A social comedy about a beauty pageant for young Californian women, held annually in Santa Rosa, and how it affects the locals and participants.A social comedy about a beauty pageant for young Californian women, held annually in Santa Rosa, and how it affects the locals and participants.A social comedy about a beauty pageant for young Californian women, held annually in Santa Rosa, and how it affects the locals and participants.
A comment on the pop culture of the 1970's
"Smile" released in 1975, is director Michael Ritchie's commentary on the absurdity of beauty pageants. The movie takes place in Santa Rosa, as it is time for the "Junior Miss" California beauty pageant. Bruce Dern is spot-on as an RV salesman by day, and one of the judges of the contest by night. Interesting, he takes his part as a judge very seriously. Barabara Feldon plays a former Junior Miss, and she is at times hilarious as she is so intense and regimented about guiding the young contestants through the grueling competition. However, she has problems at home, including an alcoholic husband (Michael Kidd) who also seems to be on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Dern has a horny teen-age son (Eric Shea) who gets caught taking pictures through the windows of the girls changing their clothing, and then is sent to a psychiatrist as punishment! There is a bizarre initiation ceremony that Dern and Kidd attend, with the men dressed up in KKK attire. It has to be seen to be believed! Everything about this film reeks of the 1970's, from the famous "smile" pictures that were everywhere, to one of the contestants doing an imitation of the famous "Ernestine" the telephone operator, made famous by Lily Tomlin. For those of us who came of age in this decade (as I did) it was all so familiar and hilarious. The film is obviously a satire, poking fun at 1970's middle America. It was showing us who we were, warts and all. Look for a young Annette O'Toole and Melanie Griffith as two of the contestants, and all of the young ladies playing the beauty pageant contestants are quite good. The casting of this film is excellent. So check this out -- particularly if you remember this decade with the fondness, or maybe some groans too.
- Mar 20, 2011
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