FM Special Edition on Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review – Michael Brandon

FM feels like the kind of movie where, if it was being made today, there’d be enough scope to turn it into a full series on Netflix.

Another radio station is trying to bribe their way in to this one – QSky Radio, so they can fill it with over-commercialisation, but it would compromise the quality of the music output, and end up with complete junk, whilst filling it full of adverts. This reminds me of 1991 when the wonderful Stockport radio station KFM, home to Craig Cash, the late, great Caroline Aherne, and Peter Kay’s Car Share‘s Rob Charles, was taken over by Signal Radio. If you’re not familiar with them, just tune into the likes of Heart and Smooth FM, and you’ll be wishing for someone to put you out of your misery!

There’s a difference in terms of the type of ads, though, since some of these in the film would’ve been for army recruitment, which actually mirrored a real-life situation at the time.

While Jeff (Michael Brandon) does the breakfast show, and runs the station, another DJ, Eric Swan (Martin Mull), has bigger designs, on being a TV star. There’s also support in the cast from the other DJs including Mother (Eileen Brennan Police Academy) and Prince (Cleavon Little Blazing Saddles).

Plot-wise, there’s about enough plot for one 45-minute episode, but it runs for 1hr 45 minutes. On the plus side, though, there’s a proliferation of incredibly amazing ’70s tunes throughout, no doubt making this a more engaging experience in 2019 than it did in 1978, since we’ve had time to love them even more.

There’s also appearances from REO Speedwagon and Tom Petty, and a performance from Linda Ronstadt, whose gig is being broadcast by QSky Radio.

Eileen Brennan and Michael Brandon

It’s amazing to grasp how this was originally a PG-certificate, in the US at least, given the occasional ’70s-style leering at women, and suggestive innuendo moments, but then we had those in the UK on prime time TV comedies, so things change over time.

The film is certainly worth a watch, and it’s nice to see it for the ’70s vibe, but as a film, it’s a bit all over the place, since it doesn’t seem to know who to follow in the story, and just jumps randomly from one character to another. That said, the cast are good and affable, so it makes for an entertaining and undemanding watch. It just gets a bit stupid towards the end – as the staff resist the corporate takeover – but it will have felt as being anarchic back in the day.

Watching Michael Brandon’s new interview in the extras, he states that he wanted the film to have more story, but the studio opted for more music instead, since they could make a fortune with the soundtrack, and they did. It made more money in sales of that, than in those who went to see the movie!

It’s also interesting to learn that this is mostly-cinematographer John A Alonzo‘s only movie as a director in his time. I wish I knew why he didn’t make any more, since he certainly had a good eye as a director, no doubt helped with his cinematography talents.

Bob Seger’s Night Moves features in FM,
and here is a Grand Theft Auto V video I made in 2013 with the same song!

The extras are as follows and there are some great interviews in here:

  • No Static At All (25:05): This is a wonderful brand new interview with Dempsey… or was it Makepeace? Either way, it’s Michael Brandon. If ever there was anyone who is cool AF, it’s him!

    He tells a story about filming Linda Ronstadt‘s concert, and how they got everything in place in terms of the camera equipment, but didn’t yet have the permission until the last minute!

    There’s so many other stories worth listening to as well, so this makes for a fantastic extra. It has just 2 chapters, as do the next two interviews.

  • Radio Chaos (23:24): Screenwriter Ezra Sacks talks about his time writing FM, and all the inspirations for the individual characters.

  • The Spirit of Radio (23:00): A newly-filmed video appreciation of the era of FM radio, and the FM soundtrack by the film and music critic Glenn Kenny, going through every track one by one in quite a humourous fashion.

    He also talks about how there’s now the demise of FM radio, and I can understand that, since the likes of Global and Bauer have bought out most stations, and now I have my own music in the car as opposed to an actual radio station.

  • Isolated Music and Effects Track: So you check out all those cool tunes!

  • Original Trailer (2:53): In 16:9. Not the greatest quality, but I love archive stuff like this.

  • Image Galleries: A ton of pictures covering Production Stills (10:00), Posters, Lobby Cards and Press (2:40) and Soundtrack Editions (7:40), with approx 10 seconds per image, and these are individually chaptered. If only the movie was so well chaptered, Arrow!!!

I can only base my review on the singular disc which I’ve received, but if you buy this, it commes with a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork options, and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by writer and critic Paul Corupe.

The menu features a piece of the theme mixed with clips from the film, there are subtitles in English and the bog-standard 12 chapters.

FM is released today on Blu-ray Special Edition. You can also buy the 2-disc Soundtrack CD.

FM – The Blu-ray packshot


Detailed specs:

Running time: 105 minutes
Year: 1978
Distributor: Arrow Films
Released: July 1st 2019
Chapters: 12 FCD1897
Sound: DTS 2.0 HD Master Audio (Stereo)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (35mmn)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: John A Alonzo
Producer: Rand Holston
Screenplay: Ezra Sacks
Music: Steely Dan

Jeff Dugan: Michael Brandon
Mother: Eileen Brennan
Doc Holiday: Alex Karras
Prince: Cleavon Little
Eric Swan: Martin Mull
Laura Coe: Cassie Yates
Carl Billings: Norman Lloyd
Bobby Douglas: Jay Fenichel
Lt. Reach: James Keach
Albert Driscoll: Joe Smith
Regis Lamar: Tom Tarpey