Monday, September 21, 2015

See You in the "Fall" blogathon: The Sunshine Boys (1975)

Steve Bailey of MovieMovieBlogBlog is hosting the SEE YOU IN THE "FALL" BLOGATHON devoted to bits of physical comedy that have delighted us all through the years.  Click HERE for thrills and laughs.

Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, directed by Herbert Ross, is one of my all-time favourite comedies and there is a silent scene of furniture moving that lasts less than a minute, but tickles my funny bone to the point where an emergency room visit is not out of the question.  There is something about the deadpan, focused attitude of the characters and the amount of time it takes to determine that they are at cross-purposes that I find sublime.  

First, a little set-up.  The old-time comedy team of Al Lewis (George Burns) and Willy Clark (Walter Matthau) aka The Sunshine Boys broke up acrimoniously many years ago, but have agreed to reunite for a television special.  They meet at Willy's apartment.  I'm sure you won't mind the intrusion of some dialogue, since it is from Neil Simon.  Let's listen in ...

Willy:  So, what do you think, you want to do the doctor sketch?

Al:  Well, it's very good money.  It's only a few day's work and I can be back in New Jersey.  If you feel you want to do it then I'm agreeable.

Willy:  They told you how I feel about it?

Al:  What?

Willy:  I'm against it, but if you want, I'll do it.

Al:  What do you mean you're against it?  If you're against it don't do it.

Willy:  Why do you care if I'm against it.  As long as we're doing it, I just want you to know why I'm doing it.

Al:  Well, don't do me any favors.

Willy:  Who's doing you a favor.  I'm doing my nephew a favor.  It will be a big break for the kid to get a couple of big stars like us.

Al:  Well, that's different then.  In that case I'm against it too, but I'll do it.

Willy:  As long as we understand each other.

Al:  I want to be sure you know that I'm not doing it for the money.  The money goes to my grandchildren.

Willy:  The whole thing?

Al:  The whole thing.  But not now.  Only if I die.  If I don't die it will be for my old age.

Willy:  The same with me.

Al:  You haven't got grandchildren.

Willy:  My nephew's children!  Do you want to rehearse the sketch or not?  What?  Why don't we rehearse?

Al:  You're not against rehearsing?

Willy:  I'm against doing the show.  Rehearsing is important.

Al:  Alright, let's rehearse.  Why don't we move the furniture around and make the set?

Willy:  Wait a minute.  What the hell are we doing here?

Al:  I'm fixing up the set.  I don't know what you're doing.

Willy:  You're fixing up the set?  You're fixing up the set for the doctor sketch?

Al:  The doctor sketch?

Old guys!  Ya' gotta love 'em.


  1. Sometimes it's the simplest set-ups that are the funniest! Thanks for contributing this to the blogathon!

    1. My pleasure. I'm really enjoying all of the entries of your inspired blogathon.

  2. Just another reason why I need to see this movie. Thanks for the extra push -- it sounds hilarious. (Then again, it does star Burns and Matthau.)

    1. It is hysterical! And as excellent as Burns and Matthau are, Richard Benjamin is perfection. "The Sunshine Boys" next TCM screening is on October 1st. Enjoy.

    2. Thanks! I'll be sure to record it!

  3. I like Neil Simon, but I've never seen this one, so I'll have to add it to the list. I don't normally think of physical humor when it comes to his work though. Are there more moments like this in the movie?

    1. The setting-up scene is the outstanding physical comedy moment in my memory, although the looks on Matthau's face throughout silently speak volumes!

  4. This sounds awesome. I've had this on my must-watch list for years, but still haven't seen it. You can't go wrong with Neil Simon and this cast!

    1. "The Sunshine Boys" never fails to make me laugh and I'm sure it will be that way for you.

  5. I haven't seen this one either, but this exchange is great - reminds me of the "Whatever it is, I'm against it" number Groucho sings in Horse Feathers. And the furniture scene may be even more hilarious - I love little silent moments of comedy in newer films!
    Thanks for the kind comment!

    1. Ha! I love that song from "Horse Feathers". I hereby claim it as my personal anthem. I think you'll get a kick out of the movie someday.

      PS: I think of it as "newer", as well.

  6. Its hilarious, one of the few Simon movies I can watch over and over. Kudos to Mathau for playing Burn's contemporary even though he was 20 years younger.

    1. Against any sensible thoughts, the casting works perfectly.



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