Cold Turkey (1971)

DailyView: Day 187, Movie 269

The calendar has shifted to November which allows us to move away from the horror flicks and into other areas of the movie world. We’ll continue to watch some horror movies, but it will not as exclusive as it was in October. The first film out of October was suggested by my friend Todd at ComicWorld. He told me he remembered when this film, which was set in Greenfield, Iowa with some other scenes shot in Winterset, Iowa, was being shot.

Cold Turkey starred Dick Van Dyke as Reverend Clayton Brooks, the small town reverend who was the morale leader for the fictional town of Eagle Rock. Rev. Brooks spends a large chunk of the film trying to inspire the town to stop smoking and then to keep them from doing it.

The Valiant Tobacco Company made a shocking offer. They offered $25 million dollars to any town in the USA that could stop smoking for a month. The idea, which came from the mind of advertising exec Merwin Wren (Bob Newhart), was that no town would be able to get their whole population to agree to stop smoking for 30 days and that it would provide free publicity and a humanitarian image for the tobacco company.

That was when Eagle Rock stepped in.

The small Iowa town took the challenge, got their whole population to sign up for the pledge and started their gigantic smoke-out.

The film was a satire on the addictiveness of cigarettes and what some people would do to smoke. It also looked at the greediness of the human being and how money may inspire them even more than the addictive cigarettes.

There is a cast full of great comedic actors including Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart. There is also Tom Poston, Jean Stapleton, Vincent Gardenia, Pay Goulding, Pippa Scott, Paul Benedict, Bob Elliott, Edward Everett Horton, Barnard Hughes, Graham Jarvis, and Barbara Cason.

There are some silly moments in the film, but it has some funny moments too. As unlikely the plot may be, the film does a good job of personalizing the struggle for the different characters. Dick Van Dyke was at the center of the chaos, carrying the movie.

The conclusion was out of nowhere and had a little bit of everything. The final shot of the film was remarkably ironic and I loved it.

Cold Turkey had its ups and downs, but the film held together and provided a definite satire of the cigarette companies and the human condition.

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