Cast & Crew
At Manhattan's Plaza Hotel, Karen Nash checks into suite 719, the site of her wedding night twenty-three years earlier. After chattering to the disinterested bellhop, she orders French champagne in anticipation of a romantic anniversary evening. When her husband Sam arrives, however, he is distracted with work concerns. At Karen's prompting to remember their anniversary, Sam points out with exasperation that she has both the day and the year of their wedding wrong. Soon after, Sam apologizes and kisses her, citing his current stressful work situation as the source of his bad mood. Karen offers to apply his eye drops, but when she does, he cries out in pain and snarls at her for not packing for him correctly. Sam, who has recently turned fifty-one, is vain about maintaining his youthful looks, a source of annoyance to Karen, who gazes wistfully out the window to the park below, where a young couple is kissing. Hoping to win back his favor, Karen points out that this is their honeymoon suite, but Sam proves to her that it was actually 819, causing Karen to cry. In the bedroom, she tells herself to keep her mouth shut, apologizes and hugs him, but he responds by stating that he must work. When the waiter arrives with the champagne, Sam is annoyed that Karen prattles about her family and her age so freely. Soon after, Sam's attractive secretary, Jean McCormack, arrives with papers to be signed and informs him of a major problem with the next day's presentation. As she leaves, Sam announces to Karen that he must return to the office. Karen jokes lightly about Jean to deflect her jealousy, and Sam responds defensively. Still flippant, she declares that a "fling" would be good for him, but soon grows serious and asks why they have not been happy lately. Sam answers that he longs to return to the time of his life when everything was just beginning, and Karen realizes that he is having an affair. They fight, and Sam at first tries to walk out but finally admits that he and Jean have been lovers for six months. Although he offers to do whatever Karen wants, she scoffs at him, vacillating between rage, pain and desperation. Finally, she accepts the situation, causing Sam to lash out further and accuse her of being too meek. Karen's gentle sarcasm confounds Sam, but when he tells her he will never understand her, she wonders why in that case he needs to be with someone else. As Sam walks out, Karen begs him to stay and work it out, but he tells her "maybe tomorrow" and leaves.
As Karen leaves the Plaza, famed Hollywood producer Jesse Kiplinger arrives. The smarmy, lecherous middle-aged man flirts with every woman within sight, and once in the suite, calls several women to find one who will visit him for an afternoon tryst. Finally, high school flame Muriel Tate agrees. Although they have not seen each other for fifteen years, Muriel has followed Jesse's successes closely, a fact Jesse has anticipated and is determined to use to his advantage. Despite her guilt at visiting him in his hotel room, the New Jersey housewife arrives at his door, immediately insisting that she must leave. In an all-out seduction attempt, Jesse pours on the charm, deflecting her every attempt to leave the room. Although Muriel outlines all the reasons she cannot stay for a drink, she soon accepts a stinger and the two reminisce. As she lists the many facts she has learned about him through the fan magazines, he claims never to have gotten over her, kissing her even as she is discussing her "wonderful" marriage. When Muriel rises to go, Jesse invites her to stay to meet actor Lee Marvin, and she quickly sits back down. As he makes love to her, she suddenly asks if he knows Frank Sinatra, causing him to yell in frustration. Muriel races out but he chases after her and convinces her to return. Once inside, Jesse launches into his most ambitious line, stating that his success has not quelled the loneliness of his life. Calling all three of his ex-wives "phony and unfaithful," Jesse declares that he needs Muriel to renew his faith in women. Drunk and eager to believe him, Muriel confesses that her husband is not an easy man to live with, but then prepares once again to leave. Jesse begs her to stay, and although he is initially disappointed when she asks about the Academy Awards ceremony, he mesmerizes her with a lengthy list of the stars he met there, waltzing her into the bedroom as he details the seating arrangements.
As Jesse leaves the hotel the next day, the wedding of Mimsey Hubley to Borden Eisler is about to begin. In suite 719, Mimsey has locked herself in the bathroom, while her mother Norma frantically tries to convince her to come out. Mimsey's father Roy, who obsessively counts every penny the wedding is costing him, storms into the suite and, instinctively blaming his wife, pounds on the bathroom door, exhorting Mimsey that she "can't stay in there forever, we only have the room until 6:00." As Norma screams in frustration over a ripped stocking, Roy shouts at Mimsey, whom he can see through the keyhole, to stop crying onto her wedding dress. As Roy injures his shoulder in a failed attempt to break down the bathroom door, Norma tries to stave off the impatient Eislers, who are calling from downstairs, while cajoling Roy to give her money to buy new stockings. Roy declares they must tell the guests what is happening, but Norma wonders if they can sneak away instead. Roy hugs his wife in solidarity, then tries to break the door with an expensive hotel chair. The chair is destroyed but the door, and Mimsey, remain unmoved. As a frustrated Roy climbs out onto the suite's window ledge in order to enter through the bathroom window, Norma rips Roy's coat while trying to hold him back. Kicking pigeons out of his way, he crosses the narrow ledge, reaching the bathroom window as a rainstorm starts. Norma grows hysterical first for Roy's safety and then for the state of her hairpiece, ruined in the rain. Minutes later, Roy enters through the suite's front door, announcing that he was forced to enter a neighboring room after Mimsey refused to let him in the window. Stating that no jury will convict him of murdering his daughter once they see the wedding bills, Roy hatches plans to set fire to the room to smoke Mimsey out, but Norma's pleas convince him to stop, although she breaks her diamond ring in the process. Finally, Roy entreats his daughter kindly, and she passes a note under the door asking Roy to come in. As he enters triumphantly, Norma listens jealously, and soon Roy comes out, revealing that Mimsey is afraid she and Borden will become like their parents. As the couple considers their daughter's view of them, they call up Borden, who enters the bathroom, tells Mimsey to "Cool it" and leaves. Immediately, Mimsey emerges and proceeds to the ceremony. Later, Roy and Norma watch the newlyweds leave the ceremony on a motorcycle. When Norma asks Roy if they will be all right, Roy states that Mimsey was better off in the bathroom.
Gordon B. Clarke
John [a.] Anderson
Norman Guy Harris
Howard W. Koch
Dominic Palmer Jr.
Francis Xavier Schwartz
George C. Stuart
When it came time to adapt Plaza Suite for the film, Simon, naturally, penned his own adaptation. But the big screen called for a change in stars. The movie version of Plaza Suite (1971) did retain Maureen Stapleton, but in just one of the three roles she had played on stage. Meanwhile, Walter Matthau replaced George C. Scott and appeared in all three of the film's vignettes. The first segment, which in the play was titled "A Visitor from Mamaroneck," tells the story of a couple who honeymooned in the suite 24 years earlier. Stapleton appears as the wife in this portion of the film. The second act, "A Visitor from Hollywood," features Matthau as a Hollywood producer who tries to seduce an old acquaintance (played in the film by Barbara Harris). In the third story, "A Visitor from Forest Hills," Matthau and Lee Grant team up to play the parents of a nervous bride who's locked herself in the bathroom.
Another change from stage-to-screen was the director. Though Mike Nichols had directed such movie successes as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967), he was at the time still best known as a stage director (he had previously helmed the Simon Broadway hits The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park). Arthur Hiller, who had previously directed Simon's film The Out-of-Towners (1970), as well as having just finished Love Story (1970), was brought in to direct the Hollywood version of Plaza Suite.
While the play Plaza Suite all took place in Suite #719, Hiller shifted some of the action outdoors, hoping to make the film feel less stage-bound. Some exterior shots were filmed in New York at the Plaza Hotel but the majority of shooting was done on the Paramount Pictures soundstages in Hollywood.
Reviews for Plaza Suite were mixed. And Simon himself was less than complimentary about the film. "I was very unhappy about it. I didn't like the cast. I didn't like the picture," he remarked. "I would only have used Walter in the last sequence and probably Lee Grant," Simon went on to say. "I think Walter Matthau was wrong to play all three parts. That's a trick Peter Sellers can do. I have to accept some of the blame for the film. I kept all the action in one room. It was rather confining. We could have gone into other suites. I didn't think it out, but I learned from that."
Nonetheless, most would agree that less-than-perfect Neil Simon is still better than a lot of stage to screen comedies. And Plaza Suite went on to receive two Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture Musical/Comedy and for Maureen Stapleton as Best Supporting Actress.
One final note of interest about Plaza Suite: Simon had originally intended the play to have four acts. But he cut one of the segments during pre-production. This fourth segment would be turned into the film The Out-of-Towners.
Producer: Howard W. Koch
Director: Arthur Hiller
Screenplay: Neil Simon, based on his play
Cinematography: Jack A. Marta
Production Design: Arthur Lonergan
Music: Maurice Jarre
Film Editing: Frank Bracht
Cast: Walter Matthau (Sam Nash/Jesse Kiplinger/Roy Hubley), Maureen Stapleton (Karen Nash), Barbara Harris (Muriel Tate), Lee Grant (Norma Hubley), Louise Sorel (Miss McCormack).
C-115m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
Roy, just talk nicely and she'll come out.- Norma Hubley
We've had "nice talking," now we're gonna have "door breaking."- Roy Hubley
Shtall em, shtall em. Just keep shtalling em. Whatever you do shtall em!- Roy Hubley
Yes Mrs. Eisler we'll be down in two minutes.- Norma Hubley
Are you crazy?! I told you to shtall em!- Roy Hubley
I did stall them - you've got two minutes.- Norma Hubley [innocently]
Oh my god!- Norma Hubley
What is it?!- Roy Hubley
I ripped my stockings.- Norma Hubley
Is she in there?- Roy Hubley
She's in there, she's in there. Where am I going to get another pair of stockings?- Norma Hubley
Well if she doesn't show up who's gonna look at you?- Roy Hubley
The title credit reads: "Walter Matthau in a Neil Simon play Plaza Suite." Howard Roessel's onscreen crdit reads: "Production manager and assistant director." The end credits feature Matthau and each of his co-stars, in character, bowing to the camera as if on stage, with the actor's and character's name superimposed. Although in the opening credits Maureen Stapleton is listed first and Lee Grant last, they appear in the opposite order in the closing credits. After the closing cast credits, a written statement reads: "The producers wish to thank the Plaza Hotel of New York City and all its personnel for their help in the production of this film."
The popular Neil Simon play on which the film was based, Plaza Suite, opened on Broadway on February 14, 1968, directed by Mike Nichols. The Broadway show starred Stapleton and George C. Scott, who played the main roles in all three segments. Grant, who played "Norma Hubley" in the film, starred in all three female roles in the Los Angeles stage version of the play. In December 1967, before the play opened, Hollywood Reporter reported that Paramount, which had already bought the film rights for $400,000, would co-finance the stage version along with Simon and Nichols. Paramount had previously produced four film adaptations of Simon's works: Come Blow Your Horn (1963), Barefoot in the Park (1967), The Odd Couple (1968) and The Out-of-Towners (1970) ( for all). Modern sources note that The Out-of-Towners was originally planned to form a fourth sketch for the stage version of Plaza Suite, but Simon decided instead to adapt it into a full-length film.
In June 1969, Daily Variety announced that the lead roles would be divided up between six actors, including Matthau, Peter Sellers, Jack Lemmon and Lucille Ball. "Muriel Tate" marked the first film role for Barbara Harris since 1965's A Thousand Clowns (see below). Modern sources state that Matthau requested to play all three male roles, despite Simon's reluctance to have him do so. Matthau had starred in The Odd Couple and went on to work with Simon in the film versions of The Sunshine Boys (1975), California Suite (1978, with a similarly episodic storyline), I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982) and The Odd Couple II (1998).
Thomas Carey, who made his only feature film appearance in Plaza Suite, was the son of character actor Harry Carey, Jr. As noted in contemporary reviews and news items, location scenes were shot in New York City, including some at the Plaza Hotel. Most of the interiors, however, were shot at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, as noted by a December 6, 1970 Los Angeles Times article.
Simon, who wrote the film's screenplay, made few changes from the stage version. Reviews for the film were mixed, with some noting that, despite the addition of the final scene after the Hubley wedding and the shot into Central Park, the film remained stagebound.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971