Smile (1975 film)
Original Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Michael Ritchie|
|Produced by||Michael Ritchie|
|Screenplay by||Jerry Belson|
|Music by||Dan Orsborn|
|Cinematography||Conrad L. Hall|
|Edited by||Richard A. Harris|
|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 (Dern), the head judge, is a used car dealer. Brenda DiCarlo (Feldon), is the pageant's Executive Director, and her husband Andy (Nicholas Pryor) is an alcoholic.
In separate subplots, the film focuses on Andy's unhappiness, as he is about to be inducted into a fraternal society, which requires a humiliating ritual, Little Bob (Shea), 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 (Lewis), the pageant producer, clashes with a choreographer brought in from Hollywood, Tommy French (Kidd), 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 ... Big Bob Freelander
- Barbara Feldon ... Brenda DiCarlo
- Michael Kidd ... Tommy French
- Geoffrey Lewis ... Wilson Shears
- Eric Shea ... Little Bob
- Nicholas Pryor ... Andy
- Titos Vandis ... Emile
- Paul Benedict ... Orren Brooks
- William Traylor ... Ray Brandy
- Dennis Dugan ... Logan
- Kate Sarchet ... Judy – Young American Miss
- Joan Prather ... Robin – Young American Miss
- Denise Nickerson ... Shirley – Young American Miss
- Melanie Griffith ... Karen – Young American Miss
- Annette O'Toole ... Doria – Young American Miss
- Maria O'Brien ... Maria – Young American Miss
- Colleen Camp ... Connie – Young American Miss
- Caroline Williams ... Helga – Young American Miss
- Shawn Christianson ... Young American Miss/Winner
The movie 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 declared Jerry Belson's screenplay "excellent" and added: "Smile, which is Mr. Ritchie's best film to date (better than both Downhill Racer and The Candidate), questions the quality of our fun, while adding to it." 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."
- List of American films of 1975
- Nashville – Another satirical American film, released the same year, directed by Robert Altman. This film looks at the lives of several individuals leading up to and around a local concert.