NICKELODEON (1976)

There's a scene in Peter Bogdanovich's tribute to early film-making when Ryan O'Neal, a goofy lawyer turned goofy director, has no idea what movie he's in the process of making: no plot, no real characters... which is ironic since director Bogdanovich might have felt the same way while making NICKELODEON... Or perhaps not... if the man who gave us brilliant classics like TARGETS and especially THE LAST PICTURE SHOW combined silent comedy slapstick with a romantic triangle with true Hollywood history in such a clumsy, uninteresting fashion... and Burt Reynolds has absolutely no chemistry as novice actor to O'Neal's novice director...

Ultimately, Bogdanovich blamed the studio for this catastrophe that basically ended his A-list career; but it's the IDEA that's flawed beyond the horribly uneven execution, not knowing which path to take in celebrating the first Hollywood independents war on the big studios (and vice versa), that, unlike PAPER MOON, is a road to absolutely nowhere... An irony because if anyone were to do a historic Hollywood piece it would be the man who began as a critic and wound up an overnight auteur sensation, but, perhaps Bogdanovich was simply too close to the material... Simply put, in doing a parody of old movie style he didn't center enough on the making of old movies. Grade: D

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