Title: THE GONG SHOW MOVIE airing on Sundance in March
William S. Wilson - February 25, 2006 05:40 PM (GMT)
I've never actually seen this so I will definitely be catching it.
Friday 03.03.06 at 01:00 PM
Monday 03.13.06 at 10:00 AM
Monday 03.13.06 at 05:45 AM
Saturday 03.18.06 at 05:15 AM
Tuesday 03.28.06 at 10:30 AM
John Bernhard - February 25, 2006 08:11 PM (GMT)
Get ready for a painful experience! I saw this back in 1980 and it was awful then and it fares no better 25 years later. I just taped it this week ( Sundance had it this month too ) and had to break it up into segements over a couple days to get through it. This has to be one of the least interesting films ever made by an ego maniac. There is no story at all, just a premise. Barris stars, wrote & directed and even warbles the pathetic song that turns up a couple times in the film. The best part of the flick is the bits from the original GONG SHOW, but they are edited so tightly they fail to have much impact. Several sequences are so bad you cannot understand why they were included, but then again, almost no effort went into this and they had to fill up 90 minutes somehow.
Marty McKee - February 25, 2006 09:26 PM (GMT)
Are the Popsicle Twins in this movie?
Dean Harris - February 25, 2006 09:29 PM (GMT)
I was 16 when this was in the theaters and it was the first movie I ever walked out on (I have to remind myself that I fell ASLEEP during Star Wars and walked out on it on a second try several years later). Even to an eager teen this was pretty awful.
Marshall Crist - February 26, 2006 07:14 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Marty McKee @ Feb 25 2006, 03:26 PM)|
| Are the Popsicle Twins in this movie? |
Chris Neill - April 23, 2006 10:56 PM (GMT)
Was the Sundance print uncut? I watched THE GONG SHOW MOVIE last night on the Canadian Bravo! channel but it was edited for television, so no Popsicle Twins while Jaye P. Morgan's flashes her breasts off camera.
Joel Stein - April 24, 2006 04:35 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Chris Neill @ Apr 23 2006, 04:56 PM)|
| Jaye P. Morgan's flashes he breasts |
"he breasts"? Like Meat loaf in FIGHT CLUB? :D
Chris Neill - April 24, 2006 11:32 AM (GMT)
Hhhhmmmm, that illusive 'r' has been reinstated. The wonders of modern technology.
Christopher Lupold - April 24, 2006 01:22 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Chris Neill @ Apr 23 2006, 04:56 PM)|
| Was the Sundance print uncut? I watched THE GONG SHOW MOVIE last night on the Canadian Bravo! channel but it was edited for television, so no Popsicle Twins while Jaye P. Morgan's flashes her breasts off camera. |
The version shown on Sundance had a clip of the Popsicle Twins as well as Jaye P. Morgan's breasts - and I use that term loosely(saying "he breasts" is actually pretty appropriate in this instance). Kitten Natividad's nearly-nude performance seemed intact as well. But even with those bits and brief moments from Phil Hartman, Danny DeVito, and Taylor Negron - I had to fight the urge to scoop out my eyes with a melon baller to insure I never have to see it again. :)
Joel Stein - April 24, 2006 06:15 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Chris Neill @ Apr 24 2006, 05:32 AM)|
| Hhhhmmmm, that illusive 'r' has been reinstated. The wonders of modern technology. |
Sorry Chris, I couldn't resist...Just call me "Spell-Check Stein"! :ph43r: Or you might want to call me something worse...
Hal Horn - December 20, 2011 02:56 PM (GMT)
"Why the Hell isn't THIS on DVD yet?" -- Number 71
THE GONG SHOW MOVIE (1980 Universal) Starring Chuck Barris, Robin Altman, James B. Douglas, Brian O'Mullin, Jack Bernardi, Jaye P. Morgan, Pat McCormick, Rip Taylor, Mabel King, Lillie Shelton, Phil Hartman, Murray Langston, Della Barris. Directed by Chuck Barris.
The host and creator of TV's highly successful GONG SHOW, Barris is on top of the game show universe. He seems to have it all, but there's a down side: constant battles with the network via Douglas (sort of a kinder, gentler version of PRIVATE PARTS' "Pig Vomit"), high-stress tapings of five shows at a time and virtually non-stop unsolicited public auditions. Eventually wife Altman gets fed up and walks out, adding to his cumulative stress. It's enough to make a man want to get away from it all, and Barris does---via a one way ticket to Morocco and the "world's biggest desert".
1980 brought not one, but two variations on Fellini's 8 1/2, with Barris' far less cinematic GONG SHOW MOVIE beating Woody Allen's STARDUST MEMORIES to theatres by four months. Legendary game show producer Barris was directing a film for the first (and only) time, but ceded little control in bringing his most famous creation to the big screen. In addition to appearing in every scene, Barris cast real life wife Altman (her only imdb credit), executive produced, co-scripted (with PUTNEY SWOPE auteur Robert Downey Sr.) and composed the soundtrack for THE GONG SHOW MOVIE.
Okay, for his MOVIE, Chuckie Baby wore almost as many hats behind the camera as he did in front of it, but this isn't the ego trip critics claimed it was. Over the course of ninety minutes Barris is insulted numerous times, misidentified, physically assaulted and even literally pissed on. He doles the biggest laughs out to his supporting cast (the best sight gag: The Unknown Comic's bedroom). The TV magnate cheekily kept his GONG SHOW unpolished and unprofessional, and it appears Barris' intent was to preserve those same qualities for the feature version, not to stake some claim to filmmaking genius. Wife Altman and daughter Della are both just as uncomfortable in front of the camera as the man himself.
This is not to say that being purposely slapdash makes THE GONG SHOW MOVIE some kind of lost subversive classic--just that it doesn't quite deserve the outright savaging reviewers gave it. Certainly it was gonged for the wrong reason. My best guess is that the original idea was Barris and Downey teaming up to satirize the high-pressure showbiz world of films like ALL THAT JAZZ (as Barris' TV productions had done to various game show subgenres). However, the man without the filmmaking experience had (or took) total creative control, and the result seems more like one long montage periodically interrupted by a few minutes of plot. Kind of like ROCKY IV, only far less pretentious.
Speaking of the frequent montages: not the collection of the show's greatest hits that you might anticipate. Instead, you get the greatest misses---the acts that were then too raunchy for prime time, almost all including nudity or profanity. The editing of the bits also should have been much better. For example, the infamous Popsicle Twins (reportedly missed by the entire West Coast the first time) get less than ten seconds while other less notable (and G-rated) acts make it to the gonging. A better mixture might have made the videotaped Show footage more accessible for the uninitiated, but it is still fun spotting familiar faces like Kitten Natividad, Robert Romanus, Tony Randall and Vincent Schiavelli. And if you're wondering if you'll finally see Jaye P. Morgan's boobs: you do, and while they are real, I'll stop short of the other half of the famous SEINFELD quote.
Universal never allowed Andy Kaufman to realize his dream of bringing THE TONY CLIFTON STORY to the big screen at the peak of his popularity, but they spent $6 million bankrolling Chuck Barris two years past his. Go figure. Oh well, Barris courted audience rejection almost as brazenly as Kaufman, and while GONG SHOW MOVIE couldn't match the legendary Clifton screenplay in sheer surrealism, it did have its mind-bending moments. Not to mention more solid laughs than you'd expect underneath the wreckage. In it's own way, THE GONG SHOW MOVIE defies criticism: made exclusively for fans of Barris and the show and more likely to bewilder newcomers than convert them. But really, critics, come on. "Worst Movie of All Time?" Hell, it wasn't even the worst movie released during that month (May 1980) IMO: that honor has to go to G.O.R.P.*.
So....why isn't this on DVD yet?
As noted above, GONG SHOW's moment had passed by the time this feature-length version hit the big screen. The show had been off NBC for nearly two years, and the syndicated version was only a few months from cancellation. Barris' small screen knockoffs (THE $1.98 BEAUTY SHOW, THE CHUCK BARRIS RAH RAH SHOW) had all come and long gone. GONG SHOW MOVIE was every bit as timely when it was released as COOL AS ICE and premiered to similar critical and commercial reception, and Universal quickly pulled it. And, as I mentioned a time or two, it is terribly made. Intentionally, no doubt, but still terribly made.
Why it should be on DVD:
The show that Barris (THE DATING GAME and THE NEWLYWED GAME are his other, more durable hits as producer) is still best known for has maintained its cult following for 35 years now, and even picked up new fans during the past decade with GSN airing reruns and CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND becoming a well-received feature courtesy of director George Clooney. Barris, who wrote Freddy Cannon's hit "Palisades Park" in his pre-TV days, concocted the tunes himself. They're actually kinda catchy, especially the showstopping "Don't Get Up". Since Chuckie Baby wrote 'em all, music rights shouldn't be an issue.
Of course, it's possible that Barris himself would rather just forget about this venture. Assuming he doesn't, this one would likely find its audience, and a commentary with the man himself and Downey Sr. would be one a must-listen if there ever was one. A DVD release would also be a great excuse to include a complete GONG SHOW episode or two as extras. What gives on this one, Universal? Inquiring dangerous minds want to know.
Bob Cashill - December 25, 2011 06:39 AM (GMT)
THE $1.98 BEAUTY SHOW--there's a flashback for you! If the Universal Vault Series were to bring out THE GONG SHOW MOVIE and Marty Feldman's career-killing IN GOD WE TRU$T my head might explode. Hey, THE NUDE BOMB and THE ISLAND, also from 1980, got released. C'mon, Universal, let all those dogs out!
Chris Neill - December 25, 2011 10:08 AM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Bob Cashill @ Dec 25 2011, 12:39 AM)|
| THE $1.98 BEAUTY SHOW--there's a flashback for you! If the Universal Vault Series were to bring out THE GONG SHOW MOVIE and Marty Feldman's career-killing IN GOD WE TRU$T my head might explode. Hey, THE NUDE BOMB and THE ISLAND, also from 1980, got released. C'mon, Universal, let all those dogs out! |
IN GOD WE TRU$T is out on DVD in the UK from Odeon Entertainment.
John Black - December 26, 2011 05:18 AM (GMT)
THE GONG SHOW MOVIE is scheduled for one airing on HBOC-W in January. It is, accoding to my cable magazine, scheduled for January 8th at 4:25 AM, PST. I have no idea if this will be the uncut version or not, but I would presume it to be uncut.
Mark Tinta - December 26, 2011 11:38 AM (GMT)
It's on my cable's channel guide at 4:25 at ET on January 8, on HBO Comedy. Thanks for the heads-up. I've always wanted to see this Barris vanity project.
John Black - January 9, 2012 05:22 AM (GMT)
I watched this on Showtime. Okay I get it, Chuck Barris wanted to make his version of Fellini's "8 1/2"
A few chuckles to be had. If this was on a DVD, I wonder if there would be a supplemental feature entitled "The Popsicle Twins--where they are now."
Bob Cashill - January 9, 2012 03:32 PM (GMT)
It looked spiffy in HD. 8 1/2 indeed but a very meta-movie, one that looks very today, given the interweaving of documentary elements and the blurring between the real and the reel. You can feel co-writer Robert Downey's hand in it. It would make a good co-feature with Woody Allen's STARDUST MEMORIES, which it anticipated by a few months.
On its own steam, though, it's not very good, and anyone coming in cold will be baffled. You had to be there. By the time it came out the phenomenon had faded, and it assumes you were already in the know about the program, with no eye toward posterity. There are some funny bits, however, amidst the Barris-written songs and general self-indulgence, and the final, desert-shot number, "Don't Get Up," is almost poignant with its freakshow ensemble. I wonder if music rights, rather than its quality, has kept it off home video?
The Wikipedia entry on THE GONG SHOW
has some interesting info about it. Mare Winningham was a contestant. And Gene Gene the Dancing Machine later lost his legs to diabetes, sad to say.
Robert Richardson - January 9, 2012 09:19 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (Bob Cashill @ Jan 9 2012, 09:32 AM)|
| And Gene Gene the Dancing Machine later lost his legs to diabetes, sad to say. |
He appears in CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND, and I can recall being startled to see that he had lost his legs. Gene was always a highlight of THE GONG SHOW.
Bob Cashill - January 9, 2012 09:56 PM (GMT)
I don't recall a thing about CONFESSIONS, but Rockwell was well cast as Barris.
John Black - January 10, 2012 05:56 AM (GMT)
Bob, I did think that the climactic number "Don't Get Up" was much better than anything else in the film.
Marty McKee - April 13, 2012 11:04 PM (GMT)
THE GONG SHOW MOVIE (1980)—Directed by Chuck Barris. Stars Chuck Barris, Robin Altman, James B. Douglas. It’s such a strange idea that it deserves to be a better movie. THE GONG SHOW was something of a cult sensation in syndication and NBC daytime during the late 1970s, so Universal gave the mock game show’s creator and host a budget to write (with Robert Downey), direct, and star in an R-rated version of it. Fact and fiction mix recklessly as Barris, playing himself, provides an exaggerated behind-the-scenes look at his personal life and the depressing toll THE GONG SHOW takes on it. Celebrity is a real bummer. The man at the urinal next to his is so excited to be whizzing next to the TV star that he accidentally whizzes on Chuck’s shoes instead. Jackass network executive Didlo (Douglas) is always harassing Chuck about budgets and ratings. And everywhere Chuck goes—work, the donut shop, a hospital, restaurants—some no-talent loser ambushes him to audition their crummy act for THE GONG SHOW. Barris’ real-life wife Altman stands beside her man, even at his lowest ebb. One-time director Barris shoots some scenes documentary-style, and the best scenes are real auditions and GONG SHOW scenes with profanity and nudity that fell to NBC censors. It isn’t a good film, but it’s an intriguing oddity and fascinating in its best and worst scenes. Look for Jaye P. Morgan (a lot of her), Jamie Farr, Pat McCormick, Steve Garvey, Murray Langston (as the Unknown Comic), Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, Tony Randall, Danny DeVito, Ed Marinaro, Harvey Lembeck, David Sheiner, Gary Mule Deer, Vincent Schiavelli, Kitten Natividad, Rosey Grier, Taylor Negron, Phil Hartman, and Rip Taylor. Music by GONG SHOW bandleader Milton DeLugg.