For April’s Hellfire we’re pulling something a little different out of the hat. A veritable sleeper of 70s Hollywood – Michael Ritchie’s 1975 charmer ‘Smile’ is a satirical fly-on-the-wall look at a beauty pageant descending on a small American town. Laying bare the often eccentric and ridiculous nature of small town American life, Ritchie skewers this American obsession without ever veering into mean-spiritedness.
The always great Bruce Dern stars as town stalwart Big Bob, a motorhome salesman who’s also chief judge of the ‘Young American Miss’ in his free time, as well as head honcho of a bizarre secret society.
Whilst Big Bob tries to hold everything together, the contestants smile as hard as they can. Pretending they’re not competing, while sucking up to the judges, backstabbing each other, and showing off their dubious talents at singing, dancing and playing musical instruments, until the underlying sour competitiveness begins to take its toll on all concerned. Fans of Robert Altman and 70s new Hollywood take note! Smile is a still underrated gem from a time before the 'rules' had been seared into stone.
As always, Hellfire DJs will be spinning records in the bar.