1976, Movie, PG, 121 mins


An attempt by director Bogdanovich to capture his great love of early movies in a full-length motion picture. Based on anecdotes Bogdanovitch gleaned from his interviews with John Ford, Howard Hawks, Raoul Walsh, Allan Dwan, and other directors, the picture is a somewhat true account of what the motion picture industry was like before the moguls turned movie-making into a big business. According to NICKELODEON, stars and directors got their starts more through convenience and accessibility than through any great talent or drive to make movies. The results were a haphazard mixture that served as a great form of entertainment for millions. NICKELODEON begins with Reynolds and Ryan O'Neal landing jobs on a production, Reynolds as the leading man and O'Neal, a struggling lawyer, as a director. The first half of the picture is more or less a number of slapstick incidents as the untalented filmmakers try to make movies, while O'Neal and Reynolds fight for the affection of leading lady Hitchcock. The tone gets serious as the industry starts to grow, and the players go their separate ways only to be reunited in a somewhat sappy "happy" ending.

Though the fine cast delivers good performances, they are never allowed to show much depth. As an homage to the start of the film industry, this extravaganza is quite a tribute, but as a motion picture it's sadly lacking. Scenes are shown from BIRTH OF A NATION (with a red tint), with D.W. Griffith actually taking a bow on the movie theater stage while O'Neal and Reynolds cheer him. This signifies the end of the one-reelers and the beginning of feature films. Reynolds reportedly had a hard time with Tatum O'Neal, later stating: "I like children, but she ain't no kid." leave a comment

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