Director Herbert Ross’s 1978 comedy presents four fairly sharp, mostly funny playlets linked only by their setting at the Beverly Hills Hotel, in Los Angeles, and by coming from a stage play by Neil Simon, based on his Broadway hit. Simon writes his own screenplay.
In the most endearing of the stories, Maggie Smith is on Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winning form as an English theatre star nominated for an Oscar and fighting with her gay husband (Michael Caine) after they have come over from England for the Academy Awards.
But Walter Matthau and Elaine May score strongly too in their comedy about a hung-over husband who wakes up to find a passed-out hooker (Denise Galik), whom he has now got to remove pretty darned quick before his wife (May) arrives that day. Matthau’s brother (Herb Edelman) has sent the hooker to his room where he has arrived a day before his wife for his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah.
In the considerably less successful also-ran tales, ex-marrieds Jane Fonda and Alan Alda fight after Fonda comes from New York and meets California-based Alda, and doctors Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby do battle when they find there is only one room vacant after they have come with their wives to the hotel to relax and play tennis.
Uneven though it may be, overall the result is bright and entertaining.
It is Smith’s second Oscar after her Best Actress win for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Matthau and Edelman are also in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.
Neil Simon was born on 4 in The Bronx.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4021
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