Producer-director Michael Ritchie casts a sharp, mocking and cynical eye on small-town American values in this incisive, extremely funny and enjoyable 1975 satirical comedy movie that offers a Nashville-style kaleidoscopic coverage of competitors and organisers at the US West Coast ‘Young American Miss’ beauty pageant.
Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon star as organisers Big Bob Freelander and Brenda DiCarlo, who give their all to put on a successful pageant, the biggest event of the year, in Santa Rosa, California. However, Big Bob’s son Little Bob (Eric Shea) is up to mischief and Brenda is having marital difficulties, jeopardising the pageant’s success.
The amusing, crisp and offbeat observations pile up high in Jerry Belson’s screenplay, producing a highly entertaining Seventies cult movie that received its deserved full critical acclaim but not its popular due at the box office. However, it is still fondly remembered, and it is recalled as one of Ritchie’s best films, if not even his actual best.
It also stars Michael Kidd, Geoffrey Lewis, Nicholas Pryor, Melanie Griffith, Colleen Camp, Annette O’Toole, Titos Vandis, Paul Benedict, Dennis Dugan, William Traylor and Joan Prather.
The theme song is Nat ‘King’ Cole’s version of Charles Chaplin’s evergreen ‘Smile’.
Ace director of photography Conrad L Hall provides the great cinematography.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4173
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