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
. There are romantic triangles, slapstick comedy, a little action . . . nothing ground-breaking, mind you, but I remember it as being pretty entertaining. California
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.