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Serial (1980)

R | | Comedy | 28 March 1980 (USA)
It's the end of the 1970s. Hippies are assimilating, women are raising their consciousness, and men are becoming confused and ineffectual. Don't expect to be able to keep track of all the ... See full summary »

Director:

Bill Persky

Writers:

Cyra McFadden (novel), Rich Eustis (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Mull ... Harvey
Tuesday Weld ... Kate
Jennifer McAllister Jennifer McAllister ... Joan
Sam Chew Jr. Sam Chew Jr. ... Bill
Sally Kellerman ... Martha
Anthony Battaglia Anthony Battaglia ... Stokely
Bill Macy ... Sam
Nita Talbot ... Angela
Pamela Bellwood ... Carol
Barbara Rhoades ... Vivian
Ann Weldon Ann Weldon ... Rachel
Peter Bonerz ... Leonard
Jon Fong Jon Fong ... Wong
Christopher Lee ... Luckman Skull
Patch Mackenzie ... Stella
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Storyline

It's the end of the 1970s. Hippies are assimilating, women are raising their consciousness, and men are becoming confused and ineffectual. Don't expect to be able to keep track of all the names, or who's sleeping with whom. This movie very skillfully conveys the hopeless muddle through which the many characters move as they try to find themselves. Written by Molly Malloy <mailcall@kiva.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One mellow movie about creative divorce, group jacuzzis, organically-fed mistresses, and therapeutic adultery. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Serial See more »

Filming Locations:

Marin County, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$9,870,727
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In his autobiography "Tall, Dark and Gruesome", Sir Christopher Lee identifies this movie as one that was particularly important to him (despite the fact that he played a relatively small part). The reasons being because it was the first time he got to act with an American accent, and also because he was cast against type. See more »

Quotes

Stokely: In an insane society, the sane man must appear insane.
Harvey Holroyd: Where'd you get that?
Stokely: Star Trek.
[leaves the room]
Harvey Holroyd: [to himself] God, I miss that show.
See more »

Connections

References The Merv Griffin Show (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Born To Be Wild
Music and Lyric by Mars Bonfire
Performed by Steppenwolf
See more »

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User Reviews

A film with great potential that doesn't live up to it
30 August 2002 | by Me31See all my reviews

"Serial" is a fairly good movie that instead could have been great. From the very beginning of the movie and the sappy and straightforward opening theme song, it's clear that the director opted not to capture the subtleties and sharp satire of Cyra McFadden's brilliant novel, but rather to paint a much broader and sitcom-ish picture.

From a commercial standpoint, this wasn't necessarily a bad decision (though the film wasn't much of a hit): the novel was very much about a specific place, Marin County, with tons of inside references, and a movie as slavish with the insider details as the novel was wouldn't have played very well at all outside of the Bay Area.

Still, the end result is disappointing. Not as disappointing as, say, the movie version of "Bonfire of the Vanities," but nonetheless along the same lines: a satirical page-turner brought to the screen without its sharpness and full potential. The dialogue feels forced at times, and we never get a clear enough sense of the characters to invest our full interest in them. I'd argue that some of the casting and direction was off the mark: Bill Macy, as great as he was on "Maude," isn't right for this film, for example.

As someone who was a young child in late-1970s Marin County, I wish there were a film that truly captures the quirkiness (some would say craziness) of that place and time. "Serial" tries, but doesn't quite get it right.

As a side note: Although Cyra McFadden's novel "The Serial" is out of print in the US, there's a pretty-recently-reissued UK edition that contains a really interesting forward from McFadden. Diehard fans of the book should check it out. Easier to order than you might think, through amazon.co.uk.


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