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Alienated from his son's family, an elderly man becomes infatuated with a pregnant teen.
In Los Angeles, seventy-two-year-old retired salesman Joseph P. Kotcher has been living with his son and daughter-in-law, Gerald and Wilma, for several months and enjoying the companionship of his baby grandson, Duncan. One day Wilma, who resents that Kotch has moved into their house, decides to hire Erica "Ricci" Herzenstiel, an orphaned teenager who lives with her brother and sister-in-law, to baby-sit. Dubious of her abilities, Kotch joins Erica when she takes Duncan to the park, but when her boyfriend, Vincent Perrin, arrives in his car to pick up Erica and Duncan, Erica leaves Kotch behind. Having a keen interest in life, the loquacious Kotch tries to start conversations with strangers in the park, who politely ignore him. After seeing a little girl crying in the swimming pool, Kotch cheers her up, then pats her on the behind to send her on her way. Mistaking his intentions, Mrs. Fisher, the mother of the child, files a complaint that Kotch "indecently" touched her daughter and, that evening, she and Miss Roberts, a Parks Department employee, confront Kotch at his home. While defending himself, Kotch seems to digress, making it hard for the others to follow his logic, but Miss Roberts is amused and satisfied with Kotch's explanation. When Gerald and Wilma go out for the evening, Erica baby-sits, despite Kotch's complaint that hiring her is a "damned extravagance." He spends most of the evening listening to music on headphones, but later in the evening checks on Erica and the baby and realizes she and Vinnie are making love while the baby sleeps. Later that night, Kotch tells Gerald about the incident, but his rambling manner of speech causes Gerald to miss his point. Prompted by recollections of making out with his girl friend in a car many years ago, the next morning Kotch has second thoughts about reporting Erica's behavior and asks Gerald to forget about their conversation. Soon after, Kotch learns that Erica is no longer working as Duncan's babysitter and confronts Gerald, who informs Kotch that Erica left to take a job in San Bernardino. Wilma's numerous complaints about Kotch soon prompt Gerald to research retirement communities for his father. Without explaining where they are going, Gerald and Wilma take Kotch to look at a senior citizens' village. He immediately concludes that the people are "too old" for him, but realizing that Wilma wants him out of the house, agrees to move there temporarily. Required by the home to undergo psychological tests, Kotch resigns himself to the humorless psychologist who administers them, but when he sees that she has written in his record that he is unimaginative and too literal, Kotch decides to make other plans. After kissing Duncan goodbye, Kotch first goes to Erica's high school to present her with a gift of money, as he feels responsible for her situation. Upon finding her clearing out her locker, Kotch learns that Erica is pregnant and moving to San Bernardino to work at a beauty shop. She complains about feeling betrayed by her sister-in-law Candy, who encouraged her to confide her problems and then made sure she was exiled to San Bernardino. At first she refuses Kotch's money, but then accepts it as a loan. Kotch then embarks on a bus trip up the coast, all the while talking to the other passengers and reminiscing about his deceased wife Vera. When he returns home, Gerald and Wilma are holding a Halloween party and he discovers that Wilma has appropriated his room for her sewing. He receives a postcard from Erica bearing the address of a motel, which explains that she is unable to repay the loan due to "difficulties." When he goes to the motel to visit her, he learns that she has lost her job and moved. At the beauty shop where Erica had worked, Kotch learns from Erica's co-worker Sissy that she was fired because she was unlicensed to shampoo hair and took another job in Palm Springs. Concerned about Erica, Kotch asks around at Palm Springs beauty shops until he finds her and then takes her to lunch. When Erica tells him that she is having difficulty with her landlady and will soon lose her current job because her pregnancy is "showing," Kotch invites her to share a house that he has rented in nearby Cathedral City, but she declines. On Christmas Eve, as Kotch finds himself alone and reminiscing about happier holidays, Erica arrives and moves in, having found his house because he told her it was next to a bowling alley. They get along well together and, in anticipation of her doctor visits and the trip to the hospital for her delivery, he buys a decades-old car, which he considers more dependable than the newer ones. She confides that she never told Vinnie about the baby and that her parents died in a car accident, leaving her to be reared by her cold older brother. Kotch tells her about Vera and how they had wanted a daughter, and attends Erica's hospital child-bearing courses. After informing Kotch that she is giving the baby up for adoption to a couple her doctor, Ramon Caudillo, knows, Erica goes to a country club to meet them. Kotch, hoping she will keep the child, remains silent, but buys a crib and spends the evening putting it together. When Kotch becomes ill with a virus, Caudillo arranges for Erica to stay a few days with the adoptive parents and for a local man, Pablo, to take care of Kotch. Later, after Kotch recovers, Erica's brother and guardian, Peter, brings some papers for her to sign. More interested in the "plushy" toy dogs he sells wholesale than he is in Erica, Peter leaves the papers for Kotch to deliver. Kotch drives to the home where Erica is staying and learns from the Spanish-speaking housekeeper that she has gone to the couple's cabin to be alone and think. After arriving at the cabin late in the day, Kotch plans to drive Erica back in the morning, but during the night, she starts to have labor pains. They begin the long drive down a steep mountain road to the hospital in town, but must stop at a gas station, where Kotch delivers the baby on the ladies room floor. Later, while recuperating at Kotch's home, Erica writes a letter to her son, whom she still plans to give up, that she hopes will be presented to him when he is older. Frustrated, she crumples up the letter and calls Vinnie, intending to tell him about the baby. However, when they quarrel, she hangs up on him. The next morning, Kotch finds a letter from Erica explaining that she has decided to keep the baby, whom she has named Chris, and has returned to Los Angeles on an early morning flight. Soon after, Gerald and Wilma arrive, and Wilma, who has had a change of heart, apologizes and invites Kotch to come back. He declines, explaining that he plans to buy the house he is renting and has been offered a job running a small shop, adding that they will always be welcome to visit him. Later, while cleaning the house, Kotch finds Erica's crumpled letter to Chris. In it, she tells Chris how much they owe "old" Kotch and that he would have made Chris a great grandfather. When a friend drives by and invites him out to drink, Kotch is happy to go along.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||GP||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 30 Sep 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
A Kotch Company Production A Division of Frugal Films, Ltd.
AFI-DVD*, EB*, Netflix
|Color/B&W:||Color (Metrocolor)||Distributions Co:||Cinerama Releasing Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Kotch Company Productions, ABC Pictures Corp.|
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If you like good sentimental...
5 stars for performances, directing and musical score. They don't do them like this anymore.
A jewel. And what a score
I saw this movie when i was 18 and was touched by it. A tender and sensitive picture. Hamlisch's score is so marvelous i cannot understand why is not...
Jay Higgins 2009-10-18
Walter Matthau gives a brilliant performance, and Jack Lemmon's sensitive direction makes this film a winner. It's a touching story and very...