California Suite (1978)

PG | 103 mins | Comedy | 22 December 1978

Director:

Herbert Ross

Writer:

Neil Simon

Producer:

Ray Stark

Cinematographer:

David M. Walsh

Production Designer:

Albert Brenner

Production Company:

Rastar
Full page view
HISTORY

Materials in AMPAS library production files and an article in the 24 Apr 1978 DV noted the differences between the original play, California Suite, and its film adaptation. On stage, the four storylines take place over four days in two rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel; on screen, the stories comprise thirty-six hours in multiple locations. Also, rather than telling one story at a time, with four actors playing eight characters as the stage play does, the film production features one actor per role and simultaneously presents all the couples’ stories by intercutting among all four storylines.
       After the end credits, the following statements appear: “The California Suite Broadway play was produced by Emanuel Azenberg and Robert Fryer”; and, “Our special thanks for the cooperation of the Beverly Hills Hotel Corporation, President Burton L. Slatkin and the Hotel Staff.”
       News items in LAT on 10 Jul 1976 and in Box on 19 Jul 1976 announced that Paramount Pictures had acquired film adaptation rights to the stage play, California Suite. On 10 May 1977, DV reported that the movie was “also headed to Columbia.” Paramount did not appear in any subsequent reportage on the film and is not listed in the onscreen credits. Although actor James Coburn appears in the picture's fictional film starring “Diana Barrie,” he does not receive onscreen credit.
       According to DV and production notes from AMPAS library files, the production schedule allowed for a week of rehearsals before shooting each story segment, and the first rehearsals began 6 Mar 1978. Several sources, including the 16 Mar 1978 ... More Less

Materials in AMPAS library production files and an article in the 24 Apr 1978 DV noted the differences between the original play, California Suite, and its film adaptation. On stage, the four storylines take place over four days in two rooms at the Beverly Hills Hotel; on screen, the stories comprise thirty-six hours in multiple locations. Also, rather than telling one story at a time, with four actors playing eight characters as the stage play does, the film production features one actor per role and simultaneously presents all the couples’ stories by intercutting among all four storylines.
       After the end credits, the following statements appear: “The California Suite Broadway play was produced by Emanuel Azenberg and Robert Fryer”; and, “Our special thanks for the cooperation of the Beverly Hills Hotel Corporation, President Burton L. Slatkin and the Hotel Staff.”
       News items in LAT on 10 Jul 1976 and in Box on 19 Jul 1976 announced that Paramount Pictures had acquired film adaptation rights to the stage play, California Suite. On 10 May 1977, DV reported that the movie was “also headed to Columbia.” Paramount did not appear in any subsequent reportage on the film and is not listed in the onscreen credits. Although actor James Coburn appears in the picture's fictional film starring “Diana Barrie,” he does not receive onscreen credit.
       According to DV and production notes from AMPAS library files, the production schedule allowed for a week of rehearsals before shooting each story segment, and the first rehearsals began 6 Mar 1978. Several sources, including the 16 Mar 1978 DV and the 23 Mar 1978 HR, stated that filming began 20 March 1978 in Los Angeles, CA. On 10 Feb 1978, DV announced that the film’s scenes featuring Maggie Smith and Michael Caine at the Academy Awards would be shot at the actual 1977 Oscars ceremony, which took place 3 Apr 1978.
       An article in the 24 Apr 1978 DV reported that, although some location shooting took place in other parts of the Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, the bulk of the film was set at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The 5 May 1978 LAHExam stated that the hotel usually refused all requests to film on its grounds, but the hotel management allowed California Suite to shoot there for a variety of reasons, including the desire to maintain positive relationships with high ranking movie industry executives and to accommodate Neil Simon, who was a frequent guest and admirer. According to a hotel spokesperson, the production was ultimately approved because “the star of the film really is the Beverly Hills Hotel.” As noted in a 17 May 1978 Var news item, it would have been too expensive and disruptive to shoot the entire movie on location at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but scenes were filmed at the hotel’s tennis courts and pool, according to LAHExam and the 21 May 1978 LAT ; other portions of the hotel, such as its suites, lobby, porte cochere and the Polo Lounge, were recreated on a soundstage at Burbank Studios and the nearby Columbia Ranch. According to Var and DV, the sets cost $400,000, with $175,000 spent on reproducing the hotel exteriors.
       On 25 Jul 1978, HR announced the completion of principal photography and the start of post-production.
       Although HR announced on 14 Oct 1978 that California Suite would be released in Los Angeles on 15 Dec 1978, an undated Columbia press release and AMPAS library production files stated that the film opened in Los Angeles 22 Dec 1978 at the Paramount Theatre and the Crest Theatre. The 3 Jan 1979 Var announced that the movie had been selected for a 1979 Royal Film Performance that members of the British Royal Family were expected to attend. On the same day, DV reported that the picture had earned nearly $17 million in its first eleven days of release. The 5 Feb 1980 Box ranked the film ninth out of twenty-five top-grossing movies of 1979 and stated it had earned $29 million domestically.
       California Suite won an Academy Award for Actress in a Supporting Role (Maggie Smith) and received Academy Award nominations in the categories Art Direction and Writing (Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.)
       Although the 25 Dec 1978 LAHExam gave the film a negative review, decrying Simon’s “shallowness” and “misanthropy which makes every character a butt,” the movie was well-received overall. The 13 Dec 1978 HR commended Simon’s skill in adapting his stage play to the screen, but took exception to the Bill Cosby-Richard Pryor segment, describing the comedians’ scenes as “a blackface Laurel and Hardy.” The reviewer commented that it was “demeaning that the only blacks checking in to the Beverly Hills Hotel were made the butt of this kind of humor.” On 13 Dec 1978, the DV review praised Simon’s exploration of serious material but found the contrast between the film’s lighter segments and its more dramatic scenes too stark. Even so, the critic noted that Simon “excels” at “satirical jabs,” the cast was “uniformly strong” and “bon mots [were] sprinkled through the script with delightful regularity, especially as delivered by the likes of Smith, May and Alda.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
26 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
9 Aug 1976.
---
Box Office
27 Mar 1978.
---
Box Office
5 Feb 1980.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1978.
---
Daily Variety
16 Mar 1978.
---
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1978
p. 4.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1978.
---
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1979.
---
Film World
Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1978
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1978
p. 16, 28.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1978.
---
Independent Film Journal
Dec 1978.
---
LAHExam
5 May 1978
Section B, p. 1, 5
LAHExam
25 Dec 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Jul 1976
Section II, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
26 Apr 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 May 1978
Calendar, p. 36.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1978
Section IV, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1978
p. 1.
New York Times
22 Dec 1978
p. 12.
Variety
22 Mar 1978.
---
Variety
26 Apr 1978.
---
Variety
17 May 1978.
---
Variety
12 Jul 1978.
---
Variety
13 Dec 1978
p. 24.
Variety
3 Jan 1979.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring
Visitors from New York
Starring
Visitors from London
Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Starring
Visitors from New York
Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Starring
Visitors from London
Co-Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Co-Starring
Visitors from Chicago
+

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring
Visitors from New York
Starring
Visitors from London
Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Starring
Visitors from New York
Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Starring
Visitors from London
Co-Starring
Visitors from Philadelphia
Co-Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Co-Starring
Visitors from Chicago
Visitors from Philadelphia
At the Academy Awards:
At the airport:
Stewardesses:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Ray Stark Production
A Herbert Ross Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
Key grip
Stills by
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Elec best boy
Elec gaffer
Grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Draftsperson
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Supv ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Leadman
Const supv
Swing man
Asst prop man
Painter
Const coord
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Jane Fonda's and Alan Alda's cost des by
Men's cost
Women's cost
MUSIC
Mus comp
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
The California Suites performed by
SOUND
Sd eff
Prod mixer
Re-rec
Boom man
Sound cable man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main titles from the paintings of
Title des
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Miss Fonda's hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Pictorial consultant
Scr supv
Scr supv
Auditor
Prod secy
Asst to the prod
Transportation
Unit pub
Director's staff
Director's staff
Director's staff
Director's staff
Craft service man
Transportation capt
Director's staff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play California Suite by Neil Simon (New York, 10 Jun 1976).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Neil Simon's California Suite
Release Date:
22 December 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 December 1978 at Paramount Theatre
New York opening: 22 December 1978 at National Theater
Production Date:
20 March--late July 1978 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Rastar Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 January 1979
Copyright Number:
PA20942
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25380
SYNOPSIS

On a flight to Los Angeles, California, British actress Diana Barrie watches herself on the in-flight movie in the role for which she has received an Academy Award nomination. She expresses her nervousness about the upcoming Oscar ceremony to her husband, Sidney Cochran, as the plane lands. Elsewhere, on a Los Angeles freeway, Dr. Willis Panama and Dr. Chauncey Gump, physicians from Chicago, Illinois, vacationing together with their wives Bettina and Lola, bicker with each other constantly as their rental car first breaks down, then collides with two other vehicles. As Diana and Sidney check into the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hannah Warren paces her room in the hotel while waiting to meet with her ex-husband, Bill Warren. When he arrives, they note that it has been nine years since they saw each other, then they leave to keep the lunch reservation he made. At the Los Angeles airport, Harry Michaels picks up his brother, Marvin Michaels, who has come to town to attend Harry’s son’s bar mitzvah. Marvin explains that he and his wife Millie always fly separately, so she will arrive the next morning. Marvin notices that Harry still ogles and wants to proposition every beautiful woman he sees. Harry drops Marvin off at the Beverly Hills Hotel and they arrange to meet for dinner later. Hannah and Bill reminisce over lunch and later at his beachfront home. She is an editor for Newsweek magazine and dating a writer for the ... +


On a flight to Los Angeles, California, British actress Diana Barrie watches herself on the in-flight movie in the role for which she has received an Academy Award nomination. She expresses her nervousness about the upcoming Oscar ceremony to her husband, Sidney Cochran, as the plane lands. Elsewhere, on a Los Angeles freeway, Dr. Willis Panama and Dr. Chauncey Gump, physicians from Chicago, Illinois, vacationing together with their wives Bettina and Lola, bicker with each other constantly as their rental car first breaks down, then collides with two other vehicles. As Diana and Sidney check into the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hannah Warren paces her room in the hotel while waiting to meet with her ex-husband, Bill Warren. When he arrives, they note that it has been nine years since they saw each other, then they leave to keep the lunch reservation he made. At the Los Angeles airport, Harry Michaels picks up his brother, Marvin Michaels, who has come to town to attend Harry’s son’s bar mitzvah. Marvin explains that he and his wife Millie always fly separately, so she will arrive the next morning. Marvin notices that Harry still ogles and wants to proposition every beautiful woman he sees. Harry drops Marvin off at the Beverly Hills Hotel and they arrange to meet for dinner later. Hannah and Bill reminisce over lunch and later at his beachfront home. She is an editor for Newsweek magazine and dating a writer for the Washington Post. He is a former journalist, now working as a screenwriter, and contemplating marrying his girlfriend. Then they discuss the real reason Hannah has flown to Los Angeles: their seventeen-year old daughter, Jenny, unhappy living with her mother in New York, ran away to stay with her father and wants to spend the next year with him in Los Angeles. Hannah doesn’t want her daughter living in southern California but she is nervous about seeing Jenny and getting her to return to New York. Back at the hotel, Diana continues fretting over the likelihood of winning the Academy Award and exchanges witty banter with Sidney. Later, she has a couple of drinks to calm her nerves as she gets dressed for the awards ceremony. As Hannah and Bill return to Hannah's hotel room, Jenny calls and informs her parents that she will abide by whatever decision they make. Hannah announces to Bill that Jenny will return to New York with her. Bill is disappointed but trusts Hannah’s instincts. When Hannah expresses how afraid she is of losing Jenny, Bill remarks that he has never seen his ex-wife so vulnerable. Then Hannah says Jenny can stay with Bill in Los Angeles, but only for six months. Hannah watches Jenny drive off with Bill. At the hotel’s front desk, the doctors learn there is a reservation for Willis but not for Chauncey. The hotel has no extra rooms because it is Academy Award week. The only thing available is a small single room undergoing repairs. Chauncey agrees to take it. Later, Willis tells Chauncey that he has made a dinner reservation at a Japanese restaurant and booked them a tennis court for a doubles game the next day. While the Gumps struggle to get ready in their tiny room, Chauncey complains about having to eat Japanese food. As Willis and Bettina wait for their friends in the lobby, Willis complains that Chauncey is always late. When the two couples finally gather at the hotel’s front door, the doctors argue about who will drive to the restaurant, until Bettina insists she will drive. On the way to the Academy Awards, a nervous Diana begs Sidney to be nice to her and wish her luck. He reminds her how talented she is and gives her a kiss. They exit the limousine and greet the crowd outside the venue. Elsewhere, paramedics arrive at a collision in which a car is on top of the one Bettina is driving. While a policeman questions her, Chauncey insists to the officer that his legs are paralyzed from sitting down at the Japanese restaurant. After the Academy Awards ceremony, Diana observes Sidney speaking with an attractive young man. Drunk, she takes her disappointment about losing the Oscar out on her husband. At the hotel, as Harry drops his brother off after dinner, Harry teases Marvin that “the night is not over yet.” Marvin goes to his room and finds that Harry has hired a hooker, Bunny, to entertain him. Later, Chauncey wakes up in the middle of the night, sick from the Japanese food. Lola calls Willis and insists he tend to Chauncey. Willis angrily acquiesces. Back in their hotel room, Diana jealously insists that Sidney was flirting with the young man that she saw him speaking with earlier. Sidney asks her why they cannot lie to each other about the nature of their relationship the same way they lie to everyone else about it. He reminds her that he has never hidden who he is. Diana asks why Sidney doesn’t love her anymore. He insists he never stopped loving her. She says his kind of love doesn’t do her any good, then begs him to “screw” her before immediately apologizing. She loves him but she doesn’t understand why he stays with her when he could share the company of other gay men exclusively. He explains he enjoys his proximity to her minor celebrity and tells her he loves her more than any woman he’s ever known. They acknowledge they have fun together, then share a kiss. She comes to bed and they make love. The next morning, Marvin wakes up to find himself in bed with Bunny. He tries to get her up and out of the room but she has passed out after drinking a bottle of tequila. Calling the front desk, Marvin learns that his wife, Millie, has just arrived and is on her way to his room. He tries to keep Millie from discovering the nude, unconscious hooker in his bed but finally reveals his indiscretion. Incensed, Millie leaves. Elsewhere at the hotel, Willis, Bettina, Chauncey and Lola play doubles tennis. Bettina accidentally smashes her racket on Willis’ head, loses her balance and injures her ankle as she falls. Lola stumbles over a basket of tennis balls trying to come to Bettina’s aid and Chauncey trips over the net trying to help Lola. Outside the Michaels’ room, Millie hurries away as Marvin tries to explain his infidelity. At first, Millie doesn’t see how she can attend the bar mitzvah knowing Harry paid for Marvin’s hooker, then she decides to forgive Marvin and forget it ever happened. She also plans to spend all of his money. The Panamas and the Gumps return to the Panamas’ room to care for Bettina’s ankle. Lola breaks a bottle of perfume in the bathroom, then cuts her finger on one of the glass shards. While they tend to Lola, Bettina trips and falls through the room’s French doors, breaking the panes of glass. Then Lola bangs her head on the door of the medicine cabinet while rinsing off her bleeding finger and passes out. Willis goes to the bathroom to soak a wet towel for her, but steps on the broken glass. Willis and Chauncey put both women on the bed then start fighting each other, damaging the room in the process. After shopping in the hotel boutique, Millie returns to the hotel room. Marvin tries to embrace her but she wants no signs of affection from him in front of the still-unconscious hooker on their bed. In the Panamas’ room, Chauncey swears it has been the worst trip ever and Willis tries to force Chauncey to say it is the best time they ever had and that the Gumps will love going on vacation with the Panamas again. In front of the hotel, the cab that the Michaels were going to take to the bar mitzvah has been given to Bunny, who is awake and fully dressed. She generously allows them to ride with her to their destination. At the airport, Hannah is surprised to see Jenny, who has come to say good-bye and thank her mother for letting her stay with Bill. In another part of the airport, the Panamas and the Gumps, who are bruised and covered in bandages, limp towards their flight. As Diana and Sidney’s plane takes off, they learn that the in-flight movie is the same as on their flight to Los Angeles and Diana begs Sidney to get them off the plane. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.