Sunday, January 11, 2015

And then I said...

These transcripts from my TCM intros have been a hit.  (Hey, you get the info and don't have to actually watch me.)  Here's my wraparound for THE OUT OF TOWNERS.  Many thanks to reader Johnny Walker for un-capping the all-caps.   It was written by me and Anne Wilson.  

NOTE:  Tomorrow I will review the Golden Globes. 

INTRO:


Hi, I'm Ken Levine – a TV comedy writer and a playwright -- back again as your host for this month’s “Friday Night Spotlight” on Neil Simon.

You know Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will”? Well, that basically sums up our next movie. It’s called “THE OUT OF TOWNERS,” released in 1970, with an “original” screenplay by Simon – although it’s really more of an adaptation.

In 1967, Neil Simon wrote a broadway play called “PLAZA SUITE,” which was initially comprised of four, one-act plays that all took place at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Well during rehearsals, he realized that one of the stories – called “THE OUT OF TOWNERS” – didn’t really work.

It was about a man who, with his wife, come to New York to interview for a job – during which time, seemingly everyone and everything in the city appears to be conspiring against them.

But just hearing about the ridiculous mishaps were not nearly as funny as actually seeing them. So Simon took the story out, leaving “PLAZA SUITE” with ultimately three one-act plays. And instead, wrote the “OUT OF TOWNERS” as a screenplay. The result is the movie we have coming up next.

To play the leading man – who really gets put through the ringer – who better than the buttoned-up, yet always-ready-to-explode Jack Lemmon?

Lemmon was one of Neil Simon’s favorite actors, having already costarred in the movie you just saw, “THE ODD COUPLE.” and in turn, Lemmon was such a fan of Simon’s that he signed on to do “THE OUT OF TOWNERS” without even reading the script. Simon gave him the rough storyline over lunch one day and Jack Lemmon said he was in.

Oh, if it were that easy for the rest of us.

Playing Lemmon’s wife in our movie – with great comic timing – is Sandy Dennis, whose mousey character makes a perfect foil for Lemmon’s caged Daffy Duck.

Here, with appearances by Billy D. Williams and Paula Prentiss’ sister Ann Prentiss, who looks like Paula Prentiss. From 1970, “THE OUT OF TOWNERS.”

OUTRO (Note: the final gag is they are about to land back home in Ohio when their plane is hijacked to Cuba.)

Wow. I don’t know about you, but that ending really threw me for a loop. In this post- 9/11 world, it certainly plays differently than it must have to movie audiences in 1970.

But having said that, I really do love this film.

Interestingly, Neil Simon is a New Yorker through and through -- in fact, he actually became a playwright because he didn’t want to move to Los Angeles. Yet this movie is hardly a love song to his beloved city. We see the real New York – warts and all – with Simon incorporating a number of things that were happening in the Big Apple at the time, such as sanitation and transit strikes, crowded hotels and crime.

I mean, Woody Allen’s “MANHATTAN” this is not.

Maybe it was just his sneaky way to keep people from moving to New York. Hey, it worked on me.

Up next in our Friday Night Spotlight – a movie based on a semi-autobiographical play that marked Neil Simon’s first solo writing effort on Broadway. It’s from 1963 and stars ole’ blue eyes.

20 comments:

Richard Y said...

These are all great, love it. Thank you for posting.

Scooter Schechtman said...

The aulde days, when "take this plane to Cuba" was a beloved Simon trope. Like the Jane Russell Cross Your Heart Bra!

Johnny Walker said...

Great! Looking forward to reading the rest of them.

I'll take "uncaps" duty this time:

Hi, I'm Ken Levine – a TV comedy writer and a playwright -- back again as your host for this month’s “Friday Night Spotlight” on Neil Simon.

You know Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will”? Well, that basically sums up our next movie. It’s called “THE OUT OF TOWNERS,” released in 1970, with an “original” screenplay by Simon – although it’s really more of an adaptation.

In 1967, Neil Simon wrote a broadway play called “PLAZA SUITE,” which was initially comprised of four, one-act plays that all took place at New York’s Plaza Hotel. Well during rehearsals, he realized that one of the stories – called “THE OUT OF TOWNERS” – didn’t really work.

It was about a man who, with his wife, come to New York to interview for a job – during which time, seemingly everyone and everything in the city appears to be conspiring against them.

But just hearing about the ridiculous mishaps were not nearly as funny as actually seeing them. So Simon took the story out, leaving “PLAZA SUITE” with ultimately three one-act plays. And instead, wrote the “OUT OF TOWNERS” as a screenplay. The result is the movie we have coming up next.

To play the leading man – who really gets put through the ringer – who better than the buttoned-up, yet always-ready-to-explode Jack Lemmon?

Lemmon was one of Neil Simon’s favorite actors, having already costarred in the movie you just saw, “THE ODD COUPLE.” and in turn, Lemmon was such a fan of Simon’s that he signed on to do “THE OUT OF TOWNERS” without even reading the script. Simon gave him the rough storyline over lunch one day and Jack Lemmon said he was in.

Oh, if it were that easy for the rest of us.

Playing Lemmon’s wife in our movie – with great comic timing – is Sandy Dennis, whose mousey character makes a perfect foil for Lemmon’s caged Daffy Duck.

Here, with appearances by Billy D. Williams and Paula Prentiss’ sister Ann Prentiss, who looks like Paula Prentiss. From 1970, “THE OUT OF TOWNERS.”

OUTRO

Wow. I don’t know about you, but that ending really threw me for a loop. In this post- 9/11 world, it certainly plays differently than it must have to movie audiences in 1970.

But having said that, I really do love this film.

Interestingly, Neil Simon is a New Yorker through and through -- in fact, he actually became a playwright because he didn’t want to move to Los Angeles. Yet this movie is hardly a love song to his beloved city. We see the real New York – warts and all – with Simon incorporating a number of things that were happening in the Big Apple at the time, such as sanitation and transit strikes, crowded hotels and crime.

I mean, Woody Allen’s “MANHATTAN” this is not.

Maybe it was just his sneaky way to keep people from moving to New York. Hey, it worked on me.

Up next in our Friday Night Spotlight – a movie based on a semi-autobiographical play that marked Neil Simon’s first solo writing effort on Broadway. It’s from 1963 and stars ole’ blue eyes.

Johnny Walker said...

For anyone else who wants to help out in the upcoming days, this website is great for removing the caps:

http://convertcase.net/

You'll then have to go through by hand.

Bill O said...

When this premiered on network tv, ABC deleted the last line. Maybe it's a testament to his acting, but Lemmon REALLY seems annoyed with Sandy Dennis here.

David Aldridge said...

"The church…is closed?" remains one of my all-time favorite lines. Still love this movie. Lemmon and Dennis were terrific.

John Hammes said...

This being the digital era, "transcripts" are still very much appreciated... thank you, Ken!

Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs were very good friends, there is a wonderful late '50s "What's My Line?" with Kovacs on the panel and Lemmon as the mystery guest. Lemmon took part in those all nighter (and dayer) poker games Kovacs was famous for. There was that fortunate brief window of opportunity that the two could share time on the big screen. And, it was Lemmon who had to go to the morgue and identify Kovacs on that horrible January night in 1962.

Lemmon and Neil Simon - and Walter Matthau - were the chemistry most of us can only dream of. Thank goodness technology will always keep them around, and keep us laughing.

So, here is a question - had tragedy not occurred, do you picture an "alternate universe" where Jack Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs would comedically pair up on again/off again, as Lemmon/ Matthau did so successfully from relative youth to grumpy old men?

Apparently, "The Odd Couple" could have just left the camera running for a few segments of Kovacs poker games... as participants remember, they were obviously zany and hilarious, if nor always for the "right" reasons...

It has been said that Ernie Kovacs was great at many things: unfortunately, poker was not one of those things!

Dixon Steele said...

"Oh My God George...."

Clyde King said...

Johnny Walker, thank you for the link to that website. It's incredibly useful. http://convertcase.net/

VP81955 said...

Hijackings were a big deal in the late 1960s, happening regularly. In fact, about this time I can remember a disc jockey named Jeff Douglas pulling a Sunday afternoon shift on WFBL in my hometown of Syracuse (he later worked at 50,000-watt WHAS in Louisville) when he got word that a flight had been hijacked, and his mother apparently was one of the passengers! I'm not sure if she actually was on board, but I don't believe anyone was hurt as a result of this incident.

normadesmond said...

always liked the beginning of this, lemmon drives my mother's chrysler wagon.

Paul Duca said...

Nice of her to loan it to him...

gottacook said...

I remember my parents coming home from the theater after seeing this, talking about how funny it was, quoting lines from it, etc. - but didn't get to see it myself for many years afterward; no home video in those days. I would happily own a copy myself and probably will someday. When Lemmon introduces that whistle into his speech because of the broken tooth, it always cracks me up.

How unfortunate that some people will only ever have seen the remake. Likewise The In-Laws (although not a Simon film).

Breadbaker said...

I really appreciate your point about how 9/11 changes the ending for modern audiences. When it was written, a hijacking was generally thought to be a relatively benign adventure: take the plane to Cuba, drop off the miscreant, perhaps get a chance to see Havana, return.

I suppose I could turn this into a Friday question: are there any M*A*S*H episodes that feel differently as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Johnny: Word will do it - Format menu, Change case, sentence case.

wg

Cap'n Bob said...

What Ol' Blue Eyes movie?

CarolMR said...

Ol' Blue Eyes movie - COME BLOW YOUR HORN.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Re Lemmon and Kovacs: There is at least one Nairobi Trio segment from the Kovacs show where Lemmon is the piano player--or so I have heard. With the gorilla masks, who can be sure? Jack Lemmon was a good pianist and even made an album where he played and sang, long unavailable alas.

Storm said...

When I was a kid, my whimsical mother decided one day "Hey, Boston isn't that far from Providence, let's go check it out!" And thus proceeded an epic adventure in total fuckery, from the bus ride there to the Scariest Cheap Hotel Room EVER, it was one thing after another. After we'd stripped the bed of the suspiciously spotted blanket and laid out on our coats, I turned to my mother and said, "Wow. Great idea there, Mom. Honestly, this has been like something outta that movie you love so much, 'The Out of Towners'!"

She squinted at me, sighed, and said, "Screw you, kid. I was just thinking the same thing!" And we laughed for the first time all day.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Brian Wolman said...

When the film was first aired on ABCTV in the early 70's, the highjacking line was cut out, ruining the ending gag.