Any time I participate in a blogathon, I try to choose a film or topic that brings something different to the event. This allows my entry to stand out, as well as offer a sense of variety to the blogathon’s subject. When searching Joan Collins’ filmography, for Realweegiemedget Reviews’ Joan Collins Blogathon, I came across the 1983 television movie, Making of a Male Model. What intrigued me to the point of wanting to watch it was how it told a story from a completely different perspective. In films that revolve around modeling or the fashion industry, the story usually focuses on a female protagonist. With Making of a Male Model, a man is entering the modeling world. Out of the films I’ve seen involving modeling, the only one featuring a male model in the starring cast is the Disney movie, Model Behavior. Add the fact I’ve haven’t seen many of Joan’s projects, I am definitely eager to start this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Because Joan Collins’ involvement in this movie is one of the reasons why I chose to review this film, I’ll talk about her performance first. In stories where the head of a fashion or modeling firm is one of the main characters, they either have an obvious self-centered personality or they come across as emotionally distant. With Joan’s portrayal of Kay Dillon, she brought something different to a role like this. For most of the film, Kay appeared genuinely kind-hearted and nurturing. The only times Kay sounds self-centered is when she is upset. When Kay and Tyler discuss their plans over lunch is a perfect example, as she explains how she can’t spend much time with him because she had spent ten years building her career. Speaking of Tyler, I enjoyed watching Jon-Erik Hexum’s performance! He did a good job portraying a character in his specific situation. At the beginning of the movie, Tyler is a “fish out of water”, overwhelmed by the modeling world and taken aback by some of the things that take place in that world. As the film progresses, Tyler gains more confidence and his perspective begins to change. I also liked Jeff Conaway’s portrayal of Chuck Lanyard! It was dramatic and emotional without being over-the-top. One of Jeff’s best scenes is when his character is comparing the modeling world to a stage play. That scene proved to me Jeff has the talents for a Broadway show!
The costume design: In one scene, Tyler and Kay attend a costume party. The costumes were so elaborate and detailed, I honestly thought they were going to the Met Gala! One of the party goers wore a large hat in the shape of eyes. The piece around the blue eyes appeared periwinkle, with the hat portion blending into a pretty purple. Kay’s dress was absolutely gorgeous! It was covered in sparkles, allowing the dress to shine whenever Joan moved. The top of the dress was gold, with the skirt adopting an ombre design of blue and purple. A clear jeweled collar completed the look. During a photo shoot, one of the models was wearing a hat with a bird on it. The bird was covered in purple jewels, sparkling anytime the model moved her head. It was such a cool piece that I’d love to have in my wardrobe!
An insightful look into the world of modeling/advertising: Out of the episodes of Murder, She Wrote I’ve seen, my favorite one is ‘Film Flam’. One of the reasons is the behind the scenes look at how a movie premiere is organized. Throughout Making of a Male Model, the world of modeling and advertising is explored. When Tyler goes to apply for a catalogue modeling job, he is turned down due to his appearance and his lack of a portfolio. This instance shows how fast-paced this particular world can be and how one must always be prepared to bring a good first impression. At one point in Tyler’s journey, Tyler takes part in television commercials. Before a commercial for cologne was filmed, the director conducted a practice run in order to help Tyler remember what to do. It was interesting to see how the sets were constructed, how far the crew was willing to go to create an image or an idea. It was also interesting to see the prep work that goes into creating a commercial.
What I didn’t like the film:
Lack of on-screen chemistry: During the film, Tyler and Kay form a romantic relationship. However, I never sensed a spark between them. Jon-Erik and Joan worked well together from an acting perspective. But when it came time for their characters to become intimate, it felt like they were following story points within a script instead of allowing their characters to form a connection. Tyler and Kay’s relationship comes to fruition after the costume party I mentioned earlier. But up until that moment, Tyler and Kay did not express any interest in falling in love with each other. So, the formation of their relationship, from a story telling perspective, felt forced and random.
Following the same beats: As I said in the introduction, I wanted to watch Making of a Male Model because it told a model’s story from a man’s perspective, which is not often explored in the world of cinema. Because of this, I was expecting the movie to tell a different kind of story from others of this nature. Sadly, it was just more of the same. The story followed a lot of the same beats as other modeling/seeking fame films. Making of a Male Model featured tropes such as “the two-faced boss”, “a cautionary tale about fame and fortune”, and “a friend in crisis”. This movie had an opportunity to take different avenues of the modeling or advertising world that either haven’t been or are rarely discussed in film. But that opportunity was not taken advantage of.
Telling more than showing: There were some moments in Making of a Male Model where characters told more than showed what was happening. As I already mentioned, Chuck compares the modeling world to a stage play. I did like Chuck’s monologue and Jeff’s performance. However, because this monologue was given before Tyler’s modeling career began, it denied the audience a chance of seeing Tyler’s journey firsthand, without being spoiled. At the costume party, a man named Ward accuses Kay of breaking a contract. It gets to the point where Ward starts causing a scene. Since this accusation is presented as hearsay, it is never determined who was telling the truth.
My overall impression:
I know that stories are bound to get repeated overtime. But there is a fine line between telling similar stories and rehashing material. Making of a Male Model fits into the latter category, as the same tropes are adopted from other films of this nature. Honestly, this disappoints me because I was expecting more from this movie. Despite finding Making of a Male Model to be just ok, there are aspects of the film I liked. One of them is the insightful look at the modeling/advertising world. This part of the story held my interest, as I found it to be a fascinating exploration. With that in mind, I think the concept of this movie would have worked better as a television show or documentary.
Before I finish this review, I’d like to let my readers know I did choose another book from my TBR Tin. For those who don’t know, I announced in January how I would choose which book to read next from a hot chocolate tin I won last year. My second TBR Tin book of the year is
(insert drumroll here)
Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn!
Yes, this is a book I said I was going to read in 2019. But I’m glad to finally get around to reading it!
Overall score: 6.1 out of 10
Have you seen Making of a Male Model? Which projects of Joan Collins’ have you watched? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!