Neil Simon's Chapter Two (1979)

PG | 124 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 1979

Director:

Robert Moore

Writer:

Neil Simon

Producer:

Ray Stark

Cinematographer:

David M. Walsh

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Company:

Rastar Films
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HISTORY

End credits include the following acknowledgements: "Broadway production presented by Emanuel Azenberg; Jewelry by Tiffany & Co.; Luggage by Madler."
       The project was the sixth feature film collaboration for writer Neil Simon and producer Ray Stark. Prior to its 4 Dec 1977 Broadway debut, Stark signed an early agreement to produce the motion picture adaptation of Chapter Two through his company Rastar Films, as announced in a 5 May 1977 HR news item.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the film also marked a reunion for other members of the creative team. Director Robert Moore had worked with Simon on two previous feature films, Murder by Death (1976, see entry) and The Cheap Detective (1978, see entry), as well as four Broadway productions. Actors James Caan and Marsha Mason previously co-starred in the Cinderella Liberty (1973, see entry). Mason, who was married to Simon at that time, had appeared in three of his other works: the play The Good Doctor (New York, 27 Nov 1973) and the motion pictures, The Goodbye Girl (1977, see entry) and The Cheap Detective.
       The semi-autobiographical plot of Chapter Two was inspired by the relationship between Simon and Mason. Like the lead characters, “George Schneider” and “Jennie MacLaine,” Simon was a widower and Mason was divorced when they met and married after a brief courtship. Several reviews, such as the 12 Dec 1979 Var, mentioned that the film version differed from the stage play by shifting the focus from George to Jennie. ... More Less

End credits include the following acknowledgements: "Broadway production presented by Emanuel Azenberg; Jewelry by Tiffany & Co.; Luggage by Madler."
       The project was the sixth feature film collaboration for writer Neil Simon and producer Ray Stark. Prior to its 4 Dec 1977 Broadway debut, Stark signed an early agreement to produce the motion picture adaptation of Chapter Two through his company Rastar Films, as announced in a 5 May 1977 HR news item.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the film also marked a reunion for other members of the creative team. Director Robert Moore had worked with Simon on two previous feature films, Murder by Death (1976, see entry) and The Cheap Detective (1978, see entry), as well as four Broadway productions. Actors James Caan and Marsha Mason previously co-starred in the Cinderella Liberty (1973, see entry). Mason, who was married to Simon at that time, had appeared in three of his other works: the play The Good Doctor (New York, 27 Nov 1973) and the motion pictures, The Goodbye Girl (1977, see entry) and The Cheap Detective.
       The semi-autobiographical plot of Chapter Two was inspired by the relationship between Simon and Mason. Like the lead characters, “George Schneider” and “Jennie MacLaine,” Simon was a widower and Mason was divorced when they met and married after a brief courtship. Several reviews, such as the 12 Dec 1979 Var, mentioned that the film version differed from the stage play by shifting the focus from George to Jennie. As pointed out by the reviewer in the 10 Dec 1979 HR, the film also accentuated the romance of the story and “softened” the comedy. In an interview with the 28 Dec 1979 LAHExam, Mason indicated that James Caan chose to portray George as a “hack novelist,” eliminating some of the intellectual traits that were part of the stage character.
       A 13 Jun 1979 Var brief announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin 23 Jul 1979 in Bermuda, the setting for the honeymoon scenes. After five days of filming on the island, the production moved to New York City for four weeks, and according to production notes, shot at the following locations: Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, The Ginger Man restaurant, Zabar’s delicatessen, Kennedy Airport and Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Filming continued on soundstages at The Burbank Studios in Burbank, CA, and wrapped by mid-Oct 1979, as noted in a 15 Oct 1979 HR news item.
       A 29 Oct 1979 HR article reported that the film’s release in major cities on 20 Jun 1980 was cancelled and moved up to 22 Feb 1980, after the filmmakers realized that the rough-cut edit required less post-production work than originally anticipated. Initial engagements were scheduled for Dec 1979 in Los Angeles, CA, and New York City for Academy Awards qualification.
       Production costs were estimated between $9 and $10 million in a 2 Apr 1979 DV article. A 16 Jun 1980 Village Voice column considered the film a hit with approximately $18 million in film rentals, but noted that the picture was not a breakout success in the way that The Goodbye Girl was because it failed to reach audiences less familiar with Neil Simon.
       Marsha Mason received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Mason was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the category Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy Or Musical. Valerie Harper received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1979
p. 21.
LAHExam
28 Dec 1979
Section B, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
9 Dec 1979
Section N, p. 1.
New York Times
14 Dec 1979
p. 14.
Variety
13 Jun 1979.
---
Variety
12 Dec 1979
p. 22.
Village Voice
16 Jun 1980
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Columbia Pictures Presents
A Ray Stark Production
A Robert Moore Film
From Rastar
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit mgr, New York crew
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
Stills
Dir of photog, New York crew
Cam op, New York crew
Gaffer, New York crew
Key grip, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Leadman
Const supv
Prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Ms. Mason's clothes by
Cost des
Ms. Harper's clothes by
Men`s cost
Women`s cost
Ward, New York crew
Ward, New York crew
SOUND
Sd eff ed, Burbank Editorial Service, Inc.
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Auditor
Dial coach
Dir's secy
Asst to exec prod
Unit pub
Transportation
Transportation
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Pub asst
Prod secy, New York crew
Extra casting, New York crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Color by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Chapter Two by Neil Simon (New York, 4 Dec 1977).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I'm On Your Side," music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Marilyn McCoo.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Chapter Two
Release Date:
1979
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 December 1979
New York opening: week of 14 December 1979
Production Date:
23 July--mid October 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Rastar Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 January 1980
Copyright Number:
PA54755
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
124
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25801
SYNOPSIS

Novelist George Schneider returns to New York City after taking a European vacation, which he hoped would ease the pain of missing his beloved wife, Barbara, who died from cancer six months earlier. When his younger brother, Leo Schneider, a theatrical press agent, meets him at the airport, he realizes that George is still very much in grief. Meanwhile, actress Jennie MacLaine returns to the city a single woman after settling her divorce, and is greeted at the airport by her best friend, Faye Medwick. Sometime later, George reluctantly agrees to go on a blind date with a woman Leo has recommended. Yet, George is embarrassed when the woman meets him at an upscale restaurant wearing an eccentric hairstyle and dress. That night, Jennie also has an awkward blind date, arranged by Faye, with an extremely tall man. One evening, Jennie and Faye attend a play at The Public Theater. During intermission, Faye encounters Leo, whom she once dated. After introductions, Jennie walks outside for fresh air, while Leo flirts with Faye despite the fact that they are both married. As they return to their seats, Faye informs Jennie that Leo wants to give Jennie’s number to his recently widowed brother George, whom Faye remembers as being “not gorgeous, but sweet-looking.” Jennie sighs, hesitant about another dating experience. Later, Leo drops by George’s townhouse on Manhattan’s West Side while George is busy working. As Leo writes Jennie’s number on a piece of paper, George complains about the blind dates and states that he wants to meet women in his own way, not through Leo. ... +


Novelist George Schneider returns to New York City after taking a European vacation, which he hoped would ease the pain of missing his beloved wife, Barbara, who died from cancer six months earlier. When his younger brother, Leo Schneider, a theatrical press agent, meets him at the airport, he realizes that George is still very much in grief. Meanwhile, actress Jennie MacLaine returns to the city a single woman after settling her divorce, and is greeted at the airport by her best friend, Faye Medwick. Sometime later, George reluctantly agrees to go on a blind date with a woman Leo has recommended. Yet, George is embarrassed when the woman meets him at an upscale restaurant wearing an eccentric hairstyle and dress. That night, Jennie also has an awkward blind date, arranged by Faye, with an extremely tall man. One evening, Jennie and Faye attend a play at The Public Theater. During intermission, Faye encounters Leo, whom she once dated. After introductions, Jennie walks outside for fresh air, while Leo flirts with Faye despite the fact that they are both married. As they return to their seats, Faye informs Jennie that Leo wants to give Jennie’s number to his recently widowed brother George, whom Faye remembers as being “not gorgeous, but sweet-looking.” Jennie sighs, hesitant about another dating experience. Later, Leo drops by George’s townhouse on Manhattan’s West Side while George is busy working. As Leo writes Jennie’s number on a piece of paper, George complains about the blind dates and states that he wants to meet women in his own way, not through Leo. He takes the paper, which also contains the phone number of a librarian he needs to contact regarding research for his latest book. Later, when George telephones the librarian, he mistakenly dials Jennie’s number. After initial confusion, George apologizes for the error, but Jennie is annoyed and hangs up. During a series of follow-up calls later that day and evening, George charms Jennie into meeting for a “five-minute date.” The following night, George and Jennie enjoy a glass of wine at her East Side apartment and are pleasantly surprised by each other’s company. They plan a full date for the next night at an Indian restaurant and begin a whirlwind courtship. After leaving a concert early one evening, Jennie and George return to his house and make love. Although the relationship started ten days earlier, Jennie feels they have known each other for years, but when George sees a photograph of Barbara by the bedside, he becomes preoccupied by her memory. With understanding, Jennie reminds George not to rush his feelings and says she loves him. After playing football in the park, George reveals to his brother that he is going to marry Jennie at the courthouse Monday morning. Shocked, Leo follows George home and tries to convince him to wait, but George is committed. During an outdoor barbeque, Leo also cautions Jennie about marrying a recent widower after two weeks of dating, but Jennie says she is determined. Following a small ceremony at the courthouse, George and Jennie travel to Bermuda for their honeymoon and stay at a luxurious villa overlooking the ocean. Their time is idyllic until one evening at dinner George encounters a former acquaintance, Lee Michaels, who expresses his condolences about Barbara. That night, George sits by the pool unable to sleep and complains to Jennie that it was unwise to return to the same place where he and Barbara spent their honeymoon. At breakfast, George is still moody and announces that he wants fly home immediately. When he and Jennie arrive in New York City that night, they are both irritable. While George wants to avoid a confrontation, Jennie persists in trying to understand his sudden coldness toward her. As she asks about Barbara, George loses his temper. He blurts out that he misses Barbara all the time and resents Jennie. Hurt, Jennie walks away. Later, during auditions for theater producer Joseph Papp, Jennie feels too distracted to prepare properly and decides not to read for the role. When she comes home and sees suitcases, George somberly informs her that he is traveling to Los Angeles, California, for a meeting and is uncertain about when he will return. Confidently, Jennie makes an emotional speech about her dedication to their marriage, declaring that she will not give up despite George’s insensitivity. In spite of her wisdom, George says he is unable to control the fact that he feels “stuck” in his grief and leaves for the airport. That evening, Jennie goes to Carnegie Hall with Faye, but is too upset to enjoy the performance. At the house, she waits for a phone call from George until falling asleep in a chair. The next day, Jennie and Leo meet for lunch, and she admits that she is scared of losing George, while Leo advises her to give him time. As they are about to order, George telephones the restaurant to declare that he feels better after “walking around the block” via the Los Angeles airport and reveals that he is at home. Unable to hail a cab, Jennie runs to the house. When she arrives, George tells Jennie that during the plane flight he realized that he should embrace happiness by starting his life over with her. After a kiss, he reads from his recently finished novel, Falling Into Place, which begins with a dedication to Jennie. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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