Dan DiNicola needed a date for a wedding in October 1978. He asked eight people.
DiNicola was then film critic for the Schenectady Gazette and would often receive letters from people commenting on his work.
Just for fun, he decided to ask some of his correspondents to watch a movie with him. And work as a critic for a day.
DiNicola had contacts at the 20th Century Fox movie studio and knew Phil Garvey, manager of the Cine 1-6 movie complex in Colonie’s Northway Mall. The Fox gang agreed to provide a print of Robert Altman’s “A Wedding,” which had opened during the late summer. Garvey opened his theater doors for a private Saturday morning matinee. Dan had four men and four women in his class.
“We met, screened the film, and two days later they turned in their reviews,” DiNicola said at the time. “We all had a great deal of fun.”
The movie, which features Carol Burnett and Mia Farrow in a manic family wedding, received mixed notices from the rookie review team, which included a Catholic priest, insurance agent and high school student.
“I found myself so busy trying to understand the relationships between characters of the wedding party, and to guess at their histories, that much of the movie passed me by,” wrote Dr. Arnold Ritterband of Schenectady.
“ ‘A Wedding’ is a movie that any one of us can relate to,” wrote Dolores Lorie Malloy, a drug store clerk from Scotia. “To have Carol Burnett, a favorite of mine, in one of the leading roles was a real bonus.”
Added Glenville’s Alan Dean, an engineer for the General Electric Co., “The story rang true; the people were real and this makes the whole thing believable.”
DiNicola had been hoping for nine reviewers. “Originally, an undertaker was in the group,” DiNicola wrote. “But he called at the last minute — unexpected Saturday morning business.”
DiNicola was The Gazette’s film critic until his death in 2010.
There was expected autumn business in October 1978. “Miss Hope” was campaigning for the Schenectady branch of the American Cancer Society. Teenagers were campaigning against yard litter — and raking leaves for after-school money.
Alice Manzi was working with marble and presented her piece “The Factory Worker” to the Schenectady Museum. Kids were working with McIntoshes — boys and girls from Schenectady’s Horace Mann School picked apples during a field trip to an orchard.