Film version of the Neil Simon play has three separate acts set in the same hotel suite in New York's Plaza Hotel with Walter Matthau in a triple role. In the first, Karen Nash tries to get... See full summary »
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Film version of the Neil Simon play has three separate acts set in the same hotel suite in New York's Plaza Hotel with Walter Matthau in a triple role. In the first, Karen Nash tries to get her inattentive husband Sam's attention to spruce up their failing marriage. In the second, brash film producer Jesse Kiplinger tries to get his former one-time flame Muriel to see him for what he stands for. In the third, Roy Hubley and his wife Norma try and try to get their uncertain-of-herself daughter out of the bathroom before her approaching wedding. Written by
The film was made and released about three years after its source play of the same name by Neil Simon was first performed in 1968. The original Broadway production of the play opened at the Plymouth Theater on 14th February 1968 and ran for 1097 performances until 3rd October 1970. The play was nominated for three 1968 Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Actress - Maureen Stapleton. The Broadway stage production was directed by Mike Nichols who won the Tony for Best Director. Stapleton and Jose Ocasio reprise their roles in this movie version. See more »
In Act I, the length of Sam Nash's mustache varies between shots. See more »
I expected this 1971 film to be a bright comedy. Instead I was presented with the filming of a very deep three-part stage play about the dark side of human relationships; only the last of the three stories could really be called funny.
A bride-to-be locks herself in the bathroom and her parents go through all kinds of hilarious slapstick agony trying to persuade her to come out. It is free of the darker undertones of the first two vignettes and has a cute surprise ending with a happy message. The other two, while being wry and witty in places, are really commentaries on the nature of man's unfaithfulness and exploitation of women, and women's culpability in allowing that state of affairs to develop and continue.
Walter Matthau plays the lead in each of the three stories, which take place in the same suite, 719, of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. He has different leading ladies in each one: Maureen Stapleton, Barbara Harris and Lee Grant. There are a few incidental characters but the stories revolve around the two main characters in each story. The dialogue is quite true to real life, even appearing to be repetitive and meaningless in places as real life conversations can be, but the playwright is taking us in each case to a specific understanding of the characters. There is nothing extraneous even though at first it appears to be cluttered with incidentals.
In the first story, a husband and wife check into the Plaza Hotel for their anniversary - and then things begin to fall apart. Maureen Stapleton as the seemingly scatterbrained wife is brilliant in playing both the tragic and comic aspects of this complicated role. As the story unfolds we realize things are not as they appear on the surface.
In the second story, a sleazy Hollywood businessman calls up various names in his little black book so that he can have some woman - any woman - come to his suite for sex from 2 to 4 between meetings. The woman from his past whom he persuades to show up is both afraid of the possible seduction and hoping he will talk her into it. This is all too painful and familiar a scenario and anyone will relate to the awkward dance between two individuals who have to try to save face while getting their needs met.
If you are looking for a light and fluffy comedy this is not the one to choose. It will disturb you and make you think about the tragic aspects of love, sex and marriage, long after it is over.
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