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California Suite (1978) Poster

Trivia

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Maggie Smith and Michael Caine's scenes arriving at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Oscars were filmed before The 50th Annual Academy Awards (1978). Director Herbert Ross, who shot the scenes outside, was nominated that year as Best Director for The Turning Point (1977) but lost. Caine and Smith were presenters on the night. In fact, if one stares at the TV during their pre-bar scene, an image of Richard Burton (nominated that year) is on the TV set.
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Diana Barrie (Maggie Smith) says that she wishes David Niven could accept her award for her because he would be witty and charming. In the play on which the movie is based, she says Michael Caine, but it was changed when Caine was cast as her husband.
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This film version had the luxury over any stage production by being able to be actually be filmed at the real life and famous Beverly Hills Hotel. The movie shot extensively inside and on the grounds of the hotel. Today the hotel's inside looks rather different, having been renovated for a whopping $150 million. Today a very strict no-filming policy is being enforced by the management, sparing its camera-shy celebrity guests of any media hassle.
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The original production of the "California Suite" by Neil Simon, a play in two acts, opened on 2nd April 1976 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and ran until 5th June 1976. The Broadway production of "California Suite" opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on 10th June 1976 and ran for 445 performances until 2nd July 1977.
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The play 'California Suite' featured four acts with the four main actors doubling-up playing two or three parts each. In this movie version, ten actors play the main ten roles.
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The film's four segments, the same as in the source play, were titled: "Visitors from New York", "Visitors from London", "Visitors from Philadelphia" and "Visitors from Chicago". Director Herbert Ross once said it was like filming four movies: "It was like making four films in one. It was like the play, in that we shot the four stories separately. But in the finished film, the episodes are edited together so that the action cuts back and forth between the episodes".
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This movie was made and released about two years after its source play of the same name by playwright Neil Simon was first performed in 1976.
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The artworks with California themed motifs that are featured during the opening titles were painted by pop artist David Hockney.
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The room number of the suite in the film's source play was Suite No. 203-04 in the Beverly Hills Hotel. The film features the characters in four different hotel suites as the action cuts between the four episodes which in the play were set in the one hotel suite at different times, one per act.
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The character name of Diana Nichols was changed from the play to Diana Barrie (played by Maggie Smith) for the movie. Similary, Sidney Nichols became Sidney Cochran (Michael Caine). Moreover, Stu Franklyn and his wife Gert and Mort Hollender and his wife Beth in the play became respectively in the movie Dr. Chauncey Gump and his wife Lola and Dr. Willis Panama and his wife Bettina.
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The suites, lobby, entrance and polo lounge were not filmed at the Beverly Hills Hotel but were recreated on studio sound-stages to allow flexibility in shooting with removable walls. The lobby, entrance and polo lounge set measuring 6,176 square feet, was recreated on one massive sound stage at the Burbank Studios' Columbia Ranch. The hotel rooms and suites were shot on Stage 4 of the Burbank Studios. However, tennis court and swimming-pool scenes were shot at the real life hotel.
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The second of Neil Simon's "Suite" movies, the others being Plaza Suite (1971) (remade as Plaza Suite (1987)) and London Suite (1996).
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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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First of two 'Neil Simon' written films starring Alan Alda. The second would be Jake's Women (1996) eighteen years later.
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Director Herbert Ross directed five films written by Neil Simon. They were Max Dugan Returns (1983), California Suite (1978), The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Sunshine Boys (1975), and I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982).
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One of the film's stars, actress-writer-director Elaine May, previously directed another Neil Simon written film, The Heartbreak Kid (1972), but did not appear in it. Also a writer, May though never worked as a screenwriter on one of Simon's works.
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Fourth of sixth appearances by Walter Matthau in a Neil Simon written film. The others were The Odd Couple (1968); Plaza Suite (1971); The Sunshine Boys (1975) and I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982) with The Odd Couple II (1998) being his last.
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Actor Walter Matthau was the only cast member from Neil Simon's earlier "Suite" movie Plaza Suite (1971) that appeared in this film.
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Teamed together for their scenes, actors Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor had previously starred together around four years earlier in Uptown Saturday Night (1974).
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Writer Neil Simon wrote the "California Suite" play and later film script when he moved to California to be closer to the Hollywood film industry.
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Walter Matthau's son David Matthau appears in a small role as a bellboy.
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The movie was selected to be the 1979 Royal Film Performance at London's Odeon Theatre, proceeds going to benefit the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund.
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Reportedly, the film's eight lead actors were all the first choices of writer Neil Simon, director Herbert Ross and producer Ray Stark.
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Herbert Ross, the film's director, once likened this movie to being in the style of the Hollywood classic Grand Hotel (1932).
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The movie featured a number of veterans of Neil Simon movies. Jane Fonda had starred in Barefoot in the Park (1967); Maggie Smith had ensembled in Murder by Death (1976); Elaine May had directed The Heartbreak Kid (1972) whilst this was Walter Matthau's fourth Neil Simon film after Plaza Suite (1971), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and The Odd Couple (1968). Producer Ray Stark and director Herbert Ross previously collaborated on The Sunshine Boys (1975) and The Goodbye Girl (1977).
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The picture is considered similar to the earlier Neil Simon written film Plaza Suite (1971) as they both involve comedy and drama centering around guests staying in a luxury hotel suite. The movie was made and released about seven years after Plaza Suite (1971) .
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The name of the Diana Barrie (Maggie Smith) movie that she was Oscar nominated for and starred in with James Coburn (which is seen on the plane at the start of the film and again referenced on a plane at the film's end) was "No Left Turns". The name of the Oscar winner of the short documentary at the Academy Awards was "The Midgets of Leipzig".
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Teamed together for their segment, actors Walter Matthau and Elaine May had previously starred together around seven years earlier in A New Leaf (1971).
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Actors Jane Fonda and Michael Caine both previously starred together about eleven years earlier in Hurry Sundown (1967) but they shared no scenes together in this movie.
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In the opening credits, famous 70s artworks of British artist David Hockney are featured. The painting before Elaine May's name is entitled "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures), 1972" and features a swimming pool with the Hollywood hills in the backdrop. The "two figures", both male, one swimming and the other standing over watching have been mysteriously edited out of the picture for some unknown reason.
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When Herbert Ross attended the 1978 Academy Awards, he directed the arrivals sequence for this picture at the actual event. Coincidentally, Ross had two films in contention on the night, The Turning Point (1977) (11 nominations) for which he was nominated for both Best Director and Best Picture (Ross won neither) and The Goodbye Girl (1977) (5 nominations), another film written by Neil Simon which Ross had directed but was not Oscar nominated for. Ross once said: "It was so bizarre, the whole thing. I was glad to be working on the California Suite (1978) scenes. They kept my mind off the doom I knew I was going to follow. It was eerie".
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The "Diana and Sidney" one-act segment from Neil Simon's "London Suite" play features the Diana and Sidney characters from Simon's California Suite (1978) play and film. In California Suite (1978), Diana is portrayed by Maggie Smith (who won an Oscar for the part) whilst Sidney is played by Michael Caine. In London Suite (1996), Diana is played by Patricia Clarkson whilst Sidney is played by Kelsey Grammer. The London Suite (1996) Diana and Sidney characters are based on the California Suite (1978) Diana and Sidney characters, except the names have been changed slightly. In London Suite (1996), they are called Diana Nichols and Sidney Nichols, whereas in California Suite (1978), they were known as Diana Barrie and Sidney Cochran.
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One of three 1978 films that actor Michael Caine appeared in that year. The movies were The Swarm (1978), California Suite (1978) and Silver Bears (1978).
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According to an interview with Maggie Smith on 60 Minutes (1968), Herbert Ross was very difficult to work with. She also stated that she was told that Ross reduced Walter Matthau to tears.
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The movie was made and released about four years after the similarly titled Robert Altman film California Split (1974).
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Cameo 

James Coburn:  Uncredited, as the pilot in Diana Barrie (Maggie Smith)'s in-flight movie on the airplane.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Michael Caine plays a character called Sydney Cochran whose bi-sexuality/homosexuality is revealed to his wife in the film. Caine would also later play in another film a bisexual whose bi-sexuality/homosexuality is also revealed and also named Sidney (Sidney Bruhl). This film was [SPOILER ALERT] --- Deathtrap (1982).
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Maggie Smith's character, Diana Barrie, is nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award but loses the Oscar, but Maggie Smith actually won an Oscar for portraying her, an Oscar loser. Moreover, Maggie Smith is the only actress to ever win an Oscar for playing an Oscar nominee / Oscar loser. Cate Blanchett would later win an Oscar for playing four time Academy Award Winner Katharine Hepburn).
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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