Only When I Laugh (film)

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For the similarly titled 1968 film, see Only When I Larf (film).
Only When I Laugh
Only when i laugh.jpg
Only When I Laugh theatrical poster
Directed by Glenn Jordan
Produced by Neil Simon
Roger M. Rothstein
Written by Neil Simon (based on his play "The Gingerbread Lady")
Starring Marsha Mason
Kristy McNichol
James Coco
Joan Hackett
David Dukes
Music by David Shire
Cinematography David M. Walsh
Edited by John Wright
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 23, 1981 (1981-09-23)
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $25,524,778

Only When I Laugh is a 1981 film based on Neil Simon's play The Gingerbread Lady.

The story is about an alcoholic Broadway actress who tries to stay sober while dealing with the problems of her teenaged daughter and her friends: an overly vain woman who fears the loss of her looks and a gay actor relegated to small roles in third-rate shows. Simon changed the main character's name to Georgia Hines for the film adaptation; the character was named Evy Meara in the stage version. Also of note, the main character went from being a cabaret singer to a Broadway stage actress.

The film, written by Simon and directed by Glenn Jordan, stars Marsha Mason, Joan Hackett, James Coco and Kristy McNichol. It also features two short scenes with then unknowns Kevin Bacon and John Vargas. Simon's next release, I Ought to Be in Pictures, would be released just six months later, and its plot would be similar.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (James Coco), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Marsha Mason) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Joan Hackett). It was the last film Hackett completed before her death.

Ironically, Coco was also nominated for Worst Supporting Actor in Golden Raspberry Awards for the same role.


A doctor releases actress Georgia Hines from a rehab center, where she has been undergoing treatment for alcoholism. Georgia attempts to return to a somewhat normal life, but teenaged daughter Polly has moved in with her, close friends Jimmy and Toby come to her with a variety of problems, and ex-husband David Lowe wants her to star in a play he has written based on their married life.

Georgia's increasing stress leads to a relapse, beginning with drinking in secret and ultimately resulting in her sitting at a bar, where she is picked up by a stranger who then beats her up. Polly's patience is at an end by the time Georgia realizes what she is about to lose.




Awards and nominations[edit]

1982 Academy Awards
  • Nominated : Best Actress in a Leading Role Marsha Mason
  • Nominated : Best Actor in a Supporting Role James Coco
  • Nominated : Best Actress in a Supporting Role Joan Hackett
1982 Golden Globes
  • Won : Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role Joan Hackett
  • Nominated : Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role James Coco
  • Nominated : Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role Kristy McNichol
1982 Golden Raspberry Awards
  • Nominated : Worst Supporting Actor James Coco
  • Nominated : Worst Original Song – "Only When I Laugh"
1982 Young Artist Awards

Home media[edit]

The film is available for download through Apple's iTunes Store and Amazon Instant Video.[1] As of 2013, it has only been physically released on VHS and not DVD or Blu-ray.


External links[edit]