Newest Reviews
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
  FM Hey, That's Smooth
Year: 1978
Director: John A. Alonzo
Stars: Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little, Martin Mull, Cassie Yates, Norman Lloyd, Jay Fenichel, James Keach, Joe Smith, Tom Tarpey, Janet Brandt, Mary Torrey, Roberta Wallach, Terry Jastrow, Linda Ronstadt, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty
Genre: Comedy, Drama, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Q-SKY is a Los Angeles radio station which boasts a loyal band of listeners across the region thanks to its dedication to playing high quality music over a crystal clear FM signal. It has a small but adept group of disc jockeys led by Jeff Dugan (Michael Brandon) who this morning is lying asleep in bed when he receives a telephone call from the overnight presenter The Prince of Darkness (Cleavon Little) to inform him it's nearly six o'clock which means he will be heading home. The issue with that is Dugan hosts the breakfast show, and he only has a few minutes to get to the station before this show begins, which cues him racing across the city in his sports car to reach the microphone and continue broadcasting...

It's OK, he makes it, and that bit was just an item of humour to set things off in what was could be best described as drama with comedy focused on music. Radio in the nineteen-seventies, in the United States at least, seems worth getting nostalgic about as the increased use of the huge improvement over AM that FM represented with regard to music brought up a host of stations dedicated to the AOR field, with various digressions to what was cool at the time, from comedy to the more independent, out there scene. Making a film about this would appear to be the obvious move, the stations were popular enough, but even as this was released there were changes taking place in the media.

Those changes informed the writing of Eric Sacks' script as Dugan finds himself pitched against the money men among those who own Q-SKY; they are pleased the figures are in when they tell them it is the most popular channel in the city, but they feel this should mean they should be generating larger profits, and draw up plans to reduce the amount of music, of presenter freedom essentially, in favour of more advertising. When the U.S. Army create commercials to be played over the air to appeal to the more radical leanings of the listenership, Dugan is furious, this is the last straw, although you do wonder how much they embraced the counterculture when listening to REO Speedwagon (who make an appearance here).

Still, it's the drive to stick it to The Man under the belief, misguided or not, rock and pop music can represent a stand against conservative, repressive society that fuelled the plot, and maybe back in 1978 this kind of rock did sound like that (you'll recognise that not a single note of disco is to be heard on the soundtrack, even though arguably that was more resembling the future of the medium than what comes across as a tad safe to modern ears). But given the setpiece concert footage featured Jimmy Buffett followed by Linda Ronstadt, the rebel posturing of Q-SKY was hard to believe, even as the finale saw the staff barricading themselves into the studio and a rally breaking out in the street outside, one which erupts into eventual violence. It was telling that there was not much of an audience for the film when it was released.

Looking back on it, there was a definite end of an era mood to FM, as when the eighties dawned the media began to concentrate on narrowcasting, centring in on specific audience types who would either want talk radio shock jocks to spout reactionary invective, or bland fare they didn't have to concentrate too much on: smooth jazz, overfamiliar oldies and the like. You cannot imagine Dugan and his merry band being too tolerant of that, which would see them losing their jobs, especially with a sit in protest on their CVs, therefore their victory would likely be a pyrrhic one as it was when corporate radio conquered the quirkier channels on the FM dial, leaving a few brave outposts playing what they wanted, to a listenership who did not want to hear the same old thing every day. For that reason this film probably plays better now than it did then as we can see what was around the corner (British radio, aside from the BBC, would eventually not be much more inspiring than the US equivalent), and if the music choice doesn't sound that daring (though the resulting compilation LP sold more copies than the film did tickets), Steely Dan's title track gleamed with the sleek promise tuning in to one of these stations held.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1437 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan


Last Updated: