Chapter Two


2h 4m 1979
Chapter Two

Brief Synopsis

A widower risks his heart when he's drawn to a young actress.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Synopsis

Author George Schneider recently lost his wife. When he starts seeing a woman and their relationship shows signs of becoming successful, the memory of his wife gets in the way of his happiness.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1980
Marsha Mason

Articles

Chapter Two


In Neil Simon's autobiographical romantic comedy Chapter Two (1979) James Caan stars as George Schneider, a successful writer mourning the recent death of his beloved first wife. When he meets the bright vivacious actress Jennie MacLaine (Marsha Mason), George is eager to rush into another marriage following a whirlwind courtship. However, it isn't long before memories of his first wife threaten to ruin his second chance for happiness with Jennie.

Chapter Two was based on Neil Simon's hit Broadway play of the same name which opened in 1977 and ran for 857 performances. It starred Judd Hirsch as George and Anita Gillette as Jennie. It was no secret that Simon had based the story on his own life. Simon had lost his wife of 20 years, Joan, to cancer in 1973. Without giving himself time to fully grieve the loss, Simon met and fell in love with actress Marsha Mason later that same year. After knowing each other only three weeks, the two married. Although their professional collaboration during their years together yielded several hit films including The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978) and Only When I Laugh (1981), it became clear early on that there were serious problems in the marriage. "Before I could write the play Chapter Two...I felt I had to go to Marsha to get her consent...," said Neil Simon in his 1999 memoir The Play Goes On. "If this was too personal to go public with, despite the fact that I would try to give the characters their own personalities separate from ours, I would still have to adhere to her wishes. When I finally asked her, she said, 'It's fine with me because what you'd be telling is your story, not mine. You'd write about what was going on in your head and could only presume what was happening to me. If I want to tell my story, maybe I'll put it in my own book one day.' I was enormously grateful for her consent and encouragement, and although I knew I'd made no promises to her, I would have to treat the story as truthfully as I could."

There was one particular pivotal episode in their marriage which inspired the play's (and film's) most famous scene. As Marsha Mason explained in her 2000 memoir Journey: A Personal Odyssey, "There's a lot of pain in Neil and a lot of anger too. Perhaps he doesn't want to control his feelings, because he's a writer. He likes drama...The drama left me exhausted, scared, and unable to put two intelligent sentences together, but once in a great while I'd find the words and say something that was like connecting a bat with a ball and hitting a home run. One such home run is on film, in Chapter Two. It's the big speech toward the end of the picture; that scene was taken from life, more or less."

"Marsha put up with my dissatisfaction as long as she could," said Neil Simon in The Play Goes On explaining the episode, "then suddenly one day an explosion came. After some stinging words from me, in which I threatened to leave, to get out, Marsha came to me with a torrent of words that flowed out with such anger, but such truth, that she never missed a beat, never tripped over a single syllable or consonant. Each thought was fully formed, each one following the other as if she had learned it, practiced it, rehearsed it - but I knew it was spontaneous, that it was coming from the bottom of her heart and soul, her one last chance to save something good. She always knew I was the better one with words...But on that day, during that speech, I sat silently looking at her, amazed at her breathtaking demonstration of someone saying something that she knows to be so right, so honest, so truthful, that she has tossed away the possibilities of the consequences and fired away. Two things happened to me at the same time. One I was grateful for; the other I was almost ashamed of. I was grateful for her bravery, her intelligence and her love. I was ashamed because I knew that what she said was so powerful, I was going to put it in the play. It was so organic it needed to be in the play, needed to be said so that my couple could save their marriage...There was no way I could remember exactly what she said, of course, but I paraphrased it, remembering the essential thoughts. If it sounds well written, it's not. It was a gift of words and feelings that I did not invent."

Marsha Mason chose not to play Jennie on the Broadway stage since the role hit too close to home at the time. However, she changed her mind when she had the chance to make the film version. "...she felt that so much time had passed before the picture was made," explained Neil Simon, "she could separate herself from Jennie and simply think of the role as a character she'd like to play." Simon wrote the screenplay for the film, gently shifting the focus more towards the character of Jennie while the play had centered more on George. James Caan was cast as George, while Joseph Bologna and Valerie Harper played the comic supporting roles of George's brother and Jennie's best friend.

Reviews of Chapter Two were positive, most singling out Marsha Mason's luminous portrayal of Jennie. "Miss Mason gives a vibrant, appealing performance that minimizes the movie's troubles and encourages the audience to sit back and enjoy the scenery," said the New York Times. "Miss Mason, who has been acting more confidently and looking prettier with each successive movie, is this time every bit as sunny and intelligently appealing as Mr. Simon's screenplay means her to be; the material rests the weight of the movie upon her shoulders, and she carries it ably." Variety said, "Chapter Two represents Neil Simon at his big-screen best. Film version of his successful and loosely autobiographical play is tender, compassionate and gently humorous all at once. Marsha Mason's tremendous performance under Robert Moore's sensitive direction gives the pic another boost."

The speech that Mason gives in the film inspired by her own marriage generated strong responses. "When she said it...audiences in film theaters often applauded her when she finished," said Neil Simon, "grateful that she was a spokeswoman for wives who might have had the same trouble in their own marriages." Mason was rewarded for her work by receiving her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.

Although Neil Simon and Marsha Mason ended their marriage in 1984, Chapter Two remains a highlight of their long and successful professional collaboration together on the silver screen.

Producer: Ray Stark
Director: Robert Moore
Screenplay: Neil Simon (screenplay and play)
Cinematography: David M. Walsh
Art Direction: Pete Smith
Music: Marvin Hamlisch
Film Editing: Michael A. Stevenson
Cast: James Caan (George Schneider), Marsha Mason (Jennie MacLaine), Joseph Bologna (Leo Schneider), Valerie Harper (Faye Medwick), Alan Fudge (Lee Michaels), Judy Farrell (Gwen Michaels), Debra Mooney (Marilyn), Ray Young (Gary)
C-126m.

by Andrea Passafiume
Chapter Two

Chapter Two

In Neil Simon's autobiographical romantic comedy Chapter Two (1979) James Caan stars as George Schneider, a successful writer mourning the recent death of his beloved first wife. When he meets the bright vivacious actress Jennie MacLaine (Marsha Mason), George is eager to rush into another marriage following a whirlwind courtship. However, it isn't long before memories of his first wife threaten to ruin his second chance for happiness with Jennie. Chapter Two was based on Neil Simon's hit Broadway play of the same name which opened in 1977 and ran for 857 performances. It starred Judd Hirsch as George and Anita Gillette as Jennie. It was no secret that Simon had based the story on his own life. Simon had lost his wife of 20 years, Joan, to cancer in 1973. Without giving himself time to fully grieve the loss, Simon met and fell in love with actress Marsha Mason later that same year. After knowing each other only three weeks, the two married. Although their professional collaboration during their years together yielded several hit films including The Goodbye Girl (1977), The Cheap Detective (1978) and Only When I Laugh (1981), it became clear early on that there were serious problems in the marriage. "Before I could write the play Chapter Two...I felt I had to go to Marsha to get her consent...," said Neil Simon in his 1999 memoir The Play Goes On. "If this was too personal to go public with, despite the fact that I would try to give the characters their own personalities separate from ours, I would still have to adhere to her wishes. When I finally asked her, she said, 'It's fine with me because what you'd be telling is your story, not mine. You'd write about what was going on in your head and could only presume what was happening to me. If I want to tell my story, maybe I'll put it in my own book one day.' I was enormously grateful for her consent and encouragement, and although I knew I'd made no promises to her, I would have to treat the story as truthfully as I could." There was one particular pivotal episode in their marriage which inspired the play's (and film's) most famous scene. As Marsha Mason explained in her 2000 memoir Journey: A Personal Odyssey, "There's a lot of pain in Neil and a lot of anger too. Perhaps he doesn't want to control his feelings, because he's a writer. He likes drama...The drama left me exhausted, scared, and unable to put two intelligent sentences together, but once in a great while I'd find the words and say something that was like connecting a bat with a ball and hitting a home run. One such home run is on film, in Chapter Two. It's the big speech toward the end of the picture; that scene was taken from life, more or less." "Marsha put up with my dissatisfaction as long as she could," said Neil Simon in The Play Goes On explaining the episode, "then suddenly one day an explosion came. After some stinging words from me, in which I threatened to leave, to get out, Marsha came to me with a torrent of words that flowed out with such anger, but such truth, that she never missed a beat, never tripped over a single syllable or consonant. Each thought was fully formed, each one following the other as if she had learned it, practiced it, rehearsed it - but I knew it was spontaneous, that it was coming from the bottom of her heart and soul, her one last chance to save something good. She always knew I was the better one with words...But on that day, during that speech, I sat silently looking at her, amazed at her breathtaking demonstration of someone saying something that she knows to be so right, so honest, so truthful, that she has tossed away the possibilities of the consequences and fired away. Two things happened to me at the same time. One I was grateful for; the other I was almost ashamed of. I was grateful for her bravery, her intelligence and her love. I was ashamed because I knew that what she said was so powerful, I was going to put it in the play. It was so organic it needed to be in the play, needed to be said so that my couple could save their marriage...There was no way I could remember exactly what she said, of course, but I paraphrased it, remembering the essential thoughts. If it sounds well written, it's not. It was a gift of words and feelings that I did not invent." Marsha Mason chose not to play Jennie on the Broadway stage since the role hit too close to home at the time. However, she changed her mind when she had the chance to make the film version. "...she felt that so much time had passed before the picture was made," explained Neil Simon, "she could separate herself from Jennie and simply think of the role as a character she'd like to play." Simon wrote the screenplay for the film, gently shifting the focus more towards the character of Jennie while the play had centered more on George. James Caan was cast as George, while Joseph Bologna and Valerie Harper played the comic supporting roles of George's brother and Jennie's best friend. Reviews of Chapter Two were positive, most singling out Marsha Mason's luminous portrayal of Jennie. "Miss Mason gives a vibrant, appealing performance that minimizes the movie's troubles and encourages the audience to sit back and enjoy the scenery," said the New York Times. "Miss Mason, who has been acting more confidently and looking prettier with each successive movie, is this time every bit as sunny and intelligently appealing as Mr. Simon's screenplay means her to be; the material rests the weight of the movie upon her shoulders, and she carries it ably." Variety said, "Chapter Two represents Neil Simon at his big-screen best. Film version of his successful and loosely autobiographical play is tender, compassionate and gently humorous all at once. Marsha Mason's tremendous performance under Robert Moore's sensitive direction gives the pic another boost." The speech that Mason gives in the film inspired by her own marriage generated strong responses. "When she said it...audiences in film theaters often applauded her when she finished," said Neil Simon, "grateful that she was a spokeswoman for wives who might have had the same trouble in their own marriages." Mason was rewarded for her work by receiving her third Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Although Neil Simon and Marsha Mason ended their marriage in 1984, Chapter Two remains a highlight of their long and successful professional collaboration together on the silver screen. Producer: Ray Stark Director: Robert Moore Screenplay: Neil Simon (screenplay and play) Cinematography: David M. Walsh Art Direction: Pete Smith Music: Marvin Hamlisch Film Editing: Michael A. Stevenson Cast: James Caan (George Schneider), Marsha Mason (Jennie MacLaine), Joseph Bologna (Leo Schneider), Valerie Harper (Faye Medwick), Alan Fudge (Lee Michaels), Judy Farrell (Gwen Michaels), Debra Mooney (Marilyn), Ray Young (Gary) C-126m. by Andrea Passafiume

Ray Stark (1915-2004)


Ray Stark, the celebrated Hollywood producer who opened the world for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968), and was a recipient of the distinguished Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for his services to the movie industry, died of natural causes on January 17th in Los Angeles. He was 88.

Born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, Stark was educated at Rutgers University and New York University Law School. After graduation, he started his entertainment career selling radio scripts before he became a literary agent for such notable writers as Ben Hecht, Thomas P. Costain, and Raymond Chandler. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Stark - who had show-business connections through his mother-in-law, Broadway legend Fanny Brice - eventually became a top Hollywood agent at Famous Artists, where he represented such stars as Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Lana Turner.

By 1957, Stark was hungry to develop more of a taste in the film business, so he formed a partnership with fellow producer Elliott Hyman to create the independent movie firm, Seven Arts Productions. Stark's first film production credit was the popular drama The World of Suzie Wong (1960) starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan; and he followed that up with an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' superb Night of the Iguana (1964) with Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner.

Around this time, Stark had the ambition to produce a musical based on the life of his late mother-in-law, and produced his first Broadway musical - Funny Girl. The musical opened on March 24, 1964 and made Barbra Streisand the toast of the Great White Way. Eventually, Stark would make the film adaptation four years later, and Streisand would win the Academy Award for Best Actress. Stark would also arrange a contract with Streisand to do three more movies for him within the next 10 years that still prove to be the most interesting of her career: the hilarious sex farce The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) with George Segal; the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford; and the sequel to her film debut Funny Lady (1975) co-starring Omar Sharif.

Stark also delivered another Broadway luminary to the movie going masses when he brought a string of well-acted, Neil Simon comedies to the silver screen, most notably: The Goodbye Girl (1977) with Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss (Oscar winner, Best Actor); The Sunshine Boys (1975) with Walter Matthau and George Burns (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actor); California Suite (1978) with Alan Alda, Michael Caine, and Dame Maggie Smith (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actress); the nostalgic Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986) with Blythe Danner; and Biloxi Blues (1988) with Matthew Broderick. He also produced Steel Magnolias (1989), with an ensemble cast that introduced audiences to a radiantly young Julia Roberts. In television, Stark won an Emmy award for the HBO's telefilm Barbarians at the Gate (1993). His last credit as a producer (at age 84) was the Harrison Ford picture Random Hearts (1999).

Although he never won an Academy Award, Stark earned the most prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1980 and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1999. He is survived by his daughter, Wendy, and granddaughter, Allison.

by Michael T. Toole

Ray Stark (1915-2004)

Ray Stark, the celebrated Hollywood producer who opened the world for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968), and was a recipient of the distinguished Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for his services to the movie industry, died of natural causes on January 17th in Los Angeles. He was 88. Born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, Stark was educated at Rutgers University and New York University Law School. After graduation, he started his entertainment career selling radio scripts before he became a literary agent for such notable writers as Ben Hecht, Thomas P. Costain, and Raymond Chandler. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Stark - who had show-business connections through his mother-in-law, Broadway legend Fanny Brice - eventually became a top Hollywood agent at Famous Artists, where he represented such stars as Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Lana Turner. By 1957, Stark was hungry to develop more of a taste in the film business, so he formed a partnership with fellow producer Elliott Hyman to create the independent movie firm, Seven Arts Productions. Stark's first film production credit was the popular drama The World of Suzie Wong (1960) starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan; and he followed that up with an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' superb Night of the Iguana (1964) with Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. Around this time, Stark had the ambition to produce a musical based on the life of his late mother-in-law, and produced his first Broadway musical - Funny Girl. The musical opened on March 24, 1964 and made Barbra Streisand the toast of the Great White Way. Eventually, Stark would make the film adaptation four years later, and Streisand would win the Academy Award for Best Actress. Stark would also arrange a contract with Streisand to do three more movies for him within the next 10 years that still prove to be the most interesting of her career: the hilarious sex farce The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) with George Segal; the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford; and the sequel to her film debut Funny Lady (1975) co-starring Omar Sharif. Stark also delivered another Broadway luminary to the movie going masses when he brought a string of well-acted, Neil Simon comedies to the silver screen, most notably: The Goodbye Girl (1977) with Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss (Oscar winner, Best Actor); The Sunshine Boys (1975) with Walter Matthau and George Burns (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actor); California Suite (1978) with Alan Alda, Michael Caine, and Dame Maggie Smith (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actress); the nostalgic Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986) with Blythe Danner; and Biloxi Blues (1988) with Matthew Broderick. He also produced Steel Magnolias (1989), with an ensemble cast that introduced audiences to a radiantly young Julia Roberts. In television, Stark won an Emmy award for the HBO's telefilm Barbarians at the Gate (1993). His last credit as a producer (at age 84) was the Harrison Ford picture Random Hearts (1999). Although he never won an Academy Award, Stark earned the most prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1980 and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1999. He is survived by his daughter, Wendy, and granddaughter, Allison. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

I am wonderful, I'm nuts about me, and if you're stupid enough to throw someone sensational like me aside, you don't deserve as good as you've got.
- Jennie MacLaine

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1980

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979

Released in United States February 1980

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979