Cold Turkey

6.71 h 42 min1971PG-13
Dick Van Dyke stars as Clayton Brooks, minister in a small Iowa town, who takes up the challenge presented by an ad exec (Bob Newhart) for a tobacco company: any city or town in America that can give up smoking for 30 days gets $25 million dollars.
Norman Lear
Dick Van DykePippa ScottTom Poston
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Edward Everett HortonBob ElliottRay GouldingBob Newhart
Bud YorkinNorman Lear
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

621 global ratings

  1. 71% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 5% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

OaReviewed in the United States on June 17, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Funny And Thoughtful
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In this era of rampant substance abuse and globalism, this hilarious tale of a town trying to quit smoking is almost quaint and a little dated. But the relevance is still there. Especially against the bigger backdrop of greed -- not only the tobacco company's, but the town's!

What originally starts as a small town's last bid to keep from becoming another economic statistic, quickly degenerates into a comedic free-for-all when they are the only ones to accept a big tobacco company's offer to pay $25 million to any town that can quit smoking for one month. As the viewer, we're immediately privy to the fact that it's a publicity stunt they have no desire to make good on. To their dismay, the town of Eagle Rock is so desperate to avoid becoming another ghost town struck down by economic disparity by "outsourcing", they actually accept the challenge!

This is a comedy that can give escapists a guilty pleasure with its seemingly mindless farce, or thinkers something to ponder as it dives into the nature of greed, desperation, and addiction. Originally filmed in 1969, it's a good look at typical small town isolationism as it comes face-to-face with the aftereffects of America's increasingly globalist economic policies.

Zany and madcap by today's standards, Cold Turkey is a hilarious ensemble comedy. We get to watch an entire town meltdown as its citizens struggle with their withdrawal symptoms from quitting tobacco cold turkey. It features some wonderful performances by yesteryear greats of comedy like Dick Van Dyke, Jean Stapleton, Barnard Hughes, and Vincent Gardenia.

If you love 70s comedies, then Cold Turkey should be in your collection!
5 people found this helpful
T. G. VelliniReviewed in the United States on July 7, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyable Leftovers
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Terrific Comedy by Norman Lear populated by a Host of familiar faces. Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, Pippa Scott, Tom Poston, Bob & Ray, Edward Everett Horton, Jean Stapleton, Vincent Gardenia, Barnard Hughes, Barbara Cason, M. Emmet Walsh, and Paul Benedict.
The plot concerns a town in Iowa that enters a contest. If the entire town can quit smoking for 30 Days they will win 25 million dollars.
But the film has more subversive commentaries at work than one sees on the surface from the way the town clergyman bullies his wife to the manifestations of greed and satirical looks at the media. Even Nixon is involved. Several great character studies from the chain smoking town doctor to town lush.
I saw this when it was first released in 1971. I enjoyed it then and I believe I even enjoy it now. A surprisingly entertaining comedy with just the right amount of darkness about it.
Possibly Lear's best work.
2 people found this helpful
Steve MReviewed in the United States on July 30, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Doctor Proctor, Proctor Doctor, Doc Proctor, Doca Procta...Oh, give him a smoke, hey?
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One of the over-looked gems featuring Dick Van Dyke. This is one that we seem to watch each year and I am delighted to finally get the Blu-Ray disc of this title. The thought of a mid-American town being offered millions of dollars to go "Cold Turkey" and have all the smokers stop for thirty days. Every time I hear the Randy Newman feature song (played at the opening and closing of the film) it takes me right back to the utter insanity of going Cold Turkey!
11 people found this helpful
Vernon Street ArchivesReviewed in the United States on August 29, 2015
3.0 out of 5 stars
A five-star movie and a passable DVD release (that's better than nothing)
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Cold Turkey is one of the best and perhaps least-well-known satires. It's never been given its just due on home video. This made-to-order release is no exception to that history - despite this being Randy Newman's first full film score, an exceptional cast, wonderful cinematography, and superb writing.

I have the full-screen laserdisc release and compared that with this DVD. The DVD case says, confusingly, that this is full-screen. The DVD must be played in 4:3 to achieve the correct proportions on-screen but the image is in fact masked for 1:85 and appears as a widescreen inset. This was achieved by taking the full-screen image (used in the laserdisc) and masking the top and bottom. I've never been clear as to whether this masking is how the film was actually released theatrically in 1971 or whether the full-screen image on the laserdisc has been cropped left and right. But the masking works fine here. The video source elements are OK and an improvement in resolution over the laserdisc release.

What's exceptionally annoying is that the DVD soundtrack has been reprocessed for stereo. The echoing in some sections, especially musical sections, is just awful and really detracts. The laserdisc release, happily, left the original monaural soundtrack alone. (Laserdiscs typically sound better than DVDs for the lack of digital compression used in DVDs.)

So ... if you want a reasonable DVD release ... But it is hardly ideal and NOT worth the full list asking price. Buy it on sale or to make that magical $35 order total to qualify for free, slow shipping.

[The laserdisc also included the very funny coming attraction trailer; the DVD release lacks this.]
9 people found this helpful
TOm P. BullockReviewed in the United States on March 7, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Cold Turkey"
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This is a funny and charming film with a great cast and witty politically-aimed subtext of characters, attitudes and circumstance expressed that has fresh resonance today. Starring Dick Van Dyke and featuring Bob Newhart, Pippa Scott, Tom Poston, comedy team Bob & Ray and even venerated 1930's and 40's character actor Edward Everett Horton, there are also other wonderful actors aboard such as Jean Stapleton, Bernard Hughes, Vincent Gardenia and many others in supporting roles.

The film story involves a small, depressed midwestern town which, having lost it's former Air Force Base and attendant civilian employment, jumps at the chance to win 25 million dollars cynically offered by a tobacco company's sales advisor (Newhart) as a PR gag to any town that can give up smoking for one month. They are rallied by the town's minister (Van Dyke) and the barber/mayor (Gardenia) to go for the prize, and a small world of comic unrest ensues.

This film has a number of milestones going for it— among them, Norman Lear's feature directorial debut, Randy Newman's first film score, Pippa Scott's cinematic return, and Edward Everett Horton's final film role.

Not enthusiastically released by it's studio in 1971, and subsequently sold to the home market only in pan-and-scan versions on VHS and Laser Disc, this is, I believe, the first time it has been available on DVD.

Unfortunately, this made-to-order-by-request DVD from Amazon is technically flawed. The print, while full wide screen, is dark and a bit dirty in places. Much worse is the sound track, which consists of a faux stereo re-formatting that is out-of-phase, causing any extended sound efx, sound ambiences, and most of the music scoring to sound as though they were coming out of a garden hose. Adding injury to insult, this out-of-phase track is mid-panned and duplicated on both channels, making it impossible
to even listen to one clear mono track from either channel.

And so, "Cold Turkey" has again regrettably and undeservedly gotten another bad release. Hopefully, Amazon will note my above remarks and remedy the situation with whomever unskilled bozo techs were subcontracted to make this DVD. Consider
this my sincere appeal to order the simple tech fixes necessary to present this show as it deserves to be seen. And if you read this, Mr. Lear, please follow suit and complain loudly. Your film is a worthwhile little gem. Thank you, Tom P. Bullock
10 people found this helpful
worstfilmsReviewed in the United States on October 25, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
A gem of a satire from Norman Lear
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Don't be scared off by the "DVD-R media" thing. The picture quality is good and the DVD comes in a real case with real artwork and a professional, though rather generic looking label. What it DOESN'T have is an on-screen DVD menu, subtitles (much needed), specific chapter stops at key scenes, or special features of any kind. Instead, the chapter stops are set every 5 minutes. You will miss these usual DVD perks but be delighted that this otherwise out of print film is finally being made available. Get it while you can! This gem of a satire was the directorial debut from Norman Lear and was released a month after the premiere of "All In The Family." The film is peppered with familiar and soon-to-be familiar faces. The film is listed as being in full screen but has a somewhat widescreen look with much wider than needed borders on the TV monitor and does not fill the entire screen lengthwise when it easily could (see my attached pictures). This takes some getting used to and hurts the overall enjoyment of the film. The sound is mono with some music cues being unusually loud. The print has some occasional dirt scratches but is very watchable. Be forewarned: DVD–R discs are not as durable as regular DVD discs. They seem to attract scratches and fingerprints from out of nowhere. The disc should be in its case at all times when it is not in the DVD player.
9 people found this helpful
NotvinnikReviewed in the United States on January 4, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
Cynical, mean spirited fun.
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Wonderful ensemble acting. Rather than leaning on the nominal star, Dick Van Dyke, the story gives the entire cast the opportunity to contribute to the hilarity. You know the setup. A tobacco company has offered to give $25,000,000.00 to any town that will pledge to give up smoking for 30 days. The plot ends up to have less to do with the difficulty of giving up an addiction (although of course that's a big part of it) than with the corrupting influence of greed and the lure of power.

For the most part, this is spot on. There are some typical cultural prejudices on display, the way in which the "right" is equated with ignorant fringe groups, or the sympathetic portrayal of the youth "protest culture". This is really minor, though, beside the sharp observation of human nature. Graham Jarvis, as the leader of that fringe group, is perfect as the small man who suddenly has a chance to order others around; his "Christopher Mott Society" signs the pledge when offered the chance to police its observance. The scenes in which Dick Van Dyke's minister character thinks he is talking things over with his wife are priceless, with the wife unable to get a word in edgewise. And Bob Newhart, as the tobacco publicist who sees his schemes going off the rails, increasingly projects quiet desperation, while he nervously assures his bosses that he has things in hand.

Most important, the movie never goes soft on us. When it seems for a moment that it might get sentimental, something happens, and we're back to cynical pessimism. I watched this on streaming; it comes with my Prime membership. If they take it off the "free" list, though, I'd consider buying it.
4 people found this helpful
bookwormserReviewed in the United States on June 25, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
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This looks to be a made on demand DVD, which I feel Amazon should require disclosure of such from the sellers of such DVD's and CD's. I haven't watched it yet but I will as my paternal grandparents lived in the town of Greenfield Iowa where this was made and in fact are both in the movie. So it's nice to see them by the way neither one smoked to begin with.
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