A boozy Broadway actress comes out of a 12-week cure to face the problems of her best friends as well as her needy daughter. She tries to balance the terrors of returning to work with the ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on the play "The Gingerbread Lady")
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Chapter Two (1979)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

George Schneider is an author whose wife had just died. His brother Leo gives him the number of Jennie Malone, and somehow they hit it off. And just when things are moving along, the memory... See full summary »

Director: Robert Moore
Stars: James Caan, Marsha Mason, Joseph Bologna
Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Susan is a young, beautiful and successful flute player, but because of her physical handicap, a lame leg, she is having difficulties finding Mr. Right. While on tour in France, she decides... See full summary »

Director: Édouard Molinaro
Stars: Kristy McNichol, Michael Ontkean, Kaki Hunter
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A small town stud wants to go to Nashville and be a big country star. His ambitious kid sister works as his manager. When they cross paths with a small town sheriff, their dream comes in jeopardy.

Director: Ron Maxwell
Stars: Kristy McNichol, Dennis Quaid, Mark Hamill
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Two fifteen year-old girls from different sides of the tracks compete to see who will be first to lose their virginity while at camp.

Director: Ron Maxwell
Stars: Tatum O'Neal, Kristy McNichol, Armand Assante
Starting Over (1979)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A divorced man falls in love, but somehow he can't get over his ex-wife. This affects his love life in comic ways. Based on Dan Wakefield's novel.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Candice Bergen
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An English teacher and struggling single mother has her life disrupted when the father who abandoned her as a child comes back into her life.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Jason Robards, Marsha Mason, Donald Sutherland
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

After being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, an unemployed dancer and her 10-year-old daughter are reluctantly forced to live with a struggling off-Broadway actor.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings
Forty Deuce (1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A young hustler tries to get drug money by selling a boy to a middle-aged man; his plans are disrupted when the kid dies.

Director: Paul Morrissey
Stars: Orson Bean, Kevin Bacon, Mark Keyloun
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

This film is made up of three segments that share no plot but have a general thematic relationship. In the first segment, Virginia and her three children are left by her shiftless husband ... See full summary »

Directors: Mirra Bank, Ellen Hovde, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Maria Tucci, David Strathairn, Kevin Bacon
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A lonely Navy sailor falls in love with a hooker and becomes a surrogate father figure for her son during an extended liberty due to his service records being lost.

Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: James Caan, Marsha Mason, Kirk Calloway
Only When I Laugh (1979–1982)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A rather naive, middle-class man is admitted to a hospital ward and finds that he is sharing it with a working-class layabout and an upper-class hypochondriac. All three of them cause headaches for the hospital staff.

Stars: James Bolam, Peter Bowles, Christopher Strauli
Love, Mary (TV Movie 1985)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A teen (Kristy McNichol), who is always in trouble in school and has been sent to reform school, turns her life around when a counselor (Rachel Ticotin) discovers she is dyslexic.

Director: Robert Day
Stars: Kristy McNichol, Matt Clark, David Paymer
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Polly Hines
...
...
Toby Landau
...
David Lowe
...
Vincent Heller (Lou)
...
Man in Bar
Ed Moore ...
Dr. Bob Komack
Byron Webster ...
Tom
Peter Coffield ...
Mr. Tarloff
Mark Schubb ...
Adam Kasabian
Ellen La Gamba ...
Receptionist
...
Nurse Garcia
Nancy Nagler ...
Heidi Stanton
...
Jason
Edit

Storyline

A boozy Broadway actress comes out of a 12-week cure to face the problems of her best friends as well as her needy daughter. She tries to balance the terrors of returning to work with the demands of all around her with humor and insight, while staying off the booze. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

new york city | based on play | See All (2) »

Taglines:

It'll make you laugh...'til you cry. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Neil Simon's Only When I Laugh  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

It is a characteristic insight by Neil Simon, who once admitted that he could not have written "Only When I Laugh", at least "not in its present form", without the experience of having raised his own two daughters. "You don't get nearly enough time to enjoy your kids and if you blow it, you'll never know what you missed", Simon once observed. "During the past few years, my oldest girl, Ellen, suddenly grew up. She became a wife, a mother, a woman in her own right. And I had to relinquish some of my precious parental rights. It wasn't easy. But I've always had an open relationship with Ellen and my younger daughter, Nancy, the kind I wished I had had, but didn't, with my own parents. And I found that the more I gave up, the more we came together, in a new and different way". His children, Simon adds, have frequently been his toughest critics. "They have said things to me which were so strong and honest that I was taken aback. But beneath it, there's always been affection and humor". See more »

Goofs

When Georgia arrives home from re-hab she waits outside her apartment door holding a full bouquet of pink roses and baby's breath wrapped in green tissue paper. The grouping of the pink roses and the baby's breath changes remarkably after she enters her apartment. See more »

Quotes

Toby: [as kids beat on her car] God damn them! Why do you live in this neighborhood? Why don't you move?
Georgia: Because, it only costs me $300 a month. It's a sublet from Mary Todd Lincoln.
See more »

Connections

References The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

Heart
from Damn Yankees! (1958)
Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
Performed by Kristy McNichol (uncredited) and Nancy Nagler (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Only When I Laugh-It Hurts So Much to Be So Good ***1/2
14 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Another marvelous Marsha Mason performance as a recently returning actress from rehabilitation.

Neil Simon's script is as crisp and vivid as ever. Too bad that both Miss Mason and Diane Keaton's performance in "Reds" were overlooked by the Academy when the Oscar went to the sentimental Katharine Hepburn for "On Golden Pond." Academy members were apparently voting for Henry Fonda for best actor in record numbers and just went down the line for Hepburn as well. What a shame.

The film deals with the frustrations and hopes of 3 people and that doesn't even include a worthy performance by Kristy McNichol as the daughter.

As the gay actor, desperately trying to succeed, the late James Coco was excellent. In the supporting category, he is well matched by the late Joan Hackett, tremendous as Mason's best friend, whose marriage is apparently falling apart.Those glittering grayish clothes that she wore expressed her emotions so well. No one could also wear those poncho outfits that Mason wore. They depicted a troubled, but independent lady.

This is an excellent case study of 3 friends in turmoil and how they try to cope while supporting each other emotionally. Trouble is that Georgia (Marsha Mason) allows herself to fall back and drink again. She says that as a youngster she wanted to be another Susan Hayward. She sure is crying tomorrow and smashing up her life.


3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
For those who wish to see this movie. xyanthus
James coco's performance. michaeldinan
Discuss Only When I Laugh (1981) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?