The misadventures of four groups of guests at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
California Suite (1978)
Directed by Herbert Ross
Written by Neil Simon
Starring Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Walter Matthau, Elaine May, Herb Edelman, Denise Galik,
Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Sheila Frazier, Gloria Gifford
Based on the stage play by Neil Simon
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith)
Oscar Nominations - Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction
California Suite contains one of the most impressive casts I’ve ever seen put together and they each have at least one great moment in the film. Herbert Ross was really busy during the 70’s and 80’s so some of his films can get a bit lost but California Suite deserves a second look, especially knowing what we know now about the cast and their careers post 1978. It’s also nice to have Neil Simon on your side with a film who was nominated by the Academy four times for his writing from ‘69 to ‘79.
California Suite focuses on four couples visiting the Beverly Hills Hotel. Hannah and Bill Warren are a separated couple, arguing over the custody of their teenage daughter. Diane Barrie and Sidney Cochran come from England to attend the Oscar ceremony for one of Diane’s performances. Dr. Chauncey Gump, Dr. Willis Panama, and their wives plan a relaxing vacation that doesn’t go as planned. And finally, Marvin and Millie Michaels are visiting from Philadelphia for their nephew's Bar Mitzvah.
My personal favorite performance in California Suite has to be Michael Caine as Sidney Cochran, the quick-witted husband to Diane Barrie. He’s speaking at an incredible speed while constructing sentences that some people could only dream of thinking up on the fly. Maggie Smith won a real-life Oscar for doing so damn good at playing fictional Oscar hopeful, Diane Barrie. She’s remarkable. Jane Fonda and Alan Alda could carry a whole film as a separated couple fighting over their child. If you like ensemble casts that can flat out act and provide laughter then definitely check out California Suite.