American Playhouse (1981– )
12 user 3 critic

Who Am I This Time? 

From a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. Christopher Walken is a shy hardware store employee. But whenever he takes a part in a local amateur theater production, he becomes the part completely-... See full summary »


Jonathan Demme


Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (story), Neal Miller (as Morton Neal Miller)

On Disc

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Episode cast overview:
Susan Sarandon ... Helene Shaw
Christopher Walken ... Harry Nash
Robert Ridgely ... George Johnson
Dorothy Patterson ... Doris
Caitlin Hart Caitlin Hart ... Lydia
Les Podewell Les Podewell ... Les
Aaron Freeman Aaron Freeman ... Andrew
Jerry Vile Jerry Vile ... Albert
Paula Frances Paula Frances ... Minnie
Mike Bacarella ... Stage Manager
Ron Parady Ron Parady ... Vern
Debbi Hopkins Debbi Hopkins ... Christie
Maria Todd Maria Todd ... Heather
Sandy McLeod Sandy McLeod ... Flirt #1
Edie Vonnegut Edie Vonnegut ... Flirt #2


From a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. Christopher Walken is a shy hardware store employee. But whenever he takes a part in a local amateur theater production, he becomes the part completely--while on stage. Susan Sarandon is new in town, a lonely itinerant telephone company employee. On a whim, she auditions for and gets the part of Stella to Walken's Stanley when the theater group does A Streetcar Named Desire. Before anyone realizes the growing affection between Helene and Stanley, she falls deeply in love with the sexy brute, not knowing what the real man is like. Written by Reid Gagle (with corrections by Fiona!)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Hinckley, Illinois, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The quotations recited by the actors in the various plays, from "Cyrano" to "A Streetcar named Desire" to "The Importance of Being Earnest", are often paraphrased. In the opening act, we watch Harry Nash deliver the final lines of "Cyrano," which were taken not from the well-known translations of the standard texts, but from the film adaptation Cyrano de Bergerac (1950) with translation by Brian Hooker. Edmond Rostand's final two words in the original French were "My panache!" which is usually used in translations. Hooker's version changes it to "My white plume!" Another slight variation occurs in the final lines, when Helene accepts Harry's proposal of marriage and says, "I hope that after we marry, you'll always look at me just like this... especially in front of other people!" In the original play by Oscar Wilde, the line is "I hope you will always look at me just like that, especially when there are other people present." See more »


[George finds Harry in the hardware store. They are both nervous: George because he will be directing a play for the first time, Harry because he is always nervous. First thing, Harry spills a box of nails from the shelf and they crash upon the floor]
George Johnson: Anyway, I suppose you heard about the, uh, the next play!
[pause. Harry's face is blank, giving nothing away, good or bad]
George Johnson: Well, they asked me to direct, Harry! And I, I know you've only worked with Doris before, so I hope that isn't a problem.
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User Reviews

how to act and love, by Demme and Vonnegut, starring Walken and Sarandon, what more could you want?
24 April 2008 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

To answer that question: that it was longer. Then again to counter that own point, maybe this was a film that was very close to Vonnegut's original story, thus not extending it to feature length or making it an actual theatrical release. As it is it should be just a trifle, but it's more than that. Director Jonathan Demme adds a light air of circumstance to the proceedings, and plants some of his trademarks (notably the precise positioning of the camera on faces, as we all know from most of his films) while letting the actors have at it. And it's quite an amazing piece for those who love theater, and how an actor's mind meets with heart. At the same time it's not sentimental; this story of a woman (Sarandon) who keeps moving from town to town and never settling anywhere or meeting anyone, and a man (Walken) who is an introvert who lets himself out through incredible community theatre productions, who meet on the set of Streetcar Named Desire and fall for each other in the oddest way is about as charming as one could imagine.

Aside from the power of seeing Walken take on iconic parts (i.e. Cyrano, Stanley Kowalski), he's fantastic at being incredibly subtle and at underplaying his meek clerk-turned-star. If you want to see him outside of being the Continental or giving gold watch speeches, come here. And Sarandon is excellent too, in a role that requires her to be compassionate and kind and understanding and blah blah and she does it without flinching in a step. It's short, and sadly not longer (though I'd love to see the 95 minute cut from Argentina!), but it's one of Demme's better efforts of the 90s, a true small-town chamber piece of love.

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