The Out-of-Towners (1970 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Out-of-Towners
Out of towners 1970 movie poster.jpg
promotional poster
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Produced by Paul Nathan
Written by Neil Simon
Starring Jack Lemmon
Sandy Dennis
Music by Quincy Jones
Cinematography Andrew Laszlo
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates May 28, 1970 (United States)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $7,250,000 (rentals)[1]

The Out-of-Towners is a 1970 comedy film written by Neil Simon, directed by Arthur Hiller, and starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. It was released by Paramount Pictures on May 28, 1970.

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.

A number of comic actors, including Anne Meara, Sandy Baron, Ann Prentiss, Paul Dooley, and Anthony Holland, were cast in small supporting roles.


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.

Plot summary[edit]

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 after every single problem they received and have gone through 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[edit]

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.



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.

The movie was later remade in 1999 with Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn and John Cleese, but it was not well received.


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11.

External links[edit]