Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Nickelodeon

For the next few weeks, I'm going to be writing about movies I watched during the Seventies that were either box-office bombs, critical failures, or just slipped off the radar for some reason . . . but I liked them anyway.  It's been more than twenty years since I saw any of these films, though, so if you watch them now and they don't hold up, my apologies.

First up is Peter Bogdanovich's NICKELODEON.  Bogdanovich had a great run in the early to mid-Seventies with THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, WHAT'S UP DOC, and PAPER MOON.  Then he had a string of movies that flopped:  DAISY MILLER, AT LONG LAST LOVE, and NICKELODEON.  I didn't care for DAISY MILLER, thought AT LONG LAST LOVE wasn't terrible but wasn't very good, either, but I liked NICKELODEON quite a bit.  Of course, I'm a sucker for books and movies about the early days of movie-making.  Sometime I'm going to reread Harold Robbins' THE DREAM MERCHANTS and write about it as a Forgotten Book.  So it makes sense that I'd like NICKELODEON.  It's about a young attorney, played by Ryan O'Neal, who, pretty much by accident, becomes a successful writer and director of early silent movies in California.  There are romantic triangles, slapstick comedy, a little action . . . nothing ground-breaking, mind you, but I remember it as being pretty entertaining.

The cast certainly helps.  Tatum O'Neal is in the movie along with her dad, plus Burt Reynolds, Brian Keith, John Hillerman, Stella Stevens, and John Ritter, who gets to utter the line, "Any jerk can direct."  And although I'm no huge expert on the early days of the movies or anything, I know enough about the time period to know that the script by Bogdanovich and W.D. Richter gets things right most of the time.  If you're interested in the subject matter and haven't seen NICKELODEON because you've either never heard of it or because it's supposed to be a dud, I think you ought to give it a try.  I plan to watch it again myself, one of these days.


Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Nice post, Mr. Reasoner. I seemed to have skipped right past Peter Bogdanovich — haven't seen any of his films, as director or actor. NICKELODEON has a fine cast. I remember Ryan O'Neal in A BRIDGE TOO FAR and THE DRIVER as well as a few other films including IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES where a little girl takes her warring parents to court or something like that. John Ritter will always be remembered for THREE'S COMPANY. He died young.

Bill Crider said...

Haven't seen this one in years, but I remember liking it a lot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I really enjoyed this movie at the time. I wonder if our new opinions of the troubled O'Neal family would interfere with that.

Anonymous said...

Just saw Tatum in the next to last episode of RESCUE ME, Patti, and she looks pretty good.

I liked this one too, though of course it was no PAPER MOON or LAST PICTURE SHOW. You should also try Bogdanovich's underrated THEY ALL LAUGHED, with Ben Gazzara, Audrey Hepburn, John Ritter and the gorgeous Dorothy Stratten. It makes wonderful use of New York.

Jeff M.

datrappert said...

This movie was a lot of fun when I saw it on cable many years ago. I do recall that it sort of loses steam towards the end, however.

Richard Prosch said...

This took me by surprise! I don't think I knew this even existed. I like PAPER MOON and LAST PICTURE SHOW -now I've got to look this up! Thanks for the post.