Cactus Flower (film)

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Cactus Flower
Cactus Flower 1969.jpg
Directed byGene Saks
Produced byM. J. Frankovich
Written byI. A. L. Diamond
Based on Cactus Flower by Abe Burrows
StarringWalter Matthau
Ingrid Bergman
Goldie Hawn
Music byQuincy Jones
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byMaury Winetrobe
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 16, 1969 (1969-12-16)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million
Box office$25.8 million[1]

Cactus Flower is a 1969 American comedy film directed by Gene Saks and starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her performance.

The screenplay was adapted by I. A. L. Diamond from the Broadway play of the same name written by Abe Burrows, which in turn was based upon the French play Fleur de cactus by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy. The film was the eighth highest-grossing film of 1969.


21-year-old Toni Simmons attempts to commit suicide by inhaling gas from a second-hand stove. Her neighbor, Igor Sullivan, smells the gas and rescues her by using mouth to mouth resuscitation, which evolves into a kiss after Toni regains consciousness.

Toni's failed suicide attempt stems from her despondency following being stood up by her lover, Dr. Julian Winston (Walter Matthau). Julian Winston, a dentist, had told Toni from the beginning of their relationship that he had a wife and three children. Unknown to Toni, Julian is not married; and Toni hates lying above all other transgressions. Upon learning of Toni's suicide attempt, Julian decides to marry Toni, but he needs a wife to divorce in order to sustain his earlier lie. Julian asks Stephanie Dickinson, his longtime nurse (Ingrid Bergman), to pose as his wife. At first unwilling, she ultimately relents, since she has long had a crush on her employer.

Toni senses Miss Dickinson's feelings for Julian and asks Julian to help Miss Dickinson find another man. Ultimately, Julian's friend Harvey, his patient Señor Arturo Sánchez, and Igor all become embroiled in Julian's scheme. Toni suspects Julian's untrustworthiness and leaves him for Igor. Julian finally falls in love with Miss Dickinson.

The prickly cactus Miss Dickinson keeps on her desk in the office gives the film its name. Like Miss Dickinson, the cactus thrives in the driest of settings—and Miss Dickinson gets the driest, funniest lines.

Ultimately, both the cactus and Miss Dickinson "bloom."


Actor Role Other notes
Walter Matthau Dr. Julian Winston a dentist
Ingrid Bergman Stephanie Dickinson Dr. Winston's assistant
Goldie Hawn Toni Simmons Dr. Winston's girlfriend
Jack Weston Harvey Greenfield a friend and patient of Dr. Winston
Rick Lenz Igor Sullivan a writer and Toni's neighbor
Vito Scotti Señor Arturo Sánchez a diplomat and patient of Dr. Winston
Irene Hervey Mrs. Durant a patient of Dr. Winston
Eve Bruce Georgia a date of Harvey Greenfield's
Irwin Charone Record Store Manager Toni's employer
Matthew Saks nephew one of Mrs. Dickinson's nephews


On release, the film was acclaimed by both critics and the general public, becoming the eighth highest-grossing film of 1969. Howard Thompson of The New York Times stated that "both the expansive scenario of I. A. L. Diamond and the flexible direction of Gene Saks open up and even ventilate the story".[2] Roger Ebert declared that "the chemistry works" and "the movie is better than the play".[3]

In her first major film role, Goldie Hawn, once described as the "dizzy cream puff who is constantly blowing her lines [on Laugh-In]",[4] was praised for being "a natural reactress; her timing is so canny that even her tears run amusingly".[5] Hawn's performance in Cactus Flower won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, her sole Oscar to date.

Awards and honors[edit]

Goldie Hawn won two awards for her supporting role:

In addition, there was a nomination for Ingrid Bergman and an additional one for Goldie Hawn:

Screenwriter I. A. L. Diamond was nominated for the 1969 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium, the only one of his ten screenplay nominations that was not for a screenplay that he co-wrote with Billy Wilder.

Musical score and soundtrack[edit]

Cactus Flower
Soundtrack album by Quincy Jones
GenreFilm score
Bell 1201
ProducerQuincy Jones
Quincy Jones chronology
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Cactus Flower
John and Mary

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones and featured vocalists Sarah Vaughan and Johnny Wesley and the soundtrack album was released on the Bell label in 1969.[6][7] The Vinyl Factory said "The music Jones supplied for this trippy film is Quincy’s nod to psychedelia and sunshine pop – covering the Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer’, and ‘I Wonder What She’s Doin’ Tonight', which was penned by Boyce and Hart, also of Monkees fame. Sarah Vaughan adds some gravity with ‘The Time for Love Is Anytime’, and there's even a groovy version of ‘To Sir, With Love’. A sweet cocktail.".[8]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Cynthia Weil and Quincy Jones except where noted

  1. "The Time for Love is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme)" − 2:48
  2. "To Sir with Love" (Mark London, Don Black) − 3:30
  3. "I Needs to Be Bee'd With" (Quincy Jones, Ernie Shelby) − 2:35
  4. "I'm a Believer" (Neil Diamond) − 3:00
  5. "The Time for Love is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme)" − 3:25
  6. "The Time for Love is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme) [Piano Version]" − 3:25
  7. "She Hangs Out (Doin' the Dentist)" (Jeff Barry) − 3:45
  8. "The Spell You Spin" (Quincy Jones, Dave Grusin, Bob Russell) − 3:48
  9. "I Wonder What She's Doin' Tonight" (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart) − 3:00
  10. "The Time for Love is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme) [Organ Version]" − 3:17



The film has been remade several times. An unauthorized Hindi version titled Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?, starring Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Katrina Kaif, was released in 2005. In 2007, it was remade in Kannada as Sathyavan Savithri, starring Ramesh Aravind. An English language remake, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was released in 2011. An Egyptian version titled Nos Sa'a Gawaz (Half-Hour Marriage), starring Rushdy Abaza, Shadia and Adel Imam, was released in 1969.

Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in this list:


  1. ^ "Box Office Information for Cactus Flower". The Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Thompson, Howard (1969-12-17). "'Cactus Flower' Blooms". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (1969-12-29). "Cactus Flower". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  4. ^ "Laugh-In Dropouts". Time Magazine. 1969-12-05. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  5. ^ "Late Bloomer". Time Magazine. 1969-12-19. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  6. ^ Soundtrack Collector: album entry accessed January 30, 2018
  7. ^ Edwards, D. & Callahan, M. Bell Album Discography, Part 2, accessed January 30, 2018
  8. ^ 10 definitive Quincy Jones soundtracks from the ’60s and ’70s, The Vinyl Factory, accessed January 30, 2018
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-18.

External links[edit]