Cast & Crew
In New York City, Lenny Cantrow, a self-absorbed sporting goods salesman with a highly inflated opinion of himself, meets gawky Lila Kolodny at a singles bar. When Lenny discovers that the ingenious Lila regards her virginity as a prize to be awarded only to her husband, Lenny proposes. After the couple is married in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, they leave for their honeymoon in Miami Beach driving Lenny's two-seater sports car. On the way there, Lenny is irritated by his bride's penchant for singing off-key. On the night they consummate their marriage, Lenny finds his ardor diminished by Lila's constant need for reassurance of her sexual prowess and her desire for chocolate bars after sex. The next day, as Lila, her mouth smeared with remnants of an egg salad sandwich she is devouring, dreamily counts the next forty or fifty years they will be spending together, Lenny begins to suspect that he has made a major mistake. After checking into their honeymoon hotel in Miami Beach, Lenny becomes impatient with Lila's attempts to comb her unruly hair and goes to the beach without her. There he meets the gazelle-like, blonde Kelly Corcoran who playfully begins to flirt with him. Lenny's state of rapture is abruptly shattered by Lila's grating voice, calling to him to join her. After roasting poolside in the sun all day, Lila develops a painful sunburn. Lenny, disgusted that she is going to "puff up" and ruin their honeymoon, leaves Lila writhing in pain in their hotel room while he goes to the bar for a drink. There he once again meets Kelly, who insouciantly inquires if he will be at the beach the next morning. Returning to his hotel room to find Lila smeared in a white ointment, Lenny insists she stay in the room and out of the sun the next day. Rushing to the beach early the next morning, Lenny frolics in the ocean with Kelly, who is amused when he admits that he is on his honeymoon. After Kelly informs Lenny that the family is moving to another hotel because her wealthy WASP father Duane does not like the "element" at their present hotel, Lenny coerces Kelly into agreeing to have a drink with him at the Corcoran's new hotel that night. Lying to Lila that he is meeting an old army buddy for a drink and will take her to dinner later, Lenny meets Kelly at the bar and confides that his marriage is over because she is the girl he has been searching for his entire life. Bemused, Kelly informs Lenny that her father detests him, but nevertheless insists that he join the family for dinner. Meanwhile, Lila dresses for dinner, and when Lenny fails to appear, is reduced to eating candy bars and watching television. Over dinner, against her father's wishes, Kelly invites Lenny to join the family fishing the next day aboard a friend's yacht. Upon returning home late that evening, Lenny lies to Lila that he missed dinner because he and his army buddy were sideswiped by a truck while driving in his friend's car, and that he has to appear in court at 7 a.m. the next morning to sign affidavits. After a day at sea with Kelly, Lenny rushes to his hotel room to change his clothes, saying that his friend has been hospitalized and that he feels obligated to visit his family, but that he will return later to take Lila to dinner. Lenny then hurries to meet Corcoran. Proclaiming that he wants to "lay his cards on the table," Lenny announces that he has fallen in love with Kelly, but there is a slight complication, because he was just married five days ago. Becoming apoplectic, Corcoran declares that he would not grant permission for Lenny to marry Kelly, even if someone "hung him from a tree and put a lit bomb in his mouth." Refusing to take no for an answer, Lenny declares that he is coming to see the Corcorans in Minnesota as soon as he gets a divorce. Afterward, Lenny takes Lila to an expensive lobster house for dinner, and as she crunches on the lobster shells, Lenny begins to discuss the transitory nature of life. Thinking that Lenny is trying to tell her he is dying, Lila becomes concerned, forcing Lenny to announce loudly that he wants out of their marriage, thus earning the consternation of the restaurant patrons who have overheard their conversation. Sickened, Lila begs to go to the restroom and throw up, but Lenny refuses to let her go and instead blithely suggests that as a consolation, they "have dinner together sometime." After a hastily expedited divorce, Lenny ventures into the frigid Minnesota winter to find Kelly. He locates her on her college campus, where she is walking with her boyfriend, the captain of every sports team on campus. Kelly rebuffs Lenny, but when he begins to follow her around campus, she tries to appease him by saying that she is flattered that he divorced his wife, but she is now preoccupied with school. When Lenny blusters sarcastically, Kelly becomes intrigued and warns him that her boyfriend will beat him up. Lenny vanquishes the boyfriend by pretending that he is a narcotics agent, sending him and his friends scurrying away. Kelly then invites Lenny to come with her to her family's summer home in the mountains, and the next night, Lenny seduces her in his motel room. Although Corcoran loathes Lenny, he agrees to meet him for Kelly's sake. Over dinner at the Corcoran house, as Lenny tries to win the family over by sputtering inanities about the wholesomeness of the vegetables, Corcoran sits in stony silence. Corcoran realizes that he has met his match when he offers Lenny $25,000 to stay away from his daughter and Lenny refuses the offer. Kelly and Lenny are wed in a large, formal Christian wedding, and at the reception, after trying to make small talk to the wealthy, conservative guests, Lenny finds himself relegated to sitting on a couch with two children, who, bored with his conversation, walk away, leaving him alone in the crowd.
Erik Lee Preminger
William G. O'connell
Erik Lee Preminger
Robert M. Reitano
Edgar J. Scherick
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Indeed, this comedy, written by Neil Simon from a story by Bruce Jay Friedman, mines both humor and discomfort from its tale of a young man (Grodin) who takes his new bride (Jeannie Berlin) on a honeymoon to Florida, becoming increasingly irritated with her habits along the way, only to then meet and fall for the gorgeous blonde shiksa of a Jewish boy's dreams (Cybill Shepherd).
Director Elaine May, who had previously found fame as part of a standup-comedy team with Mike Nichols, had recently turned to writing and directing movies, and this was her second feature as director, following A New Leaf (1971). She later directed two more features, including the maligned Ishtar (1987), but The Heartbreak Kid stands as her most critically and commercially successful picture.
There was some tension at first between Simon and May with regards to the dialogue. Simon had a contractual guarantee that not one word could be altered without his consent, but May had come from a world of improvisation, which she wanted her actors to explore during rehearsals. They compromised -- she would film every scene as written in addition to sometimes allowing improv, then would decide what to use in the editing room. "While Neil agreed to this," recalled Grodin, "I assume he found the whole situation extremely trying and, after the first couple of days of rehearsal, he was never again seen around the movie set." Grodin wasn't aware at the time that Simon's wife, Joan Baim, was dying of cancer, which might well have contributed to Simon withdrawing from a clash over dialogue. In the end, Grodin said, "there's a lot of improvisation in that movie."
Grodin's part was the object of much competition around Hollywood. Lots of stars wanted it. But May had her heart set on Grodin, a relative unknown, and had to get approval from Simon and producer Edgar Scherick. Grodin was called in to read the entire script aloud in front of the three of them. "No one laughed louder than Neil," said Grodin, and following a screen test, he won the role.
Cybill Shepherd got her part by replacing another actress, a brunette, whose hair had started falling out after it was stripped and bleached blonde. Simon had always wanted Shepherd for the role, but May hadn't been keen on her. Shepherd now came in to audition for the pair, and, Shepherd later recalled, "I started to read, and they started to laugh. As we said good-bye, Simon clasped my hand in both of his and said, 'I always knew you'd be perfect.'" Shepherd had a good experience making the film, and said that May gave her "a wonderful piece of advice that sounds dumb but works. 'When you deliver a line,' she said, 'say it as if you expect the other character to be hearing you, getting it.'"
For the role of the young bride, Simon wanted Diane Keaton. But May thought the intended contrast between Jewish and gentile wouldn't be strong enough with Keaton as the wife. Simon also thought that Jeannie Berlin, May's choice, wasn't pretty enough. May won this battle, and it was only just before filming began that anyone found out that Jeannie Berlin was Elaine May's daughter! But the decision paid off, with Berlin delivering a lauded, Oscar-nominated performance.
The Heartbreak Kid opened around Christmas in 1972 and was an immediate hit. "Suddenly, after seventeen years," Grodin later wrote, "I was considered a movie star... It was ironic. From being fired from an Off-Broadway show, Steambath, to The Heartbreak Kid, I was going from the depths to the heights of my acting career within one year in one movie, and I, of course, had the same acting ability."
However, Grodin did have to deal with the fact that some members of the public and even the press mistook him for the character he had played. As he put it: "I asked [Elaine May] if it was really necessary to show my wife crying alone in her hotel room while I was out carrying on with Cybill. It was. At the first screening of the movie, the audience hissed me. The picture was a success, but I had pretty much indelibly stamped myself into the moviegoing public's consciousness as a jerk -- at best."
The review in the New York Daily News was headlined: "You'll Hate Him, Love the Movie." Grodin knew "they meant the character, but...some of that character identification was rubbing off on me. I could tell this particularly during interviews with young women reporters who were surprised I wasn't some kind of a devious character." In the end, Grodin was totally appreciative of the film: "I thought the character was a despicable guy, but I played it with full sincerity. My job isn't to judge it. If it wasn't for Elaine May, I probably would never have had [a] movie career.
"The movie definitely struck a chord," he continued. "The number of men...who tell me how much they loved the movie and how much they indentified with the character, while flattering, is also somewhat frightening. I mean, this is a guy who leaves his wife on his honeymoon for a beautiful blonde. The end of the movie is meant to suggest that he's going to be just as unhappy as he was with his first wife."
Critics loved the film, with The New York Times' Vincent Canby calling it "very, very funny, totally unsentimental and just a bit cruel," and Thomas Meehan of The Saturday Review deeming it "a triumph of New York Jewish humor." The New Yorker's Pauline Kael raved, "Elaine May has the rarest kind of comic gift: the ability to create a world seen comically," and The Hollywood Reporter reckoned it "one of the year's funniest, most intelligent movies.... Humor flows effortlessly from the rhythmic dialogue; explosions of laughter appear, as if by magic, from situations rather than from obvious one-line jokes... Charles Grodin, in his first major film role, is exactly right... Jeannie Berlin is breathtakingly comic, honest and poignant... Her performance puts pain and comedy on the line."
There were some complaints about the abrupt ending. May had filmed an extended coda in which Grodin and Shepherd sail off on their own honeymoon, only for Grodin to start becoming irritated by his new wife's habits all over again, but for some reason this sequence was discarded.
Academy Award nominations went to Jeannie Berlin and veteran actor Eddie Albert, who steals his scenes as Shepherd's father. Albert had been nominated once before, for Roman Holiday (1953).
The Heartbreak Kid was remade in 2007, starring Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan and Malin Akerman.
By Jeremy Arnold
Charles Grodin, I Like it Better When You're Funny
Charles Grodin, It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here: My Journey Through Show Business
Charles Grodin, We're Ready For You. Mr. Grodin
Nathan Rabin, Charles Grodin interview, avclub.com
Cybill Shepherd with Aimee Lee Ball, Cybill Disobedience
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Eddie Albert (1906-2005)
The son of a real estate agent, Albert was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Ill., on April 22, 1906. His family relocated to Minneapolis when he was still an infant. Long entralled by theatre, he studied drama at the University of Minnesota. After years of developing his acting chops in touring companies, summer stock and a stint with a Mexican circus, he signed a contract with Warner Bros. and made his film debut in Brother Rat (1938). Although hardly a stellar early film career, he made some pleasant B-pictures, playing slap happy youths in Brother Rat and a Baby (1940), and The Wagons Roll at Night (1941).
His career was interrupted for military service for World War II, and after his stint (1942-45), he came back and developed a stronger, more mature screen image: Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947); Carrie (1952); his Oscar® nominated turn as the Bohemian photographer friend of Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday (1953); a charming Ali Hakim in Oklahoma (1955); and to many critics, his finest hour as an actor, when he was cast unnervingly against type as a cowardly military officer whose lack of commitment to his troops results in their deaths in Attack! (1956).
As he settled into middle-age, Albert discovered belated fame when he made the move to Hooterville. For six seasons (1965-71), television viewers loved Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendal Douglas, the bemused city slicker who, along with his charming wife Lisa (Eva Gabor), takes a chance on buying a farm in the country and dealing with all the strange characters that come along their way. Of course, I'm talking about Green Acres. If he did nothing else, Alberts proved he could be a stalwart straight man in the most inane situations, and pull it off with grace.
After the run of Green Acres, Albert found two of his best roles in the late stages of his career that once again cast him against his genial, good-natured persona: the fiercly overprotective father of Cybill Shepherd in The Heartbreak Kid (1972), for which he earned his second Oscar® nomination; and the sadistic warden in Robert Aldrich's raucous gridiron comedy The Longest Yard (1974). Soon, Albert was in demand again, and he had another hit series, playing a retired police officer who partners with a retired con artist (Robert Wagner) to form a detective agency in Switch (1975-78).
The good roles slowed down slightly by the dawn of the '80s, both film: The Concorde: Airport '79 (1979), How to Beat the High Co$t of Living (1980), Take This Job and Shove It (1981); and television: Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, Thirtysomething, offered him little in the way of expansion. Yet, Albert spent his golden years in a most admirable fashion, he became something of activist for world health and pollution issues throughout the latter stages of his life. It is widely acknowledged that International Earth Day (April 22) is honored on his birthday for his tireless work on environemental matters. Albert was married to famed hispanic actress Margo (1945-85) until her death, and is survived by his son, actor Edward Albert, a daughter, and two granddaughters.
by Michael T. Toole
Eddie Albert (1906-2005)
The film's working title was The Heartless Kid. The film's title card reads: "Neil Simon's The Heartbreak Kid." A March 1977 New York Times article noted that "A Change of Plan," Bruce Jay Friedman's short story on which Simon's screenplay was based, was only two pages long. According to Filmfacts, the picture originally concluded with "Kelly" and "Lenny" sailing for Europe on their honeymoon. During the cruise, Lenny discovers that he finds Kelly as objectionable as "Lila," his first wife. This sequence was cut before the print was released. According to an August 1971 Hollywood Reporter news item, Jerry Orbach had been the "top candidate" for the title role.
Filmfacts noted that location filming was done in New York City, Miami Beach, FL and Minneapolis, MN. Jeannie Berlin, who played Lila, is the daughter of director Elaine May, and Greg Scherick, who played the "Young boy," is the son of producer Edgar J. Scherick. Although onscreen credits list the boy under the name of Greg Scherick, in studio publicity materials, he is billed as Greg Pecque. "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" was a popular, iconic commercial song heard in the film. Modern sources add Jim Westcott to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
For their work in The Heartbreak Kid, Eddie Albert was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Berlin was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Another adaptation of Friedman's story, also entitled The Heartbreak Kid is scheduled for release in October 2007. That film, a DreamWorks production for release by Paramount, was directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, and starred Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan.
Released in United States March 1979
Released in United States Winter December 1972
Based on Bruce Jay Friedman's short story "A Change of Plan" published in Esquire (Jan 1966).
Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (FilmEssay: Misappreciated American Films) March 14-30, 1979.)
Released in United States Winter December 1972