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Toni Simmons believes that the only reason her married lover won't leave his wife is because of the children. In truth, her lover, dentist Julian Winston, doesn't have any children. In fact, Julian doesn't even have a wife - he just tells women he does to avoid getting involved. When Julian does decide to take the plunge with Toni she insists on meeting the first wife and Julian enlists the aid of his long-time nurse/receptionist Stephanie Dickinson to play the part. Written by
A feel-good comedy with its title symbolism well justified
Florigraphists, fluent in the "language of flowers", revealing a symbolic, underlying meaning to sending or receiving floral arrangements, describe cactus flower as a symbol of lust (in Japan), as well as courtship and romance (among Native Americans). All three and many other modest or excessive feelings, relationships, experiences... are nicely wrapped up in a comedy suggesting same symbolism in its title.
1969 film "Cactus Flower", directed by Gene Saks (who has already introduced us, a year earlier, to another stage play classic adapted for the big screen, Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple") is a feel-good movie--based on Abe Burrows' Broadway stage adaptation of its witty French original, Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pieerre Grédy's play "Fleur de cactus"--scripted by a legendary comedic writer I.A.L. Diamond (who is, among his other memorable works, credited with the screenplay for an all-time favourite comedy "Some Like It Hot" (1959)), with impish dentist Walter Matthau, accompanied by his reputable nurse-receptionist Ingrid Bergman, coming across as likable and funny leads, further supported by young and sweet Goldie Hawn, in her Oscar awarded depiction of a-cute-dumb-blond stereotype.
Bergman's Stephanie Dickinson, for all her decency and selflessness, is a character who is easy to identify with and root for in her initially seemingly unconscious pursuit of her apparently long suppressed, quietly emerging affection for Matthau's Dr. Julian Winston, a rogue we cannot hate because he behaves like a boy from Mark Twain's novel, or Dennis the menace who has grown up and old, but never out of his mischievous ways. In his no-strings-attached wished for relationship with Hawn's sparkling Toni Simmons, he pretends to be married. However, this new "fact" tickles well meant youngster's curiosity, so, surely free spirited, but not unscrupulous as eventual household breaker, Toni, tormented by many unanswered questions becomes--as seen in the introductory scene--suicidal, and... what was meant to be a small "preventive" lie asks for more lies, ultimately spiraling out of control.
Interaction between the three, further helped with an additional "accomplice", Winston-like lovable cad Harvey Greenfield, played by Jack Weston, produces some truly hilarious and--specially when the most believable miss Dickinson is involved--touchy moments for a wide-range audience to enjoy. "Cactus Flower" easily stands the test of time and even improves with each repeated viewing.
Current year (2011) production "Just Go with It", a loose remake of the 1969 original, provides a solid, yet, somewhat inferior entertainment when compared to its predecessor.
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