Pete 'n' Tillie

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Pete 'n' Tillie
Theatrical poster
Directed by Martin Ritt
Produced by Julius J. Epstein
Written by Peter De Vries (story)
Julius J. Epstein
Starring Walter Matthau
Carol Burnett
Music by John Williams
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Edited by Frank Bracht
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
December 17, 1972 (1972-12-17)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,999,969[1]

Pete 'n' Tillie is a 1972 American comedy-drama film starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett[2] in the title roles. Its advertising tagline was "Honeymoon's over. It's time to get married."

Martin Ritt directed.[2] Screenwriter Julius J. Epstein[2] was nominated for an Academy Award for adapting the story from two novels by Peter De Vries: The Blood of the Lamb and Witch's Milk.[3][4] Epstein later adapted another De Vries novel for the film Reuben, Reuben.


Pete Seltzer (Matthau) is introduced to Tillie Schlaine (Burnett) at a party. Her friends Gertrude and Burt are the hosts and attempting to fix her up.

Pete is a confirmed bachelor with eccentric habits. When he isn't doing odd motivational research for a San Francisco firm, he plays ragtime piano and makes bad puns. He periodically pops in and out of Tillie's life, going days without calling but showing up spontaneously at her door. When they finally make love, he learns Tillie is a virgin.

It appears Pete might still be seeing other women, but when he gets a promotion at work, Tillie announces it's time to get married. They do, then buy a house and have a baby boy. Pete's affairs, however, apparently continue, Tillie even needing to discourage one of his young lovers at lunch.

Years go by until one day 9-year-old son Robbie (Lee Montgomery) is stricken with a fatal illness. Pete tries to shield the boy by keeping him in what Tillie calls "a world of nonsense," but the inevitable death destroys Tillie's religious faith and ruptures their marriage.

Tillie abstains from sex while Pete turns to drink and takes an apartment. Tillie's depression is alleviated a bit by a friendship with Jimmy (Rene Auberjonois), who is gay but willing to marry her if that would make Tillie happy. When she and Jimmy conspire to make Gertrude (Geraldine Page) reveal her true age at long last, the result is a public brawl between the two women.

Tillie ends up in a sanitarium. Her life has come to a standstill until Pete turns up one day. When she sees the way their son's death affects him, after years of his hiding it, Tillie and Pete leave side by side.



The film grossed $14,999,969[1] at the box office, earning an estimated $8.7 million in North American rentals in 1973.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Julius J. Epstein for Adapted Screenplay and Geraldine Page for Supporting Actress.

Walter Matthau received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and won the 1973 BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in this movie and for his performance in Charley Varrick.

Carol Burnett received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]