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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Directed by Herbert Ross
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment 12/78 DVD/VHS Feature Film
This film would make an ideal study piece for aspiring comedy writers. Neil Simon touches upon all the basic comedy genres as he relates the experiences of five couples who check into the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Under the rubric of slapstick, we have Bill Cosby and Sheila Frazier and Richard Pryor and Gloria Gifford as a foursome on vacation together. Enroute to the hotel and once they have settled in, everything imaginable goes wrong.
Laughter which can touch both the funnybone and the tear ducts is the accent in a vignette featuring Jane Fonda and Alan Alda as a divorced couple who have been apart for nine years and are now trying to make a custody decision about their teenage daughter.
Humor with just a bit more wit is showcased in a look at the marriage relationship of Maggie Smith, as a British actress in Hollywood because of an Academy Award nomination, and Michael Cane, as her homosexual husband. And last, but not least, there is the sit-com structure of the section about Walter Matthau, an ordinary fellow whose wife Elaine May catches him in bed with a prostitute.
California Suite, expertly directed by Herbert Ross, offers audiences a smorgasbord of laughs and a variety which is the spice of good comic cinema.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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