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FM
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10 from PG votes
Release: 20 Apr 1978 /

FM

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Director: John A. Alonzo,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: Q-SKY is the #1 radio station in Los Angeles mainly because of the music they play, and running the station the way they want to. It has led them to a ratings success. The interesting radio...

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Critic Reviews


It may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but the 1978 movie FM has something going for it as, admittedly in its dated late 1970s way, it somehow foresaw the corporate turn that the radio media would take in years to come. And it does so with a wall-to-wall soundtrack of late 70s Top 40 memories that now fall under the rubric of Classic Rock. In essence, this is the classic rock response to the disco onslaught of Saturday NIGHT FEVER.

Michael Brandon is Jeff Dugan, the program director at QSKY radio in Los Angeles who oversees an on-air staff of wild and crazy disc jockeys (Alex Karras; Cleavon Little; Eileen Brennan; Cassie Yates; Martin Mull) that, through playing what the L.A. populace wants to hear and with limited commercial interruptions, has made the radio station Number One in the second largest media market in the nation. Things seem to be looking up, until "the boys upstairs" decide how much better things could be if more commercials were aired between blasts of Steely Dan, Queen, and Boston. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with Dugan and his merry band, but the top brass envision QSKY just becoming one big infomercial. This, however, leads to an insane backlash from the QSKY staff and, eventually, a takeover of the station that nearly results in rioting on the streets.

This is definitely pretty thin stuff for a film that was allegedly the inspiration for CBS-TV's fine sitcom "WKRP In Cincinnati" (though the pilot of that series was being filmed at the same time FM was being filmed, so the resemblance is only coincidental). But while this film is no NETWORK, in terms of films that attack the decay of the media, FM still works in getting its situations across. Maybe the idea that a radio station's staff would rail against corporate interference sounds a bit daft, but the notion that a big conglomerate (Clear Channel, for example) would turn a radio station into one big box in which the music is only the filler between attempts to part listeners from their hard-earned money isn't so easy to laugh at anymore.

FM has a lot going for it. For one, it was the only feature film directed by John A. Alonzo, one of Hollywood's premiere cinematographers; his credits include CHINATOWN, BLACK Sunday, SCARFACE, and parts of Steven Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. And for another, that wall-to-wall soundtrack of what we now call classic rock is enhanced by actual concert footage of Jimmy Buffett and Linda Ronstadt. Buffett's performance of "Livingston Saturday Night" reminds one of what he was decades before his Margaritaville was hijacked by Nashville pretenders like Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith. And Linda, normally a very stage-shy performer, asserts herself boldly on searing renditions of "Tumbling Dice" and "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me", then pays a heartfelt tribute to Elvis by doing the King's 1956 classic "Love Me Tender."

I can't help but give FM a rating of "7" because it reminds one of what the radio was like before corporate interference and MTV began to slowly corrupt and destroy it, and because it is an interesting time capsule of life in Los Angeles at the end of the 1970s.

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