"Smile" Is Released

Smile is a 1975 film directed by American director Michael Ritchie, with a screenplay by Jerry Belson, about a beauty pageant in Santa Rosa, California.

It stars Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon and introduced a number of young actresses who later went on to greater success and recognition, such as Melanie Griffith, Annette O'Toole, Denise Nickerson, and Colleen Camp. The film is a satirical comedy-drama focusing on small-town America and its peculiarities, preoccupations, and hypocrisies. The film was subsequently made into a 1986 Broadway musical with songs by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman.

The American beauty-contest ritual is skewered by screenwriter Jerry Belson and director Michael Ritchie in Smile. The film takes place during an annual pageant in Santa Rosa, CA. The event is supervised by local mover and shaker Brenda DiCarlo (Barbara Feldon), to whom the contest is the most important thing on earth. Nothing -- not even the violent backlash of her neglected husband, Andy (Nicholas Pryor) -- is allowed to interfere with her pet project. Choreographer Tommy French (Michael Kidd), outwardly nasty and cynical, takes money out of his own pocket to insure the safety of the contestants as they parade down a rickety stage runway; chief judge "Big Bob" Freelander (Bruce Dern) discovers that his son is a budding voyeur, information which leads to a silly "politically correct" consequence; and the various contestants scheme to upstage one another through a variety of means (one girl puts Vaseline on her teeth to assure a gleaming smile). Among the contestants are such stars-to-be as Colleen Camp, Denise Nickerson, Annette O'Toole, and Melanie Griffith. Though not a hit itself, Smile has developed a fervent cult following, which led to a Broadway musical version of the property in 1986, with songs by Marvin Hamlisch. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide