This was my wraparound for COME BLOW YOUR HORN on TCM. As you might be able to tell, it wasn't my favorite. Some much better movies on tap for this Friday night.
Hi, I’m Ken Levine – TV writer, playwright and long-time fan of Neil Simon, who’s the subject of this month’s “Friday Night Spotlight.” Up next is the film adaptation of Simon’s first play, “Come Blow your horn.”
Now, we all love a good overnight success story but Neil Simon isn’t one of them. At least not as a playwright. “Come Blow Your horn”, which is semi-autobiographical, went through over 20 rewrites and numerous rejections. And even when it finally did debut on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in February of 1961 it still almost closed after two weeks.
Despite decent reviews, ticket sales were slow and things were looking bleak. But Simon’s producers were resourceful. They decided to hand out free tickets and hope that good word-of-mouth would save the day. Well, it worked. Playwright Noel Coward and Groucho Marx both saw the play – both loved it – and raved about it to local gossip columnists. All of a sudden, the play was a hit. It ran for almost two years.
Then Hollywood came calling and the result is the film you’re about to see. Now I should mention that Simon didn’t write the screenplay. I’ll tell you why later. Instead, Norman Lear, who went on to create “All in the Family” did.
Like i said, it’s semi-autobiographical. And when you think of a jewish family you naturally think of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bill and Lee J. Cobb. Ah, Hollywood. It’s still fun to see. From 1963, here’s “Come Blow Your Horn.”
Frank Sinatra sort of turned the borscht belt into the rat pack, didn’t he? That was the ring-a-ding version of Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical hit play, “Come Blow Your Horn” as adapted by Norman Lear. Simon was offered the screenplay but didn’t want to get sucked back into Hollywood. He was originally a TV writer, working on such classic early hits as “Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows” and “Sgt. Bilko.”
At the time, New York was the center of the TV world, but as production moved west so did the writers. Simon and his wife were native New Yorkers through and through and didn’t want to move to Glitter City. So he turned to playwrighting. Broadway wasn’t going west.
But he was not happy with the movie version. Jews don’t think of the “old country” as Las Vegas. So from then on Simon did his own screenplay adaptations.
Well, that’s it for me tonight. I’ll be back next week for more in TCM’s “Friday Night Spotlight” to Neil Simon. I’ll see you then.