Moment by Moment (1978) 720p

Movie Poster
Moment by Moment (1978) - Movie Poster
Drama | Romance
Frame Rate:
23.976 (24000/1001) FPS
Run Time:
102 min
IMDB Rating:
2.9 / 10 
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Directors: Jane Wagner [Director] ,

Movie Description:
One year after "Saturday Night Fever," John Travolta starred in this love story between a young drifter and an older woman - Lily Tomlin. The characters are savagely portrayed, and the story is set against a backdrop of shrink-riddled and over-privileged society.


  • Moment by Moment (1978) - Movie Scene 1
  • Moment by Moment (1978) - Movie Scene 2
  • Moment by Moment (1978) - Movie Scene 1

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A film with few defenders and fewer fans that deserves a closer look

When I was a teenager, I scoured bad movie review websites because A) I thought they were funny, and B) it was a way to discover movies I'd never heard of. Sometimes when I actually saw those movies, I agreed with the critics, but other times I thought they were way off. Sure, some bashed movies don't deserve good reviews, such as Monster a Go-Go (the worst movie ever made, in my opinion), but others were merely misunderstood. It's clear that when this movie came out, nobody understood what Jane Wagner was trying to say with Moment by Moment.

But if she's reading this today, I want her to know that I got it, and I think the movie is unjustly overlooked.

Most people are so put off by the early, awkward as hell encounters between Tomlin and Travolta that they immediately label the movie as a turkey. But what nobody seems to realize is, those scenes were *meant* to be awkward as hell. And as likeable as Strip (Travolta) seems, we understand why Trish (Tomlin) is put off by him-any woman can tell you (if you bother to listen) how uncomfortable strange men make her when they come on so strong. It's very rare that a movie shows you how the woman feels in such an encounter-too many movies show such behavior as "romantic" and that the woman actually likes such attention. Trish clearly doesn't like it for a long stretch of the movie, but she begins to trust Strip all the same, once she gets used to him, and she eventually sees him like the audience does.

The most telling line of dialogue is one that many people miss-when Trish's ex-husband picks a fight with her over her relationship with Strip, he asks how old he is, and Trish responds that he is about as old as the woman with whom her ex had the affair that ended their marriage. The ex responds that it's "worse" for Trish because she's a woman, and it's a double-standard that Trish can't understand. This message of the movie is underplayed because it would have only turned audiences further off to suggest that her relationship with Strip (which critics and audiences alike bashed) would be considered the same as many celebrated, mainstream movies with a middle aged leading man with a girlfriend in her twenties who finds him irresistible. This is a trope so common in American cinema that to see it reversed is a novelty, but one that audiences couldn't accept. This reflects the inherent sexism of many male viewers (whether they want to admit it or not) that only like movies with passive, un-intrusive heroines that don't speak their minds. And it is male ticket buyers that tend to determine whether or not a film is a success (note how many of the critics that hated Moment by Moment were men).

But Travolta is really the revelation here. Very few major movies with a hot actor of the time are willing to put him on the screen and allow him to be *truly* vulnerable, but this movie lets him do it, and the scenes where he describes his childhood are magically heartbreaking. The scene where he accuses Trish of using him for "cheap sex" also broke my heart. The idea of putting a young, male actor in a romantic movie and making him the vulnerable one (rather than his co-star), is very seldom seen in hit movies, and audiences weren't ready for that in 1978 in the wake of Saturday Night Fever and Grease (both of which featured Travolta as a "tough guy").

The awkwardness of the early scenes make this movie a hard sell to most people, and yes, some of the dialogue comes across as weird because we're so used to Hollywood movies where everybody speaks with wit, unnatural wit. But Moment by Moment has its heart in the right place, and didn't deserve to be branded a camp classic.

Hey! It was the 70s!!!

This movie is not that awful if you put it in the context of the era in which it was made. The acting was good, they was a connection and it really wasn't that far fetched. Ms Tomlin was very attractive in this film and definitely could of done some more romantic roles. I like romance, so I liked this film. This is as good as William Holden's, Breezy, Tom Hanks', Everytime We Say Goodbye and Anthony Hopkin's, A Change of Seasons.

This is what no chemistry looks like

If there's one thing that a love story needs is for the two leads to have chemistry. You know, that unspoken thing between them that makes their movie believable. And in this movie we actually see what negative chemistry looks like. That's right, the chemistry between Lily Tomlin and John Travolta is so terrible that it actually goes into negative integers.

The story itself is pretty generic. Tomlin plays a rich divorced woman and Travolta plays a drifter. They run into each other, Travolta stalks her, keeps showing up at her house and eventually they wind up in bed together. And that's it.

This was so badly received that once it's short theatrical run was over, it never got an official release. If you've seen the movie, you'll understand why.
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