The time has come for the annual Young American Miss Pageant in California. Executive producer Brenda (Barbara Feldon) focuses maniacally on the event, ignoring any complaints. While her husband, Andy (Nicholas Pryor), sulks, choreographer Tommy French (Michael Kidd) looks after the safety of the contestants. With all the girls trying to outdo each other, tension increases as the pageant drags on and the skeptical contestant, Robin (Joan Prather), takes the lead despite her reservations.
Smile is a 1975 satirical comedy-drama film directed by 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 larger roles, such as Melanie Griffith. The film satirizes small-town America and its peculiarities, hypocrisies and artifice within and around the pageant.
The film was subsequently adapted into a 1986 Broadway musical with songs by Marvin Hamlisch and Howard Ashman.
It's time again for California's "Young American Miss" beauty pageant, the biggest event of the year for Big Bob Freelander and Brenda DiCarlo, who give their all to put on a successful pageant. But Brenda is having marital difficulties and Bob's son is up to some mischief. Could this year's pageant be in jeopardy?
The plot revolves around the contestants and people involved with the California pageant of the fictional Young American Miss Pageant, held in Santa Rosa, California.
Big Bob Freelander (Dern), the head judge, is a used car dealer. Brenda DiCarlo (Feldon), is the pageants Executive Director, and her husband Andy (Nicholas Pryor) is an alcoholic.
In separate subplots, the film focuses on Andys unhappiness, as he is about to be inducted into a fraternal society, which requires a humiliating ritual, Little Bob (Shea), Big Bobs son, who conspires with his friends to photograph the contestants in various states of undress, and the activities of the contestants themselves.
Wilson Shears (Lewis), the pageant producer, clashes with a choreographer brought in from Hollywood, Tommy French (Kidd), who is cynical and blunt.
Andy refuses to go along with the induction ceremony, which involves kissing the behind of a dead chicken. He shoots his wife, who is wounded, and is jailed. But she refuses to press charges and he is released, and Big Bob tries to convince him to not move from town.
The show becomes more expensive than was anticipated, and Shears pressures French to remove a ramp, because it is taking up seating. This results in an injury to a contestant, and French agrees to reinstate the ramp and to make up the difference out of his fee.
The pageant concludes successfully, though the contestants that have been the focus of the films attention do not win.Bruce Dern ... Big Bob FreelanderBarbara Feldon ... Brenda DiCarloMichael Kidd ... Tommy FrenchGeoffrey Lewis ... Wilson ShearsEric Shea ... Little BobNicholas Pryor ... AndyTitos Vandis ... EmilePaul Benedict ... Orren BrooksWilliam Traylor ... Ray BrandyDennis Dugan ... LoganKate Sarchet ... Judy - Young American MissJoan Prather ... Robin - Young American MissDenise Nickerson ... Shirley - Young American MissMelanie Griffith ... Karen - Young American MissAnnette OToole ... Doria - Young American MissMaria OBrien ... Maria - Young American MissColleen Camp ... Connie - Young American MissCaroline Williams ... Helga - Young American MissShawn Christianson ... Young American Miss / The Winner
The movie was filmed on location in and around Santa Rosa, with the pageant held at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999). Miss Congeniality (2000). Crowned and Dangerous (1997). Eric Shea appears in Smile and Yours - Mine and Ours. Miss Firecracker (1989).
Smile was well received upon release, with praise for the humour, satire and performances. Vincent Canby of The New York Times declared Jerry Belsons screenplay excellent and that, Smile, which is Mr. Ritchies best film to date (better than both Downhill Racer and The Candidate), questions the quality of our fun, while adding to it . Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying that though Ritchie has so messy targets that he misses some and never quite gets back to others, the film still does a good job of working over the hypocrisy and sexism of a typical beauty pageant. .
The film holds a 100% fresh rating on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes.