Same Time, Next Year (film)

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Same Time, Next Year
SameTimeNextYearPoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Mulligan
Produced by Walter Mirisch
Written by Bernard Slade
Starring Ellen Burstyn
Alan Alda
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Cinematography Robert Surtees
Edited by Sheldon Kahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
November 22, 1978 (1978-11-22)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Same Time, Next Year is a 1978 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Bernard Slade is based on his 1975 play of the same title. The film stars Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn.

Plot synopsis[edit]

The film opens in 1951 at an inn located on the Mendocino County coast. Doris (Ellen Burstyn) is a 24-year-old housewife from Oakland, George (Alan Alda) a 27-year-old accountant from New Jersey. They meet at dinner, have an affair, and then agree to meet once a year to rekindle the sparks they experience at their first meeting, despite the fact that both are happily married, with six children between them. They each discuss their respective spouses, "Harry" and "Helen," although neither spouse is portrayed.

Over the course of the next 26 years, they develop an emotional intimacy deeper than what one would expect to find between two people meeting for a clandestine relationship just once a year. During the time they spend with each other, they discuss births, deaths, including George's son Michael dying in Vietnam, which changes George politically, and marital problems each experiences at home, while they adapt themselves to the social changes affecting their lives.

The last meeting portrayed occurs in 1977. George's wife, Helen, who has died earlier in the year, revealed to a friend that she had known of the affair for 10 years without telling George. Now widowed, George proposes to Doris who refuses to accept because of her loyalty to, and respect for, Harry. Rejected, George leaves for good, only to return with the promise to continue the affair as long as they are able.

Production[edit]

The movie is structured as 6 episodes occurring approximately 5 years apart. Between the scenes are shown a series of photos that relate to the time period of the next episode. The photos are of real life politicians and entertainers such as Harry S. Truman, Nikita Khrushchev, Lucille Ball, Elvis, and John F. Kennedy. The episodes are period specific often making references to what was actually happening at the time portrayed. For example, in the episode about the late 60's Doris is caught up in the protest movement at Berkeley while George takes a Librium and reveals that he voted for Barry Goldwater.

Exteriors for the film were shot at the Heritage House Inn, in Little River, California, seven miles south of Mendocino, California. The shell of the cottage was built on a temporary foundation overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but the interior was filmed on at the Universal Studios sound stage in Los Angeles. After filming was completed, Universal paid for the shell to be relocated to a permanent foundation and the interior was outfitted with the studio furnishings. The cottage became a popular romantic getaway, so popular in fact that the Heritage House eventually partitioned the cottage in half and added a second bathroom to the opposite end. One half of the cottage was called "Same Time" and the other half called "Next Year". The Heritage House closed due to foreclosure in December 2008.[1] The "Same Time, Next Year" cottage still stands, and the Heritage House reopened in the Summer of 2013.

Paul McCartney had composed a title song for the film, which he recorded with Wings, that was not used. He later released it as the B-side of a single in 1990. The theme song ultimately used was "The Last Time I Felt Like This," written by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman and performed by Johnny Mathis and Jane Olivor.

Slade's play was also adapted by Hong Kong filmmaker Clifton Ko for his 1994 movie I Will Wait for You starring Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Anita Yuen.

Critical reception[edit]

While Bernard Slade's acclaimed stage play earned a storm of praise, the movie received mixed reviews. Janet Maslin of the New York Times said, "Mr. Slade's screenplay isn't often funny, and it's full of momentous events that can't be laughed away . . . As directed by Robert Mulligan . . . Same Time, Next Year is both less and more than it could have been. By moving the action outdoors once in a while, or into the inn's restaurant, Mr. Mulligan loses the element of claustrophobia that might have taken an audience's mind off the screenplay's troubles. But he substitutes the serenity of a California coastal setting, and gives the film a visual glamour that is mercifully distracting. Mr. Mulligan seems to have been more interested in sprucing up the material than in preserving its absolute integrity, and under the circumstances, his approach makes sense . . . Mr. Alda isn't terribly playful, and he reads every line as if it were part of a joke, which only accentuates the flatness of the script. Miss Burstyn, on the other hand . . . brings so much sweetness to Doris's various incarnations that the character very nearly comes to life." [2]

Variety called the film "a textbook example of how to successfully transport a stage play to the big screen" and added "The production of Bernard Slade's play, sensitively directed by Robert Mulligan, is everything you'd want from this kind of film. And it features two first class performances by Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda." [3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]