House Calls (1978)

PG | 98 mins | Comedy | 15 March 1978

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HISTORY

A 14 Sep 1977 HR article stated that the film was shot in various locations around Los Angeles, CA, including Dodger Stadium, Queen of Angels Hospital, and a residence on Occidental Avenue. Director Howard Zieff said that although “this picture is three-quarters location work,” he preferred filming on sound stages because it gave him more control over his environment.
       According to a 19 Jun 1978 Box article, the film was selected the “April winner” of the Boxoffice Blue Ribbon Award by the National Screen Council, an organization of radio and TV film commentators, entertainment editors, and representatives of better film councils, civic, educational and exhibitor organizations. Council members voted the film the best movie of the month because it demonstrated humor, sophistication and intelligence.
       Although Box remarked that the film was a box office success, reviews were mixed. A 13 Mar 1978 HR review described Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson as “a most engaging screen couple” and singled out director Zieff for whipping up a comedy with “a breezy and heartwarming manner.”
       Reviewer Charles Champlin of the LAT stated that the film was propelled forward by the chemistry between Matthau and Jackson despite a thin plot. Champlin noted that another very different film, Casey’s Shadow (1978, see entry) starring Matthau and released within a few days of House Calls, proved “what a disciplined, varied and attractive actor Matthau is.” Other reviewers for the Aug 1978 Film and Filming and the 15 Mar 1978 Var found the film somewhat funny but that the dynamic between Matthau and Jackson didn’t work and ... More Less

A 14 Sep 1977 HR article stated that the film was shot in various locations around Los Angeles, CA, including Dodger Stadium, Queen of Angels Hospital, and a residence on Occidental Avenue. Director Howard Zieff said that although “this picture is three-quarters location work,” he preferred filming on sound stages because it gave him more control over his environment.
       According to a 19 Jun 1978 Box article, the film was selected the “April winner” of the Boxoffice Blue Ribbon Award by the National Screen Council, an organization of radio and TV film commentators, entertainment editors, and representatives of better film councils, civic, educational and exhibitor organizations. Council members voted the film the best movie of the month because it demonstrated humor, sophistication and intelligence.
       Although Box remarked that the film was a box office success, reviews were mixed. A 13 Mar 1978 HR review described Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson as “a most engaging screen couple” and singled out director Zieff for whipping up a comedy with “a breezy and heartwarming manner.”
       Reviewer Charles Champlin of the LAT stated that the film was propelled forward by the chemistry between Matthau and Jackson despite a thin plot. Champlin noted that another very different film, Casey’s Shadow (1978, see entry) starring Matthau and released within a few days of House Calls, proved “what a disciplined, varied and attractive actor Matthau is.” Other reviewers for the Aug 1978 Film and Filming and the 15 Mar 1978 Var found the film somewhat funny but that the dynamic between Matthau and Jackson didn’t work and called the comedy “silly and uneven.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jun 1978
p. 19.
Films and Filming
Aug 1978
p. 37.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1977
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1978
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1978
p. 1.
New York Times
15 Mar 1978
p. 19.
Variety
15 Mar 1978
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Jennings Lang production
A Sellers-Winitsky presentation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff
Title des
MAKEUP
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
SOURCES
SONGS
"Sunny Side of the Street," written by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, performed by Frankie Laine, courtesy Springboard International Records.
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 March 1978
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 15 March 1978
Los Angeles opening: 17 March 1978
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1978
Copyright Number:
PA12574
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25160
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Dr. Charley Nichols returns to his hospital staff position after a three month-leave in Hawaii, nurse Lani Mason expresses her condolences over the recent death of his wife. He then shows his friend, Dr. Norman Solomon, a stack of sympathy cards from interested single women. Next, Charley treats Ann Atkinson, a patient with a broken jaw who is under the care of Dr. Amos Willoughby, the hospital’s senile chief of staff. Willoughby is livid when he discovers Charley has stolen his patient and threatens to file a complaint, citing the younger physician for a breach in ethics. In return for Willoughby’s silence, Charley agrees to nominate him for another term as chief of staff. Later, Charley serves as a medical expert on a panel for public television, while Ann, whose jaw he repaired, is a health advocate on the panel. When Ann argues that doctors are the highest paid income group in America, Charley says good medical care is expensive. When she counters that the money doctors earn goes toward fancy clothes and expensive vacations, the argument becomes heated. Afterward, Charley invites Ann for a cup of coffee whereupon she reveals that she bakes cheesecakes for a living and that, when her oven door burst open, it fractured her jaw. When she tells him she’s a divorcee and her business is slow, he offers her a temporary job as a hospital admissions clerk. She takes the job and Willoughby interrupts her while she’s doing admission forms for baseball club owner Harry Grady. Even though all the private rooms in the hospital are full, he tells her to discharge someone to make room for Grady and not ... +


When Dr. Charley Nichols returns to his hospital staff position after a three month-leave in Hawaii, nurse Lani Mason expresses her condolences over the recent death of his wife. He then shows his friend, Dr. Norman Solomon, a stack of sympathy cards from interested single women. Next, Charley treats Ann Atkinson, a patient with a broken jaw who is under the care of Dr. Amos Willoughby, the hospital’s senile chief of staff. Willoughby is livid when he discovers Charley has stolen his patient and threatens to file a complaint, citing the younger physician for a breach in ethics. In return for Willoughby’s silence, Charley agrees to nominate him for another term as chief of staff. Later, Charley serves as a medical expert on a panel for public television, while Ann, whose jaw he repaired, is a health advocate on the panel. When Ann argues that doctors are the highest paid income group in America, Charley says good medical care is expensive. When she counters that the money doctors earn goes toward fancy clothes and expensive vacations, the argument becomes heated. Afterward, Charley invites Ann for a cup of coffee whereupon she reveals that she bakes cheesecakes for a living and that, when her oven door burst open, it fractured her jaw. When she tells him she’s a divorcee and her business is slow, he offers her a temporary job as a hospital admissions clerk. She takes the job and Willoughby interrupts her while she’s doing admission forms for baseball club owner Harry Grady. Even though all the private rooms in the hospital are full, he tells her to discharge someone to make room for Grady and not to bother with the forms. After saying goodnight to another date, Charley’s car won’t start, so he walks to Ann’s apartment to use her phone. She gives him a slice of her cheesecake while he waits for his car to be serviced, and she criticizes him for spending a lot of money on his date. She also claims that she can wine and dine a man for under $50. Later, Charley calls Ann to arrange a dinner date at her place. Soon, Willoughby reminds Charley to write a flattering nomination speech for his reelection to another five-year term as chief of staff. After dinner with Ann, Charley watches a tape-delayed college basketball game on the television in her bedroom. She tells him the final score of the game because she’s already heard the results on the news. With the suspense ruined, he turns the dial to another channel showing an old movie. This leads to a discussion about how old movies don’t show couples having sex. Ann adds that if couples were filmed in bed, they were fully dressed and had one foot on the floor. Charley tests out this theory on Ann’s bed and they go through all sorts of gyrations, collapsing in giggles. Afterward, Charley wants to see Ann again, but she’s not interested in becoming part of his harem. She wants to see him exclusively. He leaves for the night but buzzes her intercom after a few minutes, and tells her he’ll try dating her way for two weeks as an experiment. One evening as they dress to go to a fundraiser, Charley presents Ann with a jewelry box containing a patient’s gallstones with a heart-shaped gold locket hidden underneath. Ann is touched and opts for sex instead of the fundraiser. At a doctors’ meeting, Willoughby blames Harry Grady’s death on a younger doctor, who covered for him. Ellen, Harry’s widow, and Phil Pogostin, her attorney, inform the hospital that she plans to sue for malpractice. However, Charley convinces Ellen to give the hospital forty-eight hours to investigate what happened, and she agrees. Willoughby delivers Harry’s eulogy at the ballpark, where his urn is buried under home plate. Charley has dinner with Ellen at her home to discuss the investigation and to convince her to drop her lawsuit. Meanwhile, Ann prepares an elegant dinner, but Charley never shows up. He falls asleep on top of Ellen’s pool table after one too many drinks and fails to persuade Ellen to change her mind. Stopping at Ann’s apartment the next morning to apologize for missing dinner, Charley explains that his on-the-scene medical assistance at a multiple car accident was the reason he didn't show up. She is upset that he is lying and that he spent the night with Ellen. As revenge, she hides his clothes in the freezer while he is in the shower and calls him a coward for not standing up to Willoughby. When she goes to work, he can’t find his clothes, and he ties one of Ann’s kerchiefs around his head and wears her skirt and overcoat to the hospital. At the staff meeting, Charley nominates Willoughby for another five-year term as chief of staff. The vote is unanimous and, as Willoughby gives his acceptance speech, he describes how he’ll carry out his duties and perform complicated surgeries. Charley is horrified and withdraws his nomination. He looks for Ann in admissions, but she has quit her job. When he finds her delivering cheesecakes, she argues that she likes her life and doesn’t need him. He, on the other hand, is in love with her and wants to give marriage a go. She tells him marriage can wait, but they can give their relationship a two week-trial. +

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

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