Truth to tell, this week's SSCE entry isn't so much an explosion as an implosion. For the second week running, quite by chance, we find ourselves down in the depths of terrible '70s cinema.
It's natural enough, once a star becomes established and can claim a certain proven box-office appeal, for him or her (or his or her management) to want to stretch a little, try something different. Sometimes it works - Heartburn, for example, while not a huge hit, showed audiences that Meryl Streep was more than a Solemn Accent, setting the stage for Death Becomes Her and Postcards from the Edge later on. Sometimes it doesn't (here's my nightmare triple feature: Kay Francis in The White Angel, Joan Crawford in The Gorgeous Hussy, and Ginger Rogers in The Magnificent Doll. There seems to have been something about period drama that both drew and proved totally beyond some of the Great Ladies).
Well, the picture above is one of the latter. Somehow, after the success of Nashville and The Late Show (the latter a too-little-seen gem), Lily Tomlin, or Jane Wagner, or both of them, became inexplicably convinced that what Hollywood really needed was another earnest Clayburghesque leading lady, and that Lily was just the dame to take on that yoke. The lamentable result was 1978's Moment by Moment, a Rather Different May-December drama that, if nothing else, proved definitively that if both leads in a romance are going to have Kinsey scores above 3, they both better be the same gender.
Actually, had Wagner-Tomlin had the courage of their convictions and just gone ahead and cast, say, Margaux Hemingway (or maybe even baby sister Mariel) in place of John Travolta, the picture could have been a real trailblazer. The hot-tub scene, particularly, looks more or less exactly what late-seventies big-budget lesbian porn could have looked like (slap a moustache on Lily and it's a dead ringer for a Falcon loop). As it is, despite sporting a superb and apparently all-Qiana late-'70s wardrobe, Lily looks about as much at ease as - well, as Ginger Rogers in Dolley Madison drag. As for Travolta, if there's one thing he can play well, it's vacant, so despite a level of discomfort visible from space, he doesn't come off so badly.
Unless you're willing to commit piracy, this may be as close to seeing MbyM as you get (although there is, if you're feeling truly masochistic, a 10-minute version of this shorter tribute available on YouTube, courtesy of user momentbymoment78, no less. That doughty soul also authored this digest of what he/she boldly claims is "my all-time favorite film"). The movie has never been released for the home market, although bootlegs do circulate. There is, I suppose, a distant possibility that it's actually a misunderstood masterpiece, someday to resurface to universal acclaim. I'll believe that about that same time I believe in the possibility of a watchable Cybil Shepherd musical.