Smile (1975 film)
|Directed by||Michael Ritchie|
|Screenplay by||Jerry Belson|
|Produced by||Michael Ritchie|
|Cinematography||Conrad L. Hall|
|Edited by||Richard A. Harris|
|Music by||Dan Orsborn|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
It stars Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon and introduced a number of young actresses who later went on to larger roles, such as Melanie Griffith. The film satirizes small-town America and its peculiarities, hypocrisies and artifice within and around the pageant.
The plot revolves around the contestants and people involved with the California pageant of the fictional Young American Miss Pageant, held in Santa Rosa, California.
Big Bob Freelander, the head judge, is a used car dealer. Brenda DiCarlo is the pageant's Executive Director, and her husband Andy is a resentful alcoholic.
In separate subplots, the film focuses on Andy's unhappiness, as he is about to become an exhausted rooster aging out of the local Jaycee chapter, which requires a humiliating ritual; Little Bob, Big Bob's son, who conspires with his friends to photograph the contestants in various states of undress; and the activities of the contestants themselves.
Wilson Shears, the pageant producer, clashes with Tommy French, a choreographer brought in from Hollywood, who is cynical and blunt.
Andy refuses to go along with the induction ceremony, which involves kissing the behind of a dead chicken. Brenda discovers him at home, apparently about to commit suicide with a gun. She tries to talk him out of it, and he decides she is the real problem and shoots her, wounding her. He is jailed, but she refuses to press charges and Andy is released. Big Bob tries to convince him to not move from town.
The show becomes more expensive than was anticipated, and Shears pressures French to remove a ramp, because it is taking up seating. This results in an injury to a contestant, and French agrees to reinstate the ramp and to make up the difference out of his fee.
The pageant concludes successfully, though the contestants that have been the focus of the film's attention do not win.
- Bruce Dern as Big Bob Freelander
- Barbara Feldon as Brenda DiCarlo
- Michael Kidd as Tommy French
- Geoffrey Lewis as Wilson Shears
- Eric Shea as Little Bob
- Nicholas Pryor as Andy
- Titos Vandis as Emile
- Paul Benedict as Orren Brooks
- William Traylor as Ray Brandy
- Dennis Dugan as Logan
- Kate Sarchet as Judy – Modesto's Young American Miss
- Joan Prather as Robin – Antelope Valley's Young American Miss
- Denise Nickerson as Shirley – San Diego's Young American Miss
- Melanie Griffith as Karen – Simi Valley's Young American Miss
- Annette O'Toole as Doria – Anaheim's Young American Miss
- Maria O'Brien as Maria – Salinas's Young American Miss
- Colleen Camp as Connie – Imperial Valley's Young American Miss
- Carol Ann Williams as Helga – Vacaville's Young American Miss
- Shawn Christianson as Fountain Valley's Young American Miss/The Winner
Smile was filmed on location in and around Santa Rosa, with the pageant held at Veteran's Memorial Auditorium.
Smile was well received upon release, with praise for the humour, satire and performances. Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film a "pungent surprise, a rollicking satire that misses few of the obvious targets, but without dehumanizing the victims It's an especially American kind of social comedy in the way that great good humor sometimes is used to reveal unpleasant facts instead of burying them." Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying that though "Ritchie has so many targets that he misses some and never quite gets back to others," the film still "does a good job of working over the hypocrisy and sexism of a typical beauty pageant." John Simon described Smile as 'funny, sobering, and strong'.
In 2014, Indiewire listed Smile as one of the "ten great overlooked films from the 1970s." Indiewire said the film was "overlooked even within Ritchie’s canon: a gentle, occasionally caustic but mostly warm satire." Indiewire called the performances "uniformly top-notch," and said "Subsequent beauty-pageant movies like Drop Dead Gorgeous and Little Miss Sunshine have tended to feel like pale imitations next to it.
- Vincent Canby (9 October 1975). "'Smile,' a Film Satire on Having Fun". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
- Roger Ebert (1 January 1975). "Smile". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- Simon, John (1982). Reverse Angle: A Decade of American Film. Crown Publishers Inc. p. 204. ISBN 9780517544716.
- "10 Great Overlooked Films From The 1970s". IndieWire. 2014-04-24. Retrieved 2019-11-01.
- "Smile (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. 1 January 1975. Retrieved 9 September 2019.