Blu-ray Review: FM

STUDIO: Arrow/MVD | DIRECTOR: John A. Alonzo | CAST: Michael Brandon, Eileen Brennan, Alex Karras, Cleavon Little, Martin Mull, Cassie Yates, Norman Lloyd
RELEASE DATE: July 2, 2019 | PRICE: Blu-ray $22.97
BONUSES: newly filmed interviews, appreciation on music of era
SPECS: PG | 104 min. | Comedy drama | 2.35:1 widescreen | 2.0 PCM/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall

The sole directorial effort from the renowned cinematographer John A. Alonzo (Chinatown, Scarface), 1978’s FM is a sporadicall funny and dramatic comedy-drama about a cool Los Angeles radio station, Q-SKY, the gaggle of deejays and office players who work there, and the battle that the station manager (Michael Brandon, TV’s Episodes) and his crew are having with the station’s corporate bosses, who are looking for more, more, more revenue—even via military advertisements, if it works.

No static at all: Martin Mull stars in FM.

Though it’s set in 1977-78, the film has an unsteady feel that combines a Sixties “fight the man” stance that proceeds with an album-oriented adult rock stride featuring the music of such artists as Steely Dan (who contribute the awesome title track), Eagles, Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Buffet, Foreigner, Boz Scaggs and Linda Ronstadt, who performs “live” an extended concert sequence. With nary a sign of the era’s punk music explosion seen or heard anywhere, the PG-rated FM plays it relatively safe—just as the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati did a couple of years later.

Realizing that the movie wasn’t quite the cult favorite that its branding positions it as, the good people of Arrow have dressed up their Blu-ray release (which features a handsome transfer from the original film elements) with a handful of fun bonuses. Leading the way are a pair of newly filmed interviews with Michael Brandon and Ezra Sacks, the star and writer of FM, respectively. Brandon offers an engaging look back at the film, while also talking about his involvement in his other projects (which include John Carpenter’s Starman and Thomas the Tank Engine). For his part, Ezra Sacks talks about his work in the radio industry, which led to the penning of FM, his first produced screenplay.

Finally, film and music critic Glenn Kenny enjoys himself as he talks about the film’s soundtrack—song-by-song—and its place (or misplacement, maybe?) in the context of FM radio circa 1978.

Buy or Rent FM

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.