Directed by Michael Ritchie
Written by Jerry Belson
Starring Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon, Michael Kidd, Annette O’Toole
Satire was never an easy thing to pull off in film, but even when your target is as easy to hit as it is in Smile, it takes a lot to hit the mark.
The movie is a look into the maneuvering behind the scenes of a beauty pageant. Brenda DiCarlo (Barbara Feldon) is the director of California’s “Young American Miss” pageant, which is coming to Santa Rosa.
The movies is a series of vignettes, where Brenda has to keep the whole thing going, while dealing with the sexist* and crass Big Bill Freelander (Bruce Dern). Brenda, being a former Young American Miss, is gung ho on the entire project, while most others are far more cynical. Especially good is Annette O’Toole as one of the contestants** who’s been around pageants for years and knows the ropes.
The script is by Jerry Belson, who started out writing for TV, including The Dick Van Dyke Show and Hey, Landlord
At the time of the film, director Michael Ritchie was considered hot for his direction of Downhill Racer and The Candidate. His next film, The Bad News Bears was probably his biggest success, but his career after that was spotty.
This is a funny but forgotten film that deserved to be better know.
*Even by 1975 standards.
**Melanie Griffith is another.