This movie was one of my favorite discoveries a few years back. It's a Carl Reiner movie and he made it between OH GOD and THE JERK. The latter is seen as a bonafide classic these days while the former is still remembered for its star and his iconic role. THE ONE AND ONLY seems to have been forgotten though and that's a shame cause I think it's pretty interesting. Henry Winkler headlines the movie and he acts the crap out of it. Don't get me wrong, it's not particularly a prestige picture, but he still does a great job with this character. He's an actor in 1951 named Andy Schmidt. While he's coasting through his last year of college on his charm and aggressive charisma, he meets Mary Crawford (played by Kim Darby) and finds himself head over heels smitten with her. He does his best to charm her off her feet and succeeds via some ridiculously romantic tenacity. Kim Darby is probably best remembered as John Cusack's mom in BETTER OFF DEAD, but she really made some great movies in her earlier years. Between this, THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT and DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, she will quickly become a favorite for you. Anyway, Andy Schmidt finds it hard to get acting work after college (he's a bit difficult to work with) and he ends up becoming a professional wrestler. It may sound odd , but it's a genuinely funny, dramatic and touching film. Winkler reminds me slightly of an older Max Fischer type if he had more of a focus on acting. It's that kind of quirky character and Henry Winkler kills it. This movie is a must watch and I couldn't be happier to have it on Blu-ray. It would make a good double bill with another Olive Films Blu-ray favorite of mine - A NEW LEAF. Both are offbeat, idiosyncratic romances which could most likely have only come out in the 1970s. Also, if you're only used to a specific kind of Henry Winkler performance/character, this will allow you to see how comedically (and dramatically) capable he can be.
THE END (1978; Burt Reynolds)
Speaking of movies that could have only been made in the 70s, if you were to tell me that Burt Reynolds made an R-rated comedy about suicide and that he directed it as well, it would seem a little unbelievable to me. I'm a big fan of context, so let's set some up for Burt Reynolds in 1978. He had already made WHITE LIGHTNING and GATOR (which he directed) and was rolling off the success of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT in 1977 on to THE END and HOOPER in 1978. THE END is a very interesting movie in Burt's filmography, both as a director and actor. He would go on to direct SHARKY'S MACHINE in 1981 and STICK in 1985, but both of those (as much as I like them) are pretty standard Burt Reynolds action films for the most part. THE END is different in that it is a comedy of course, but it's a comedy of awkwardness and uncomfortable scenarios. The movie opens with an scene of Burt being told he has very little time left to live (this news is delivered delightfully by the great Norman Fell). Burt sets himself up for a joke where he says he can handle the truth of the situation, but then bursts out crying when he's given the news. That scene is followed by a darkly humorous one in which Burt walks into a crowded elevator and starts weeping. Everyone bails out on the next floor and he's left alone. It's both hilarious and sad at the same time. It's neat to see Burt trying to play against his macho persona and have some much bawling in the first ten minutes of the thing. Tonally, it starts to be reminiscent of some directors I love. The feel of the movie lands somewhere between Albert Brooks and Woody Allen for me. It's not on par with the work those guys were doing around this time, but that should give you a sense of how offbeat this was for Burt Reynolds at the time it came out. It might be a little more Carl Reiner-y too (and Carl Reiner makes an appearance in this movie as well).As with a lot of movies directed by actors, they are able to bring in some amazingly talented people to help them out. Burt called upon his friend and oft-collaborator Dom Deluise to play a big part in this one and that is only a good thing as far as I'm concerned. The fact that Burt and Dom were friends and in so many movies together has always been a little baffling to me, but I love the way that they play off of each other. The rest of the cast includes Sally Field, Strother Martin, David Steinberg, Joanne Woodward, Myrna Loy(!), Kristy McNichol, Robby Benson, James Best and Pat O'Brien. Basically Burt's character wanders through one odd encounter after another meeting various colorful characters as he scrambles about the city trying to get some closure with his impending demise. At one point he visits a church to give his last confession to a young priest (played by Robby Benson) to rather hilarious results. It's not all a goof though and there are some tender moments sprinkled throughout. It's a movie that Burt does not get enough credit for.