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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The One and Only (Blu-ray)
The One and Only (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // PG // October 27, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matt Hinrichs | posted November 11, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Henry Winkler took a break from "The Fonz" and Happy Days with 1978's feature film The One and Only, a pleasant romantic comedy set against the early professional wrestling scene in the 1950s. Here's another obscurity from the Paramount Pictures back catalog that's been given a decent, bare-bones home video reissue by Olive Films - cool, or not-cool? Well, if you already like Winkler and desire to see him in something other than reverse-mortgage home loan commercials, you may want to check this one out.

Directed by Carl Reiner (The Jerk) working from a witty script by Steve Gordon (Arthur), The One and Only is surprisingly enjoyable - at least in its first half. Winkler plays Andy Schmidt, a self-obsessed ham of an aspiring actor making time in sleepy Ohio before his master plan of conquering the 1950s entertainment world can come to fruition. In a sweet black and white prologue, young Andy is prompted to sing a song at his parents' party. The precocious kid has barely begun his act, however, before a rude guest starts talking and the kid refuses to continue - end of performance, beginning of Andy's college tenure in 1951. On campus, Andy is struck by a brunette co-ed, Mary Crawford (Kim Darby; True Grit), who seems strong enough to match his ambitions yet pliable enough to bask unquestioningly in his own egotistical glory. Despite Andy's obnoxiousness, loudly serenading the poor girl at their first date, Mary comes to enjoy his goofy non-conformity and breaks off her engagement to a dull med student to be with him. Despite the disapproval of Mary's parents (William Daniels and Polly Holliday), the two eventually marry and attempt to make it in New York City.

While Mary finds an office job to support the newlyweds in their hovel of an apartment, Andy is having a hard time convincing anyone of his thespian abilities - until destiny comes calling in the form of wrestling tights. A chance encounter with another struggling actor, dwarf lothario Milton Miller (Hervé Villechaize; Fantasy Island), brings Andy to the run-down office of wrestling promoter Sidney Seltzer (Gene Saks). Seltzer is extremely skeptical that the slight-of-build Andy can face off against guys much bigger than he, but he admires the young man's gumption and decides to give him a shot. Working as a tag team with the diminutive Milton, Andy winds up getting pummeled by "Indian Joe," a bruiser who fails to understand that it's just for show. Instead of being deterred, however, Andy decides to punch it up by playing various silly characters in the ring - a nimble hypnotist, an Adolph Hitler-alike, a foppish pretty boy. Andy's outsized posturing takes off with wrestling fans, which leaves the now-pregnant Mary upset and frustrated. As Mary takes off to move back in with her parents in Ohio, Andy is left in a quandary - showbiz career, or family life?

More than anything else, The One and Only feels like a made-for-television movie blown up for the big screen. Not that there's anything wrong with that - often the movie glides along on the homey charm of its cast and a storyline with enough novelty to keep it diverting. Except for a few mild profanities, the script is as clean as the movie's flat lighting and simple camera setups. I enjoyed the sparkly chemistry between Winkler and Darby, while the droll script makes room for some interesting minor characters (such as Eating Raoul's Mary Woronov as a flirty barfly). The story loses some steam once Andy goes full-tilt into the pro wrestling game, however. While I like the idea of a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of early pro wrestling, when TV audiences excitedly tuned into the cartoonish antics of personalities like Gorgeous George (which Winkler's character is loosely based upon), the execution ultimately doesn't quite live up to the concept. The movie also has some major issues with getting the '50s atmosphere wrong, including the actors' inappropriate, blow-dried hairstyles. It all adds up to a slipshod, undemanding little flick that probably should've aired on ABC with Winkler's Happy Days as a lead-in. Ayyyyy.

The Blu-ray:


Video

Olive Films' Blu-ray edition of The One and Only is mastered from a somewhat aged print. While the detail is nicely preserved in the mastering job, the print itself is underwhelming with pronounced grain, splotchy, overwhelmingly brown color palette and frequent instances of dust and other debris. The image itself is pretty stable. A lot of the camera setups in this 16:9 image look as if they were blown up and cropped, adding to this movie's chintzy made-for-TV feel.

Audio

The film's stereo soundtrack sports some distortion during louder passages, but is generally a passable listen. No subtitle track is included on the disc.

Extras

None. The disc sports a simple menu with Play and Chapter options displayed atop a mirror-image photo of Winkler in wrestling garb.

Final Thoughts

Henry Winkler proved that he was more than "The Fonz" in The One and Only, a sweetly endearing 1978 comedy from director Carl Reiner. Winkler delivers a good performance as an egotistical, scene-stealing young actor who finds an unlikely outlet in the early '50s pro wrestling circuit. It's a cute, sloppily made, TV movie-ish effort - worth a single watch, yet not a keeper by a long shot. Rent It.


Matt Hinrichs is a designer, artist, film critic and jack-of-all-trades in Phoenix, Arizona. Since 2000, he has been blogging at Scrubbles.net. 4 Color Cowboy is his repository of Western-kitsch imagery, while other films he's experienced are logged at Letterboxd. He also welcomes friends on Twitter @4colorcowboy.

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