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The setting of this film is unusual. The story takes place during the real life filming of the movie "Blue" and we catch glimpses of the stars and crew at work on that picture. It begins brightly. Terence Stamp makes a star's entrance, in a sports car, roaring past lines of wannnabe extras that include Burt Reynolds who is trying to get a job as a driver. He's taken on and soon meets Barbara Loden who plays the part of an assistant editor. Their romance quickly blossoms but unfortunately, like the film itself, seems to have nowhere to go. There are signs of some ferocious editing with several abrupt changes of mood and music and the scene in which Loden shows Reynolds how to edit a film is presumably either unintended irony or a despairing editor's in-joke. I read somewhere that it was never given a theatrical release in the USA and the removal of the director's real name from the credits indicates conflict having arisen amongst its makers and backers. Even so, despite its shortcomings, it's not wholly without interest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This offbeat and interesting comedy/drama oddity was made concurrently with the Western "Blue." "Blue" cast members Terence Stamp, Sally Kirkland, Joanna Pettet and Ricardo Montalban can all be glimpsed in this film, plus we get a lot of fascinating behind-the-scenes peaks at the movie being made. But the main thrust of the story here centers on an unexpected sudden romance that develops between charming, hunky rancher Rob (engagingly played by Burt Reynolds in his first lead role) and sweet, perky and attractive assistant film editor Jean (an appealing performance by Barbara Loden). Will their relationship last beyond the shooting of the movie? Or is it just a quickie affair that will end as soon as the film is finished? Directed with great restraint and sensitivity by Judd Taylor, with a thoughtful script by Jerrold L. Ludwig, dazzling cinematography by William A. Fraker (the slick use of fades, wipes, dissolves, freeze frames, super-impositions, and sweeping panoramic helicopter tracking shots are all breathtaking), a lush orchestral score by Jack Hayes, Ken Lauber and Leo Shuken, a hauntingly downbeat ending, and a winningly pleasant and natural chemistry between Reynolds and Loden, this picture overall rates an intriguing, often enjoyable and ultimately quite touching little feature that's worth a look for both Reynolds' fine acting and especially for the way it accurately captures the frenzy and excitement of making a movie.
Just watched on Netflix this TV movie that's one of the earliest credited to one "Alan Smithee". That's the name that was used when the actual director-a Jud Taylor on this one-didn't want his name in the credits. Might be because of some scenes like that shot outside of a motel room but looking inside that room with the dialogue barely above a whisper as the score plays loudly. Despite scenes like that, this picture-about an assistant film editor (Barbara Loden) on location in Moab falling for a rancher (Burt Reynolds in his first starring role) who's hired as the film's driver-has quite a charming vibe concerning romance and what that entails concerning these two. It's also interesting to know that the filming depicted here was of an actual movie called Blue and to recognize one of the players as Ricardo Montalban. While Burt is something of a cowboy here, he's not quite the good 'ol boy he later developed in Smokey and the Bandit and others during his '70s heyday. So on that note, Fade-In is worth seeing.
This was the first ever movie to use the DGA pseudonym Alan Smithee.
After major re- cutting by Paramount without director Jud Taylor's
involvement, Taylor demanded that his name be taken off the picture.
It's not however the first movie to have Burt in a leading role.
Operation CIA, Navajoe Joe both came before this with Reynolds
receiving top billing in both.
Plot In A Paragraph: after arriving in Mexico to work as an editor on a movie, ("Blue", starring Terrance Stamp and Ricardo Montalbano) Jean (Barbara Loden) a young city woman finds herself falling in love with the handsome and charismatic ranch hand Rob (Burt Reynolds) who is working as a driver during the movie's location shoot.
I could only find one Reynolds quote about this movie and that is "It should have been called 'Fade Out'"
Paramount pictures was so convinced this movie was a turkey, they buried it in the studio morgue for six years, in which time Burt Reynolds tried to actually buy the movie himself. Eventually when Reynolds was more of a star Paramount sold the movie to CBS TV, who showed it is a late night TV movie.
The quality on my DVD was not the best, which may have impacted my enjoyment of it. As is often the case during the early part of his career Burt Reynolds is the best thing about this movie, and the only real reason to watch this. It's the first movie to fully showcase the charm and charisma that would be his trademark a decade later. There were hints of it in "Shark", but this is the first movie to put it to full effect. I'm surprised his career didn't include more romantic leads. However Burt had no chemistry whatsoever with his female lead Barbara Loden, though the blame does not fall on Burt, (he tries hard, but it's just not there) it is Loden who is awful throughout the picture.
Frequent Reynolds co star James Hampton (Gunsmoke, Man Who Loved Cat Dancing, Hustle, Mean Machine, W.W & The Dixie Dancekings, Evening Shade) is the only supporting member of the cat of note.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sweepingly photographed in most attractive color by Bill Fraker and charmingly scored by Ken Lauber, this is a delightful little romance enhanced by gorgeous helicopter shots of the on-location Moab terrain and charmingly acted by the entrancing Barbara Loden, giving another totally convincing performance, even though the character here is a long cry from her essay in "Splendor in the Grass". Burt Reynolds and the rest of the players also do fine work. Despite the array of directorial talent (maybe including Miss Loden herself or perhaps even husband Elia Kazan), the film jells together extremely well. Its two fascinating backgrounds (Moab and movie-making) add up to excellent production values. In all, this is a movie to enjoy again and again!
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