Nickelodeon (1976)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Dec 21, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 121 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Nickelodeon, Peter Bogdanovich's love letter to the early days of silent films, is so heartfelt a film that it's a shame it isn't more successful overall. The problem seems to be that Bogdanovich fell so in love with making an homage to the era that he failed to sharpen the screenplay into a cohesive, dramatic story and to give sufficient depth to the characters. Adding to the problem is that Bogdanovich, though talented in his own right and clearly a dedicated and devoted fan of silent film creators, simply doesn't have the right feel for the slapstick that is integral to both the era and this film. The timing isn't quite right, the setups don't really work, the presentation is a little off. None of this is terrible, but it keeps the humor from really bursting forth in the way it needs to. There is one marvelous sequence at the end, as Bogdanovich recreates the Birth of a Nation premiere in a manner that creates chills. And he does get a first-rate performances from Burt Reynolds and Brian Keith (who shines in the final monologue), and a compelling one from Tatum O'Neal, even if the crucial contribution from Ryan O'Neal is severely lacking. Even with its flaws, Nickelodeon has enough going for it to make it worth viewing -- but it could have been so much more than it is.