powered by AFI
Thirty-year-old New Yorker Seymour Moskowitz is an unambitious carpark attendant with a walrus mustache, a ponytail and an admiration for Humphrey Bogart. Seymour's attempts at picking up women by insisting that he has already met them frequently gets him thrown out of bars and into fistfights. Unhappy with his life, Seymour asks his mother Sheba for money to fly to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, intelligent and lonely Minnie Moore, a well-paid Los Angeles County Museum of Art employee in her late thirties, tells her middle-aged co-worker Florence that the movies are a "conspiracy," because they set up a person to believe in romance. After watching old movies at the theater, the two unmarried women get drunk and talk confidentially about sex and love. Minnie mourns that in real life Bogart, Clark Gable and Charles Boyer do not exist. Later that evening, Minnie, still drunk, stumbles out of Florence's apartment and takes a cab home, where she is surprised by the presence of her married lover Jim. Suspicious that she might have been out with another man, he slaps her, and then, when he tries to comfort her, she hits him repeatedly and asks sarcastically if he is jealous about the great times she is having. Feeling insecure, Minnie begs Jim to stay, despite her annoyance. Later, when Jim returns home, two of his sons tell him about their ball game he missed and another reports that their mother is on the bathroom floor crying. When Florence arranges a blind date for Minnie with rich, unattractive Zelmo Swift, Minnie is uninterested, but Zelmo seems so gallantly pleased by her that she is charmed into going out with him. He takes her to the restaurant where, coincidentally, Seymour is employed as a valet. Nervously, Zelmo talks about romance and his love of literature, and for a moment, Minnie takes off the large sunglasses she constantly wears both indoors and out. However, in his anxiety, Zelmo loudly reveals too much personal information too fast, and the embarrassed Minnie walks out. Angered by her rejection, Zelmo follows and becomes abusive. He leaves her stranded at the restaurant, but then drives back to call her a "whore." Coming to her defense, Seymour enters the fight and is hit by Zelmo. Seymour then climbs into his truck and invites Minnie to join him. Tires screeching and adrenaline pumping, Seymour takes Minnie to Pink's Hot Dogs for lunch. Seeing her shaking, he offers his shoulder to lean on and is obviously smitten with her. However, Minnie, who is uncomfortable about fighting off another male, leaves to return to work. Seymour follows Minnie in his truck, honking for her attention, then drives onto the sidewalk, and pulls her into the truck's cab. She retaliates by hitting him, until he reminds her that he has to watch out for traffic. After Seymour lets Minnie off at the museum, she finds Jim waiting for her with his son Ned. Jim breaks off the relationship, explaining that his wife attempted suicide. Later, Seymour takes Minnie out to eat, after which they drive around the city. When Minnie points out that all Seymour talks about is eating, spending money and cars, he offers to discuss how he fell in love with her the first time he saw her. Bluntly, he adds that she has a way of depressing him, because she wears sunglasses at night and seems to look down on people. This precipitates an argument between them that ends their date. After dropping Minnie off at her home, Seymour spends the night with another woman, but early the next day, knocks insistently on Minnie's door until she is forced to let him in. Minnie explains that she is tired, has trouble crying and is weary of men. Although she is unhappy about being alone, Minnie admits that people either bore or depress her. When she starts to cry, Seymour carries her up the stairs to her bed, assuring her that he is a good person, and tells her to sleep. Later, as Seymour sleeps, Minnie awakens and goes to an ice cream parlor, orders two hot fudge sundaes and summons Seymour to meet her there. At first Seymour is frustrated, but when he realizes that she is trying to be romantic, he plays along. Later, after watching an old movie at a drive-in, Seymour and Minnie kiss in the car. Having second thoughts, Minnie pulls away, stating that she feels too old. In reply, Seymour accuses her of thinking too much and takes her to a western-style dancing place, where he declares his love for her. When Minnie says they have nothing in common, Seymour, frustrated but determined, explains that he will always look at her and feel "newness," which is not how he feels about other women. Minnie confesses that he does not fulfill her romantic notions and refuses to go inside. However, when Seymour turns on the radio, which plays romantic swing band music, she dances with him in the parking lot, making Seymour so happy that he walks on his hands. Acquaintances of Minnie arrive and she chats with them, but does not introduce Seymour. Afterward, she makes excuses and apologizes to Seymour, but he realizes she was embarrassed by him and leaves her there. After one of Minnie's friends, Dick Henderson, takes her home, she finds Seymour waiting near her door. Seymour attacks Dick, and when Minnie tries to break them up, she is hit in the face. After finally knocking out Seymour, Dick apologizes and leaves. When Seymour awakens, he too apologizes and carries her inside. In the bathroom, she finds that one of her teeth is loose, but states that it is not his fault. Minnie notes that every time they are together one of them gets hurt, because what they really want does not exist. Becoming angry, Seymour begins to throw objects, and then offers to clean up the mess he made, saying that when you are in love, you make a fool of yourself. Seymour laments that every other girl he has known was in love with him, but the only girl he loves does not love him. Wanting to know what would make her love him, he cuts off his mustache and is about to cut his hair when she stops him. After they calm down, Seymour, seeing that Minnie has had a change of heart, asks her to do something special for him. At his request, she sings, "I Love You Truly" and he joins in and then proposes. Immediately, they call their respective mothers to invite them to the wedding. Soon after, Seymour, Sheba, Minnie and her mother Georgia dine at a restaurant. Upon learning that the couple has known each other only four days, Sheba suggests that if Minnie is not pregnant, they should wait a year. Although Georgia reminisces about Minnie's childhood and how fast children grow up, Sheba, who is blunt and practical, is unimpressed with Seymour and Minnie's engagement. Sheba confides to Georgia that she gave Seymour money to come to California and warns her that their offspring will always be turning to them for help. Sheba points out that the attractive Minnie could marry a "normal man," as opposed to Seymour, who is a car parker, and neither smart nor good-looking. Despite Sheba's misgivings, Minnie and Seymour have a quiet Episcopal wedding, with their mothers, Florence and Dick in attendance, during which the minister forgets Minnie's name. In spite of their parents' misgivings, several years and several children later, the family celebrates their happiness.