Newest Reviews
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
School's Out Forever
Stump the Guesser
Last Warning, The
Ascent, The
Newest Articles
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
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
  Cold Turkey May Seriously Damage Your Health
Year: 1971
Director: Norman Lear
Stars: Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Pippa Scott, Tom Poston, Edward Everett Horton, Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding, Vincent Gardenia, Barnard Hughes, Graham Jarvis, Jean Stapleton, Barbara Cason, Judith Lowry, Sudie Bond, Paul Benedict, Woodrow Parfrey, M. Emmet Walsh
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Alfred Nobel had a problem. He was responsible for countless deaths having invented dynamite, but he did not wish to be remembered for that down the ages, so he created the Nobel Peace Prize which became his most celebrated legacy. This has been noted by tobacco giant employee Merwin Wren (Bob Newhart), who proposes an idea to the head of the Valiant company (Edward Everett Horton): they don't want to be infamous as a corporation which has caused millions of deaths, so how about a contest to make them look like humanitarians? How about they give twenty-five million dollars to the town which can give up smoking for a whole month?

Wren reasons their product is so addictive, their money has to be safe, and for a while there in Norman Lear's pointed comedy that appears to be the case, but when one town in Iowa which could really do with the cash manages to sign up with the residents' agreement, maybe the company's plans could backfire. Lear was mostly in films during the sixties - Cold Turkey was completed in 1969 but belatedly released two years later - though it is his pioneering sitcom work he will be most recalled for in the seventies, revolutionising the form for the decade with his mixture of social issues and character humour, and you can see strong indications of the way he was heading in this.

It has to be said as far as satire goes the material in Cold Turkey was something of a blunt instrument, yet precisely applied if that made sense, with broadly drawn personalities occupying a well nigh cartoonish world, especially when the condition of the title begins to kick in. Before that the town's local Reverend Clayton Brooks (Dick Van Dyke, one of many sitcom reliables past and future who starred among this movie's ensemble) has whipped up the area into a frenzy of inspiration, seeing to it that everyone there signs the petition and persuading the town drunk (Tom Poston) to leave for the duration because there's no way he has the will power to contribute.

One of the most successful running gags features the doctor (Barnard Hughes) who is so addicted to the cancer sticks that he represents the biggest liability: there's an amusing scene where he has to be practically wrestled to the ground in the operating theatre because he's found a cigarette from somewhere. That somewhere might be from Wren, who does his best to sabotage the drive but is continually foiled, that is until his final push - you're never quite sure of which way this is going to go, as it's such a black comedy that either result is possible, though the actual conclusion is far darker than you would likely anticipate. Mix in a bunch of montages of the population losing their tempers big time, and this was a comedy with a lot of laughs.

Though only if you were willing to go along with the kind of humour that satisfied in the way that pulling your underwear out of the crack of your ass on a hot, sticky day satisfied, it was that sort of tone that Lear was aiming for, practically rubbing the audience's nose in the grimier aspects of life and making them palatable for humour because they were so unpleasant they became ridiculous. And yet, he had a clear-eyed view of the foibles and failings of modern society, where they would rather indulge in something that was likely killing them because the alternative was all too uncomfortable: getting through lives without something to soothe the pain that an addiction can assist with. They do say giving up the coffin nails is more difficult that giving up heroin, and watching this lot you can believe it, brought to vivid insanity by a great cast, including Pippa Scott as the Reverend's almost silent wife or Judith Lowry as the foul-mouthed little old lady of the libertarians. By taking in such wide targets, Lear was unexpectedly exacting. Music by Randy Newman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1678 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: