Nobody expected this charming romantic comedy by Neil Simon to do much business at the box office. Its biggest star, Richard Dreyfuss, was hot off the success of Jaws (1975), but this tale of a struggling actor forced to share an apartment with a bitter divorcee (Marsha Mason) and her precocious little girl didn’t have that film’s giant shark to drive ticket sales. Nonetheless, the perfect blend of actors and script pushed what was advertised as a tale of “love at first fight” into the winner’s column. It became the first romantic comedy to break $100 million at the box office and won Dreyfuss the Oscar for Best Actor. Simon had written the script for then-wife Mason as a more serious piece about a woman struggling to adjust to her actor husband’s newfound success in Hollywood. When original leading man Robert De Niro didn’t work out, Simon held auditions for another co-star. Dreyfuss read so well, Simon realized the real problem had been the script, which he completely re-wrote in six weeks to create an enduring fan favorite.
Presented in collaboration with Warner Bros.
Dir. Herbert Ross
In attendance: Richard Dreyfuss