Sunday, April 12, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Superdome (1978) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

David Janssen stars in SUPERDOME (1978), a TV-movie recently released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

SUPERDOME aspires to be something along the lines of AIRPORT (1970) at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

The film presents a wide array of characters: The Cougars football team owner (Jane Wyatt), who has a heart condition; the team's steady, loyal manager, Mike Shelley (Janssen); a pair of troubled star players (Ken Howard and Tom Selleck); a pushy reporter (Donna Mills) chasing after Mike; a struggling player rep exec (Van Johnson); and a retired star player now up to no good (Clifton Davis).

Despite everyone involved with the team wrestling with various personal issues, the Cougars are favored to win...and then an assassin starts bumping off people associated with the team.

I love that Kino Lorber has been releasing '70s TV-movies -- especially my old favorites YOUNG PIONEERS (1976) and YOUNG PIONEERS CHRISTMAS (1976) -- and the SUPERDOME premise was promising, especially as it mixes excellent pros like Wyatt and Johnson with up-and-comers like a pre-MAGNUM, P.I. Selleck and pre-soap stardom Robin Mattson (GENERAL HOSPITAL, SANTA BARBARA).

Unfortunately the film is more than a bit of a mess. While the pros like Wyatt and Johnson acquit themselves well in their limited scenes, overall most of the dialogue and performances are phony and inauthentic.

Janssen and Edie Adams, as his loyal secretary, float through unscathed if colorless, but much of the film is painful to watch, such as Donna Mills' initial entrance and come-on to Janssen or Susan Howard (DALLAS) showing up to see her husband (Ken Howard) and immediately launching into a soliloquy about their troubled marriage and her visit to see a shrink. It's hard to care when you've just met the characters and they immediately unload their problems onto the audience in melodramatic fashion.

I noticed before watching that the film's IMDb viewer rating was unusually low but hoped that if it didn't play well as straight drama it would be a good soap opera of the DALLAS variety; however, there are so many characters, so thinly depicted, that the movie doesn't succeed on either level.

Particular scenes verge into "so bad it's good" territory, but for the most part it's unfortunately just silly and/or dull. When the assassin was revealed, I chuckled at the absurdity of the story. To top things off, the movie ends with the National Anthem at the big game...we don't even find out if the Cougars win the Super Bowl!

Honestly, the thing I liked best about the film, other than the familiar faces floating by, was the film's very '70s look. It was like revisiting my childhood, from the United Airlines logo painted on the plane to the garish decor (check out the striped carpet when Janssen confronts the killer!) and wardrobes (Janssen's open shirts, ugh), the "Farrah" hairstyles, the sweater draped oh-so-casually over Mills' back...despite having lived through the era, it's kind of funny how silly a lot of it looks to me now, in a way that other eras don't.

The film was shot by Matthew F. Leonetti. The script of this 97-minute film was by Barry Oringer, from a story by Oringer and Bill Svanoe.

I reviewed Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release. The print, from a brand-new 2K master, looks extremely good for a TV-movie of this era. The disc includes a new audio commentary by the director, Jerry Jameson, and film historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell. A gallery of trailers for four additional films in included.

Although this film didn't work for me, I love that Kino is making these hard-to-see '70s TV-movies available in the best prints possible, and I hope they'll release more in the future.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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