Newest Reviews
Halloween Kills
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Suicide Squad, The
One Night in Miami...
Newest Articles
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant 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 2064 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
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: