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.
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.