Release year: 1969
Director: Gene Saks
Screenwriter: Abe Murrows (based on the stage play by), I.A.L. Diamond
Starring: Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn, Jack Weston, Rick Lenz, Vito Scotti, Irene Hervey, Eve Bruce
Ratings: 1 Oscar: best Supporting Actress (Goldie Hawn), 1 Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actress (Goldie Hawn), 4 Golden Globe nominations: Best Comedy/Musical, Best Actress Comedy/Musical (Ingrid Bergman), Best Original Song, Most Promising Newcomer – Female (Goldie Hawn).
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #319, week 31 2020
To avoid commitment dentist Julian Winston (Matthau) pretends to be married. But when he falls hard for his girlfriend Toni (Hawn) and want to marry her, problems arise. Toni makes a big deal out of honesty and Julian begs his trusted secretary Stephanie (Bergman) to play his wife.
This charming rom-com would be noteworthy alone for the fact, that it introduced the cinematic world to the wonderful Hawn (Private Benjamin, 1980) even in her only Oscar winning performance. With short hair emphasizing her waiflike figure and looking impossible young, she is still recognizable as the comedy queen she became throughout the 1980s. Both Matthau (The Odd Couple, 1968) and Bergman (Casablanca, 1942) are excellent with Bergman even managing the seemingly impossible task of looking mousy as the overlooked secretary with wife ambitions, but Hawn is the breath of fresh air and splash of colour, which makes the movie stand out. The comedy grows from scene to scene as the lies spawns more lies and situations and relationships are affected by a lack of (honest) communication as it becomes more and more obvious for everyone but the characters who belongs with who. Funny and charming with Hawn as the sparkling diamond in the middle of it all.
The three kids seen behind the GTO in the GM 5th Avenue showroom during Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn‘s NY walkabout are Walter Matthau’s children David Matthau and Jenny Matthau and I.A.L. Diamond‘s son Paul Diamond.
The play had been a comeback vehicle for Lauren Bacall following several years of inactivity once screen roles dried up. “Cactus Flower” was an enormous hit on Broadway, and Bacall garnered strong personal notices for her performance as Stephanie, playing the role for nearly two years. She was understandably disappointed when producer M.J. Frankovich cast Ingrid Bergman in the film version.
The drink “Mexican Missile” that figures prominently at the end of the movie actually exists, although the recipe is for more than just combining tequila and gin. A Mexican Missile Sunrise is equal parts (2 oz) gin and silver tequila, plus 6 oz. of orange juice, 1 oz. each of grenadine syrup and strawberry schnapps, stirred and served over ice.