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Only When I Laugh (1981)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  25 September 1981 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 781 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 4 critic

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 »

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Title: Only When I Laugh (1981)

Only When I Laugh (1981) on IMDb 6.5/10

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Georgia
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Polly
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...
Toby
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David
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Lou: an Actor
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Boxing Fan in Bar
Ed Moore ...
Dr. Komack
Byron Webster ...
Tom
Peter Coffield ...
Mr. Tarloff
Mark Schubb ...
Adam Kasabian
Ellen La Gamba ...
Receptionist
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Nurse Garcia
...
Manuel
Nancy Nagler ...
Heidi
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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:

Kristy McNichol is a daughter who never had a childhood. Marsha Mason is a mother who never grew up. And when they get together, they're the most mismatched roomates since "The Goodbye Girl". See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Neil Simon's Only When I Laugh  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie marks the only ever time that a Neil Simon written film has had a different title to the Neil Simon play that it is based on. The source play was called "The Gingerbread Lady". See more »

Goofs

In one of the opening scenes when Marsha Mason's character is leaving the "Betty Ford Clinic" of the time, there is an employee, Sandy, who passes her by the stairs says good-bye but addresses her as Mrs. Simon instead Mrs. Hines the character's real name. See more »

Quotes

Polly: Who redid my room?
Jimmy: She hates it, I can tell.
Polly: It's a little Brady Bunch, but I can work with it.
Jimmy: The room is wonderful! Get rid of the kid!
See more »

Connections

Version of Drobecky z perníku (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

HEART
from "DAMN YANKEES"
Music and Lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
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User Reviews

 
Marsha Mason's finest film performance in an absorbing comedy-drama.

Those disappointed in this film because it is not the typical laugh a minute Neil Simon comedy are similar to those who don't like Woody Allen's INTERIORS (his best film) because he chose to create a drama, rather than what the public expected, another amiable comedy. They "expect" but they don't "experience." Mr. Simon also wrote another essentially dramatic play, CHAPTER TWO, which was similarly criticized. ONLY WHEN I LAUGH is adapted from his serious play, THE GINGERBREAD LADY, which starred Maureen Stapleton on stage. Marsha Mason earned her fourth Oscar nom for her work here and should have won the Oscar for my money. It is not only her best performance on film, carefully balancing a line between drama and comedy, but it was heads above any of the other four nominees that year. Some years there is no justice where the Academy is concerned. Precariously trying to balance a stalled acting career with the nurturing of needy friends and a daughter who requires a full-time mother, Ms. Mason's Georgia is also an alcoholic, desperately trying to escape reality. This is a complex role and a complex performance, full of detail and played on many levels. I have never seen the mood swings of alcoholism better played than here in Ms. Mason's work - the manic euphoria and the bitter despair. It is a triumph and a career cap. Equally fine are Mr. Simon's incisive character writing and the fine justly Oscar-nominated supporting performances of James Coco and sadly doomed Joan Hackett (who won a Golden Globe Award for her work here). Kristy McNichol is superb as well and rightly should have been Oscar nominated in support. Once again Ms. Mason shows how adept she is at playing mothers - the relationship she establishes with Ms. McNichol is wonderful to behold. Oddly enough, in this film it is the mother who is more the child and the daughter who is parentified. All in all, an absorbing and satisfying film about people you come to care for - one of Mr. Simon's best and Ms. Mason's pinnacle.


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