 1978.[1]

Production-background[edit]

David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams made the rounds of the Hollywood studios and were rejected by all of them, being told that "audiences didn't like movies composed of sketches." Since the three believed in their material, which they had honed in front of the audiences in their 140-seat improvisational troupe billed as Kentucky Fried Theater, they decided to make the movie on their own.[2]

A wealthy real estate investor offered to finance the film if they would write a script. After completion of the screenplay, the investor had second thoughts and decided he did not want to finance the film alone. He said he would try to attract other investors if the three filmmakers would produce a ten-minute excerpt of the film, which he would finance. When the trio presented a budget of the short film to the investor, he backed out.[3]

The prospect of shooting the short film so excited the trio that they decided to pay for it themselves. The ten-minute film cost $35,000, and with it they again approached the Hollywood studios. This time they attached young director John Landis to the project. However, once again, the studios turned them down.[3]

Curious as to how audiences would react to their film, they persuaded exhibitor Kim Jorgenson to show it before one of his regularly scheduled movies. When Jorgenson saw the short, he "fell out of his seat laughing." He was so impressed that he offered to raise the money needed to make the full-length version. By having his fellow exhibitors screen the film before audiences in their theaters, he convinced them to put up the $650,000 budget. When released, Kentucky Fried Movie was a box-office success, returning domestic American rentals of $7.1 million.[3]

Description[edit]

The Kentucky Fried Movie consists of largely unconnected sketches that parody various film genres, including exploitation films. The film's longest segment spoofs early kung-fu films, primarily Enter the Dragon; its title, A Fistful of Yen, refers to A Fistful of Dollars. Parodies of disaster films (That's Armageddon), blaxplotation (Cleopatra Schwartz) and softcore porn/women-in-prison films (Catholic High School Girls in Trouble) are presented as "Coming Attraction" trailers. The fictional films are said to have been produced by "Samuel L. Bronkowitz" (a conflation of Samuel Bronston and Joseph L. Mankiewicz). The sketch See You Next Wednesday mocks theater-based gimmicks like Sensurround by depicting a dramatic film presented in "Feel-a-Round", which involves an usher physically accosting the patron. Other sketches spoof TV commercials and programs, news broadcasts, and classroom educational films. The city of Detroit and its high crime rate are a running gag portraying the city as Hell on Earth; in "A Fistful of Yen", the evil drug lord orders a captured CIA agent to be sent to Detroit, and the agent screams and begs to be killed instead.

Amazon Women on the Moon is considered to be a sequel to this movie, due to the similar style of the two films and John Landis' involvement as a director of a few sketches.[citation needed] The "feature" in Amazon Women on the Moon makes reference to this film by crediting it as a Samuel L. Bronkowitz production.[citation needed] The French titles show a closer connection: the French name for Amazon Women translates to The Cheeseburger Movie, while The Kentucky Fried Movie is The Hamburger Movie.[citation needed]

This film is number 87 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies,"[1] and is considered, along with The Groove Tube,[citation needed] to be one of the groundbreaking films of the entire spoof and mockumentary genres of filmmaking.

Sketch selection[edit]

The film's credits listed the sketches incorrectly, as the writers changed the order after the credits had been written. On second cut they corrected this error. The following list is in the running order used in the film: Sketch Details

  1. 11 O'Clock News (Part 1) (:04)
  2. Argon Oil (1:13)
  3. A.M. Today (6:05)
  4. His New Car (:24)
  5. Catholic High School Girls in Trouble (2:00)
  6. See You Next Wednesday in Feel-a-Round (4:52)
  7. Nytex P.M. (:35)
  8. High Adventure (3:01)
  9. 11 O'Clock News (Part 2) (:05)
  10. Headache Clinic (:40)
  11. Household Odors (:40)
  12. The Wonderful World of Sex (4:55)
  13. A Fistful of Yen (31:34)
  14. Willer Beer (:58)
  15. 11 O'Clock News (Part 3) (:05)
  16. Scot Free (:58)
  17. That's Armageddon (2:17)
  18. United Appeal for the Dead (1:42)
  19. "Courtroom" (Part 1) (4:35)
  20. Nesson Oil (:14)
  21. "Courtroom" (Part 2) (3:02)
  22. Cleopatra Schwartz (1:24)
  23. Zinc Oxide and You (1:59)
  24. "Danger Seekers" (1:02)
  25. Eyewitness News (4:24)
  26. 11 O'Clock News (Part 4) (:09)

Sketch details[edit]

Release[edit]

The film was released on DVD in the U.S. by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2000. This release is presented in widescreen (1.85:1) aspect ratio and full-frame (1.33:1), and includes commentary by John Landis; writers Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, and Jim Abrahams; and producer Robert K. Weiss.

On July 4, 2011 Arrow Video in the United Kingdom released a two-disc special edition DVD, with the following special features:

  • Feature presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and full-frame 1.33:1
  • Original mono audio
  • The audio recollections of director John Landis; writers Jerry Zucker, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams; and producer Robert K. Weiss
  • A conversation with David and Jerry Zucker: A feature length interview with the co-creators of The Kentucky Fried Movie, Airplane! and The Naked Gun about their lives and career, from growing up and starting out in show business to their comedy influences and spoofing Midnight Cowboy
  • Jerry Zucker's on-set home video shot during the making of the movie
  • Behind-the-scenes photo gallery
  • Original trailer
  • Four-panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Double-sided fold-out artwork poster
  • Collector's booklet featuring brand new writing on director John Landis by critic and author Calum Waddell

On July 2, 2013, Shout! Factory released the film on Blu-ray disc, in a 1.85:1 aspect widescreen transfer, with the original theatrical trailer, and, ported over from the above mentioned Arrow DVD release: the filmmaker commentary, and the Zucker brothers interview.

Critical response[edit]

The film received favorable reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 80% based on 30 reviews.[4]

At the time, Variety described the film as having "excellent production values and some genuine wit" but also noted that film was juvenile and tasteless.[5]

J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters wrote "The Kentucky Fried Movie is, however, profane, experimental, violent, silly, hilarious and occasionally quite sexually explicit (all of which surely helped its success over the years)."[6]

Writing three decades later in 2008, Ian Nathan of Empire Magazine called the film "occasionally funny" ... "in a scattershot and puerile way" and he concludes the film is "smart and satirical but very dated".[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nicole Cammorata and James Duffy (July 25, 2006). "Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  2. ^ Litwak, Mark (1986). Reel Power: The Struggle For Influence and Success in the New Hollywood. New York: William Morrow & Company. p. 135. ISBN 0-688-04889-7. 
  3. ^ a b c Litwak, p. 136
  4. ^ "The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 
  5. ^ "The Kentucky Fried Movie". Variety. 
  6. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (July 30, 2013). "In 'The Kentucky Fried Movie' Expect the Unexpected & Exercise Total Concentwation on the Isle of Lu". PopMatters. 
  7. ^ Nathan, Ian (2008). "The Kentucky Fried Movie". Empire Magazine. 

External links[edit]