Monday, December 15, 2008

"Cactus Flower" Matthau, Bergman & Hawn

Based on the hit Broadway play which starred Lauren Bacall and Brenda Vaccaro, the 1969 film, Cactus Flower, with Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn is a lighthearted romantic comedy which earned its female leads Golden Globes and wan newcomer Hawn an Oscar in her debut supporting role. The film tells the story of a philandering dentist whose affair facilitating alibis catch up with him when he decides to play it straight. He has lied to his girlfriend, telling her that he is unhappily married, when he is in fact single, but does not want to commit. Now he not only needs to find a pretend wife, but he also has to divorce her.

Bergman plays successfully against type. Her go-go dancing scene in the film inspired the infamous Elaine Benes dancing scene in TV's Seinfeld. Rick Lenz, who plays Igor Sullivan, Hawn's handsome neighbor, sounds eerily like James Stewart. The writing is funny, if typical sit-com fare. Matthau and Hawn fall out of love but each falls into another. The youngsters are in many ways more mature than their elders. The ending is happy and plausible. In the end, the cactus blooms. This film makes few demands, but it is a rewarding delight. The film plays occasionally on cable, including Turner Classic Movies, where I first saw it. It is also available on DVD and here at YouTube:

No comments: