R.P.M. is a 1970 Stanley Kramer film about the student protest movement. Kramer made many films about social issues from the 1950s onwards. Anthony Quinn plays a well-liked professor at a West Coast university that is taken over by the students. He tries to play both sides, pleasing the students but also trying to restore some sense of order at the school.
It’s exactly what you would expect based on that description: it’s a bit heavy-handed, not that interesting, and not a great movie by any stretch—The Strawberry Statement is probably a better take on similar material (that’s also not a great movie, but it does have its laugh-out-loud moments and some interesting visuals.)
Ann Margaret plays his young girlfriend, and they make quite an odd couple, to say the least. It’s a fairly typical movie of that time, trying to tackle the counterculture but by people who a deeply square. Despite having the best of intentions, he can’t quite pull it off. The AIP movies were far better, despite being technically “exploitation movies,” because they were made by actual radicals. It might have worked with a younger filmmaker at the helm and Kramer producing, a role he took on many other films.
Quinn is good in his role, and of course Ann Margaret can act as well, but although the performances are solid it all falls a bit flat. There just isn’t that much that happens along the way.
R.P.M. comes in at 90 minutes, with an end you see coming. So while it’s OK, it’s one of the least hip movies to cover the counterculture, there are many other films from around the same time that do it much better (and even later films like Hair.)
The disc includes an interview with composer Barry De Vorzon, a commentary by film historian Paul Talbot, the isolated score, a TV spot and image gallery, plus a booklet with new and old writing on the film.