The One and Only (1978) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for sexual humor and language
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Henry Winkler, Kim Darby, Herve Villechaize, Gene Saks, William Daniels, Polly Holliday, Harold Gould, Ed Begley Jr., Roddy Piper, Gene LeBell
Director: Carl Reiner
Screenplay: Steve Gordon
Review published June 4, 2005
Set in 1951, Henry Winkler (The Waterboy, Holes) plays Andy Schmidt, an aspiring actor who never seems to give up, no matter how many doors get slammed in his face. Andy thinks he is God's gift to actors, and that one day he will be among the greatest of all times. No one else feels this way save one person, Mary (Darby, Better Off Dead), who despite herself ends up falling head over heels for the egotistical schmuck. The two are soon married, but the roles still are eluding Andy, and when they discover that baby is on the way, Andy gets desperate and joins the ranks of professional wrestling, which doesn't exactly make Mary, nor her disapproving family, very happy -- especially when Andy becomes addicted to the limelight he has been seeking all along.
Just like the character of Andy Schmidt himself, The One and Only starts off irritating and obnoxious, only to finally grow on you, and by the end of the film, you can't help but root for Andy to find fame and happiness. Henry Winkler delivers an offbeat, energetic performance, and although he doesn't have the typical build or stature of a professional wrestler, the screenplay by Steve Gordon (Arthur) makes up for it with a few clever twists.
Still, the curious mix of wild comedy and family drama does make for an uneven viewing experience, with the comedic momentum never keeping hold for very long before switching back into romance mode. The love story between Andy and Mary is actually endearing, and does offer the much-needed humanity to Winkler's character to make him sympathetic. Director Carl Reiner (The Jerk, The Man with Two Brains) keeps the film colorful and amusing, although some of the jokes are very un-PC by today's standards.
The One and Only is a bit of a forgotten film, without big star power or much significance, but it offers an amusing look at a man with a giant-sized ego, and it is also interesting for a look behind the scenes in the world of professional wrestling. Silly, but charming.
©2005 Vince Leo