Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Comedy 2: California dreaming ...

Going back to CALIFORNIA SUITE is like meeting an old friend, this 1976 Neil Simon comedy still delivers. Gosh,this was from before we even had video, so one had to go the cinema a few times to see it. 

Herbert Ross directs, and the credits have some David Hockney artwork, which creates the mood for California here, as our four lots of guests arrive at the hotel. English actress Maggie Smith is in town for the Academy Awards - after all her high profile theatre work she is nominated for a silly little comedy - and the husband (Michael Caine) relishes the high life as a change from his antiques business, and maybe he is a closet gay ..... Maggie has her suspicions, will they be confirmed? 

Jane Fonda scores as the acerbic journalist from New York meeting up with her ex-husband to discuss their daughter - he is now a laid-back Californian, with his "little boy" look and pastel colours. The other two sketches are played for broad comedy - two dentists who cannot stop competing with each other - Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby - plus their wives (who don't have much to do and are not named on the poster with the other stars), who get into all kinds of arguments and scrapes, eventually one gets weary of their slapstick; and then the Jewish episode: Walter Matthau attending his nephew's bar mizvah wakes up to find a hooker sent by his brother still asleep and he cannot wake her, just as his wife, the great Elaine May, is about to arrive.

So, four sketches of varying amusement, but the Smith and Fonda ones take precedence. Whether Maggie is worrying about her hump, her dress, her hair or if her husband is gay, or flapping those wrists she is endlessly entertaining. Fonda smokes, goes for a swim, shows her toned body and sarcastically banters with her ex-husband - Alan Alda, perfect here.  

Maggie has some great lines: She never knows how to dress for America - in Engand "you just put on warm clothing".  She does not win the Oscar here, but did for her role in the film. In all, as amusing as Simon's PLAZA SUITE.

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