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The Sunshine Boys (1975) Poster

(I) (1975)

Trivia

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were touted to play the lead roles but writer Neil Simon disagreed and maintained that the leads should be played by Jewish comedians. A number of actors were considered for the leads in the movie including Phil Silvers and Groucho Marx. The picture was actually cast with real-life Vaudeville veterans Jack Benny and Red Skelton, bizarrely, both had to be replaced. The film was finally cast with George Burns and Walter Matthau.
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Jack Benny was signed for the role eventually taken by George Burns. Ill health forced Benny to back out of the project due to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Benny recommended his friend Burns to replace him.
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On the DVD, 10 minutes of silent makeup tests of Jack Benny and Walter Matthau are included. Clapboard says the date was 9/18/74 and the cameraman was Joseph F. Biroc.
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Based on the lives and careers of vaudeville comics Joe Smith and Charles Dale (né Sultzer and Marks). Unlike the characters in the Broadway play and later film, Smith and Dale were almost inseparable friends. In fact, when Dale died in 1971, Smith commissioned a single tombstone to be prepared for them both, ordering that the inscription read "Smith and Dale." The pair's strained relationship is based on another old-time vaudeville duo, Gallagher and Shean, the latter of whom was Groucho Marx's uncle.
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Red Skelton was originally suggested for the role of Willy Clark, but when he was approached, he wanted what the producers felt was too much money, so they withdrew their offer. It has also been suggested that Skelton withdrew from the picture because the work was too "blue".
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At the age of 80, George Burns became the oldest Oscar-winning actor when he won for this movie. This record was broken by Jessica Tandy in 1990, and later by Christopher Plummer in 2012.
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The film was made and released about three years after its source play of the same name by Neil Simon was first performed in 1972. The original Broadway production of "The Sunshine Boys" opened at the Broadhurst Theater in New York on 20th December 20 1972 and ran for 538 performances until 21st April 1974. During its run, the play transferred to two other theaters, the Shubert Theatre on 30th October 1973 and then the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on 11th February 1974. The play was nominated for three Tony Awards in 1973 including Best Play, Best Actor in a Play (Jack Albertson) and Best Direction (Alan Arkin), but failed to win any. The play's setting is described in its introduction as: "An apartment in an old hotel on upper Broadway in New York City, a television studio and Willie's apartment." The play was Simon's ninth long-running hit.
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At the Golden Globe awards, during the acceptance speech with Walter Matthau, George Burns said: "I just came up here to help him up. That's all." The quip received a standing ovation.
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George Burns usually wore a hairpiece when he worked. The first scene we see of him in the film is one of few scenes he ever shot without it.
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Actors Sam Levene as Lewis and Jack Albertson as Clark originated the roles on Broadway. In the play's long run, they were later replaced with Lou Jacobi as Lewis and Jack Gilford as Clark.
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Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006.
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Woody Allen originally was asked to direct, but he was more interested in playing the role of Lewis and declined the offer. Twenty years later he would be cast as Lewis in The Sunshine Boys (1996).
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Jack Albertson was nominated for the 1973 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "The Sunshine Boys" for his portrayal of Willie Clark.
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The amount of time that Al Lewis and Willy Clark worked together was forty-three years.
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Al's daughter is named Doris but in the remake The Sunshine Boys (1996) she's renamed Carol which is the first name of the actress Carol Arthur who played her in this movie.
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F. Murray Abraham plays an uncredited mechanic. Of the two films that Abraham appeared in in 1975, both were works by Neil Simon, the other was The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975).
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Third of six appearances by Walter Matthau in a Neil Simon written film. The films include The Odd Couple (1968); Plaza Suite (1971); The Sunshine Boys (1975); California Suite (1978); I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982) with The Odd Couple II (1998) being his last.
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First feature film for George Burns for thirty-six years. Burns had not appeared in a movie since 1939 where he had starred in Honolulu (1939). The picture was considered Burns comeback movie, the comeback being considered one of the most significant ever in Hollywood film history.
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The film revived George Burns film career with the Oscar he won for it, Burns going on to star in a number of Hollywood comedies in the late 1970s and 1980s such as Oh, God! (1977), Oh, God! Book II (1980), Oh, God! You Devil (1984), Going in Style (1979), 18 Again! (1988) and Just You and Me, Kid (1979).
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One of around a half-a-dozen Neil Simon written films which have been remade. The movies include Plaza Suite (1971), The Odd Couple (1968), The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Sunshine Boys (1975), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Barefoot in the Park (1967) and The Out of Towners (1970).
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When George Burns won the Oscar, at his acceptance speech he said: "This is all so exciting. I've decided to keep making one movie every 36 years. You get to be new again." Later Burns added, "I'm thinking of taking on Gentile roles and becoming the new Robert Redford."
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Actor George Burns turned up at rehearsals having rote-learned the entire film script by heart. Burns had figured that this would make it harder for the producers to fire him if they had wanted to.
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One of three Neil Simon written films which actor-director-producer Richard Benjamin has worked on. Benjamin co-starred in The Sunshine Boys (1975) and directed The Goodbye Girl (2004) TV remake (also a producer) and the tele-movie Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001).
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One of eleven movies made by writer Neil Simon and producer Ray Stark. The films, most made at Rastar Pictures with film studio Columbia, include Murder by Death (1976), The Cheap Detective (1978), California Suite (1978), Chapter Two (1979), The Sunshine Boys (1975), Seems Like Old Times (1980), The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Slugger's Wife (1985), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986), Biloxi Blues (1988) and Lost in Yonkers (1993).
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Alan Arkin directed Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" on the Broadway stage. Arkin starred in Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972) onscreen.
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"The Sunshine Boys" play opened in London's West End on 17 May 2012 and ran for a 12-week run until 28 July 2012. It starred Danny De Vito' and Richard Griffiths. The season was de Vito's West End debut.
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The film has been remade four times for German television, in 1982, 1995, 1999 and 2001. Each time it has been known as "Sonny Boys". Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" was first remade in 1977 with The Sunshine Boys (1977), this being only about two years after this cinema feature was first released.
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Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" is the most often filmed feature of Simon's work having being filmed seven times, once for the cinema (this movie), with six remakes, with these all for television. The remakes are The Sunshine Boys (1977), The Sunshine Boys (1996), Sonny Boys (1982), Sonny Boys (1995), Sonny Boys (1999), and Sonny Boys (2001).
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Considered an old age version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple (1968). Walter Matthau would later co-star in Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995) with Jack Lemmon. Both Matthau and Lemon appeared in a number of Simon written films.
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