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With All the Sunshine Willie and Al Spread..................................
Taking over roles that Jack Albertson and Sam Levene played on Broadway, Walter Matthau and George Burns play a couple of old time vaudeville comics, a team in the tradition of Joe Smith and Charles Dale who seem to have a differing outlook on life.
Walter Matthau can't stop working, the man has never learned to relax, take some time and smell the roses. He's a crotchety old cuss whose best days are behind him and his nephew and agent Richard Benjamin is finding less and less work for him.
What hurt him badly was that some 15 years earlier his partner George Burns decided to retire and spend some time with his family. A workaholic like Matthau can't comprehend it and take Burns's decision personally.
Benjamin hits on a brain storm, reunite the guys and do it on a national television special. What happens here is pretty hilarious.
The Sunshine Boys is also a sad, bittersweet story as well about old age. Matthau is on screen for most of the film, but it's Burns who got the kudos in the form of an Oscar at the ripe old age of 79.
Burns brought a bit of the personal into this film as well. As we all know he was the straight man of the wonderful comedy team of Burns&Allen who the Monty Python troop borrowed a lot from. In 1958 due to health reasons, Gracie Allen retired and George kept going right up to the age of 100. Or at least pretty close to as an active performer.
The Sunshine Boys is based on the team of Smith&Dale however and if you like The Sunshine Boys I strongly recommend you see Two Tickets to Broadway for a look at a pair of guys who were entertaining the American public at the turn of the last century. The doctor sketch that Matthau and Burns do is directly from their material.
And I do think you will like The Sunshine Boys.
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