The Out-of-Towners (1970 film)
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Paul Nathan|
|Written by||Neil Simon|
|Music by||Quincy Jones|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||May 28, 1970 (United States)|
|Running time||98 minutes|
|Box office||$7,250,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
Much of the film's humor is derived from the interaction between George, the manic husband desperately collecting the names of everyone he encounters with plans to sue every last one of them, and Gwen, the mousy wife who accepts each new indignation with quiet resignation.
Originally, playwright Neil Simon planned his tale of a suburban Ohio couple's misadventures in New York City to be one of a quartet of vignettes in his Broadway play Plaza Suite. He quickly realized, however, the comic possibilities were numerous enough to warrant a full-length treatment, and the action was more suitable for the screen than the stage. During filming in the spring of 1969, Hiller took full advantage of Manhattan, including Grand Central Station, Central Park, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in his location shooting, and substituting MacArthur Airport in Islip, New York, for the Twin Oaks, Ohio, air terminal.
The plot revolves around Gwen and George Kellerman, whose company has invited him to interview for a possible job promotion in New York City. From the moment they depart their home town of Twin Oaks, Ohio, the couple suffers nearly every indignity out-of-towners possibly could experience: Heavy fog forces their flight to circle around Kennedy Intl. Airport repeatedly and finally to be rerouted to Boston's Logan Airport, where they discover their luggage - in which George's ulcer medication and Gwen's extra cash are packed - was left behind. Just missing the train at South Station, they chase it to the next stop by cab, board it and wait two hours for seats in the dining car, only to discover the only food left are peanut butter sandwiches, green olives, and crackers. Upon arrival at Grand Central Terminal in New York, penniless, they discover that mass transit, taxicab drivers, and sanitation workers all are on strike. Making their way to the Waldorf-Astoria on foot past tons of garbage in a torrential downpour, they discover their reservation - guaranteed for a 10:00pm arrival - has been given away, and the hotel - like every other one in the city - is booked to capacity due to the strikes. What follows is a series of calamities that includes two muggings (one while they sleep in Central Park), kidnapping by armed liquor store robbers while the Kellermans are riding in a police car, a cracked tooth, broken high heels, accusations of child molestation, an exploding manhole cover, expulsion from a church, and an attack by protestors in front of the Cuban embassy. With each successive catastrophe, George angrily writes down each perpetrator's name and promises to sue them or their company when he returns home. The only thing that goes right for George is he somehow manages to arrive on time for his interview. Despite receiving a very lucrative offer, the two realize an upwardly mobile move to the big city is not what they truly cherish and desire for themselves or their family, and they make the decision to return to Ohio, only to be subjected to one more major catastrophe -- their flight home is hijacked to Cuba. Gwen says "Oh my god!" ending the film......
Real life comparisons
Many of the incidents depicted in the films mirrored many real life events going on at the time, especially in New York. Some of the incidents depicted included:
- The transit strike the Kellerman's endured mirrored the real life 1966 New York City transit strike, which began on New Year's Day 1966 the first day of John V. Lindsay's mayoralty, the first of many labor disputes that would haunt the mayor's two terms.
- The sanitation strike depicted in the film also mirrored the infamous 1968 strike that also hit the city.
- The dilapidated condition and poor overcrowded service of the train the Kellermans take from Boston to New York mirrored the decline of passenger rail service that was occurring throughout the entire country in the late 1960s.
- The muggings and robberies the Kellermans endured mirrored the rising crime rate in many major American cities at the time especially in New York. Additionally New York's Central Park was portrayed as a haven for crime which it was becoming known for at the time.
- Jack Lemmon as George Kellerman
- Sandy Dennis as Gwen Kellerman
- Sandy Baron as Lenny Moyers
- Anne Meara as Purse Snatching Victim in Police Station
- Ron Carey as Barney Polacek, Cab Driver in Boston
- Ann Prentiss as 1st Stewardess
- Robert Nichols as Passenger
- Graham Jarvis as Murray the mugger
- Mary Norman as 2nd Stewardess
- Billy Dee Williams as Lost and Found Agent Clifford Robinson
Both Lemmon and Dennis were nominated for Golden Globe awards in the comedy acting categories. Simon's screenplay won him the Writers Guild of America award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen.
- "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11