'FM: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little, Martin Mull, et al / Blu-ray / PG / (1978) 2019 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A mutiny ensues when a radio station's management decides to increase the number of commercials, including army recruitment ads.
Rebellious DJs and other employees hijack the station and play only music before the authorities intervene.
Blu-ray Verdict: If you really believe a radio station can survive without running commercials, then you'll be rooting for the hippie-dippy crew in 'FM', an imperfectly awful yet entertaining slice of late '70s rock radio nostalgia!
The music is wonderful, the characters are over-the-top groovy, funky cuteness incarnate, and Martin Mull is overtaken with lust as he nails a gal with some interesting pigmentation issues in the control room!
It's all so much silly, military-industrial complex-bashing nonsense with Michael Brandon running a purist, anti-profit rock station in LA, fending off corporate bigwigs, Army sponsors, and a rival station that has … wait for it … yup ... SOLD OUT!
You get the feel for what's in store here from the start with Brandon racing to work on the deserted streets of Los Angeles (think about that one, folks) and Steely Dan's "FM" being left on by the night DJ.
'FM' is very fast-paced, written for dunderheads who remember the 1970's through dope-fogged glasses and as inconsequential as the pop-culture of that time period.
It's chock full of lovers of pure music, cartoon-like baddies, and cameos by Jimmy Buffett, REO Speedwagon, and a dazzling Linda Ronstadt, who belts out "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me" at a simulcast-concert (making the speakers on your TV cry out in ecstasy).
Sure, the main story with Brandon as a "stick-to-your-guns" radio station GM was OK, but other than the scene with the dope-smokin' army pitchmen, there weren't many attempts at laughter (and yet it was definitely marketed as one, trust me!)
Alongside a low-key Eileen Brennan's smoky voiced hippy DJ and Alex Karras' woefully miscast "country rebel", there was no way I could believe these were the main jocks at the top-rated rock station in LA. Only Mull's Eric Swan (and his over-inflated, fragile ego) seemed to ring true!
The bottom line is that 'FM' is a mediocre movie with a great soundtrack and features some wonderful concert footage in the film too. But the holier-than-thou attitude displayed in this movie is very disappointing.
At one point in the film, Tom Petty (whom I love) is brought into the booth to be interviewed by the DJ while they play tracks from his latest album, Damn the Torpedoes.
Meanwhile, the station manager is trying his hardest to prevent commercials from airing on "his" radio station!
Anyway, and on a side note, the movie is full of little mistakes that lead me to believe that perhaps the screenwriters really didn't know too much about radio!
The call letters "Q-SKY", for example, would never be assigned to a radio station in the US for a couple of solid reasons. The station's purported frequency of 71.1MHz is far below the FM band in the US, which is 88.1MHz to 108.1MHz. And chuckle at the fact that someone decided that you would need to use TWO microphones for a "stereo voice" broadcast!
But, for me, and as aforementioned, best of all is the music played in the background, which includes artists like Michael MacDonald, The Doobie Brothers, and Fleetwood Mac. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation transferred from original film elements
Uncompressed stereo 2.0 PCM audio soundtrack
Mono 1.0 music and effects track
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
No Static at All, a newly filmed interview with Michael Brandon, the star of FM
Radio Chaos, a newly filmed interview with Ezra Sacks, the writer of FM
The Spirit of Radio, a newly filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio and the FM soundtrack by the film and music critic Glenn Kenny
Extensive gallery of original stills, promotional images and soundtrack sleeves
Reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Paul Corupeh