AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Heartbreak Kid
Alternate Title: Neil Simon's the Heartbreak Kid
Director: Elaine May (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1972
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 17 Dec 1972; Los Angeles opening: 20 Dec 1972
Production Date:   late Jan--early Apr 1972
Duration (in mins):   104-107
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Cast:   Charles Grodin (Lenny [Cantrow])  
    Cybill Shepherd (Kelly [Corcoran])  
    Jeannie Berlin (Lila [Kolodny])  
    Audra Lindley (Mrs. Corcoran)  
    Eddie Albert (Mr. [Duane] Corcoran)  
    Mitchell Jason (Cousin Ralph)  
    William Prince (Colorado man)  
    Augusta Dabney (Colorado woman)  
    Doris Roberts (Mrs. Cantrow)  
    Marilyn Putnam (Mrs. Kolodny)  
    Jack Hausman (Mr. Kolodny)  
    Erik Lee Preminger (Pecan pie waiter)  
    Art Metrano (Entertainer)  
    Tim Browne (Kelly's boyrfriend)  
    Jean Scoppa (Flower girl)  
    Greg Scherick (Young boy)  

Summary: In New York City, Lenny Cantrow, a self-absorbed sporting goods salesman with a highly inflated opinion of himself, meets gawky Lila Kolodny at a singles bar. When Lenny discovers that the ingenious Lila regards her virginity as a prize to be awarded only to her husband, Lenny proposes. After the couple is married in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, they leave for their honeymoon in Miami Beach driving Lenny’s two-seater sports car. On the way there, Lenny is irritated by his bride’s penchant for singing off-key. On the night they consummate their marriage, Lenny finds his ardor diminished by Lila’s constant need for reassurance of her sexual prowess and her desire for chocolate bars after sex. The next day, as Lila, her mouth smeared with remnants of an egg salad sandwich she is devouring, dreamily counts the next forty or fifty years they will be spending together, Lenny begins to suspect that he has made a major mistake. After checking into their honeymoon hotel in Miami Beach, Lenny becomes impatient with Lila’s attempts to comb her unruly hair and goes to the beach without her. There he meets the gazelle-like, blonde Kelly Corcoran who playfully begins to flirt with him. Lenny’s state of rapture is abruptly shattered by Lila’s grating voice, calling to him to join her. After roasting poolside in the sun all day, Lila develops a painful sunburn. Lenny, disgusted that she is going to “puff up” and ruin their honeymoon, leaves Lila writhing in pain in their hotel room while he goes to the bar for a drink. There he once again meets Kelly, who insouciantly inquires if he will be at the beach the next morning. Returning to his hotel room to find Lila smeared in a white ointment, Lenny insists she stay in the room and out of the sun the next day. Rushing to the beach early the next morning, Lenny frolics in the ocean with Kelly, who is amused when he admits that he is on his honeymoon. After Kelly informs Lenny that the family is moving to another hotel because her wealthy WASP father Duane does not like the “element” at their present hotel, Lenny coerces Kelly into agreeing to have a drink with him at the Corcoran’s new hotel that night. Lying to Lila that he is meeting an old army buddy for a drink and will take her to dinner later, Lenny meets Kelly at the bar and confides that his marriage is over because she is the girl he has been searching for his entire life. Bemused, Kelly informs Lenny that her father detests him, but nevertheless insists that he join the family for dinner. Meanwhile, Lila dresses for dinner, and when Lenny fails to appear, is reduced to eating candy bars and watching television. Over dinner, against her father’s wishes, Kelly invites Lenny to join the family fishing the next day aboard a friend’s yacht. Upon returning home late that evening, Lenny lies to Lila that he missed dinner because he and his army buddy were sideswiped by a truck while driving in his friend’s car, and that he has to appear in court at 7 a.m. the next morning to sign affidavits. After a day at sea with Kelly, Lenny rushes to his hotel room to change his clothes, saying that his friend has been hospitalized and that he feels obligated to visit his family, but that he will return later to take Lila to dinner. Lenny then hurries to meet Corcoran. Proclaiming that he wants to “lay his cards on the table,” Lenny announces that he has fallen in love with Kelly, but there is a slight complication, because he was just married five days ago. Becoming apoplectic, Corcoran declares that he would not grant permission for Lenny to marry Kelly, even if someone “hung him from a tree and put a lit bomb in his mouth.” Refusing to take no for an answer, Lenny declares that he is coming to see the Corcorans in Minnesota as soon as he gets a divorce. Afterward, Lenny takes Lila to an expensive lobster house for dinner, and as she crunches on the lobster shells, Lenny begins to discuss the transitory nature of life. Thinking that Lenny is trying to tell her he is dying, Lila becomes concerned, forcing Lenny to announce loudly that he wants out of their marriage, thus earning the consternation of the restaurant patrons who have overheard their conversation. Sickened, Lila begs to go to the restroom and throw up, but Lenny refuses to let her go and instead blithely suggests that as a consolation, they “have dinner together sometime.” After a hastily expedited divorce, Lenny ventures into the frigid Minnesota winter to find Kelly. He locates her on her college campus, where she is walking with her boyfriend, the captain of every sports team on campus. Kelly rebuffs Lenny, but when he begins to follow her around campus, she tries to appease him by saying that she is flattered that he divorced his wife, but she is now preoccupied with school. When Lenny blusters sarcastically, Kelly becomes intrigued and warns him that her boyfriend will beat him up. Lenny vanquishes the boyfriend by pretending that he is a narcotics agent, sending him and his friends scurrying away. Kelly then invites Lenny to come with her to her family’s summer home in the mountains, and the next night, Lenny seduces her in his motel room. Although Corcoran loathes Lenny, he agrees to meet him for Kelly’s sake. Over dinner at the Corcoran house, as Lenny tries to win the family over by sputtering inanities about the wholesomeness of the vegetables, Corcoran sits in stony silence. Corcoran realizes that he has met his match when he offers Lenny $25,000 to stay away from his daughter and Lenny refuses the offer. Kelly and Lenny are wed in a large, formal Christian wedding, and at the reception, after trying to make small talk to the wealthy, conservative guests, Lenny finds himself relegated to sitting on a couch with two children, who, bored with his conversation, walk away, leaving him alone in the crowd.  

Production Company: Palomar Pictures International, Inc. (Bristol-Myers Company)
Production Text: An Elaine May Film
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Elaine May (Dir)
  Peter Scoppa (1st asst dir)
  Larry Albucher (2d asst dir)
Producer: Edgar J. Scherick (Prod)
  Michael Hausman (Assoc prod)
  Erik Lee Preminger (Assoc prod)
Writer: Neil Simon (Scr)
Photography: Owen Roizman (Dir of photog)
  Enrique Bravo (Cam op)
  Tom Priestley (1st asst cam)
  Henry Harrison (2d asst cam)
  Pasquale Suraci (Boom man)
  Milton Moshlak (Gaffer)
  Michael Mahony (Key grip)
  Stephen Wever (Still photog)
Art Direction: Richard Sylbert (Art dir)
Film Editor: John Carter (Ed)
  Patricia Davidson (Asst film ed)
  Linda Nunn (Apprentice film ed)
Set Decoration: William G. O'Connell (Set dec)
  Tom Wright (Prop master)
Costumes: Anthea Sylbert (Cost)
  Marilyn Putnam (Costumer)
Music: Garry Sherman (Mus comp and cond)
Sound: Chris Newman (Sd mixer)
  John Strauss (Supv sd ed)
  Edward Beyer (Sd ed)
  Richard Cirincione (Sd ed)
  Robert M. Reitano (Sd ed)
  Richard Vorisek (Re-rec)
Make Up: Irving Buchman (Makeup)
  Robert Grimaldi (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Michael Hausman (Prod mgr)
  Nicholas Sgarro (Scr supv)
  Fran Boehm (Prod office coord)
  Pat Churchill (Prod staff)
  Nola Safro (Prod staff)
  John Starke (Prod staff)
  David Streit (Prod staff)
  Maxwell Meltzer (Loc auditor)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "The Theme from the Heartbreak Kid," music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; "Close to You," music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David; "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke," music and lyrics by Bill Backer, Billy Davis, Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, copyright 1971 The Coca Cola Company.
Composer: Burt Bacharach
  Bill Backer
  Cy Coleman
  Roger Cook
  Hal David
  Billy Davis
  Roger Greenaway
  Sheldon Harnick
Source Text: Based on the short story "A Change of Plan" by Bruce Jay Friedman in Esquire (Jan 1966).
Authors: Bruce Jay Friedman

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Palomar Pictures International, Inc. 17/12/1972 dd/mm/yyyy LP43738

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: TVC
  Widescreen/ratio: Panavision
  Lenses/Prints: Print by DeLuxe Color

 
Genre: Romantic comedy
Sub-Genre: with songs
 
Subjects (Major): Cads
  Class distinction
  Fathers and daughters
  Flirts
  Honeymoons
  Jews
  Miami Beach (FL)
 
Subjects (Minor): Antisemitism
  Bumblers
  Candy
  College students
  Divorce
  Minnesota
  New York City
  Seduction
  Sunburn
  Virginity
  Weddings

Note: The film's working title was The Heartless Kid . The film's title card reads: "Neil Simon's The Heartbreak Kid ." A Mar 1977 NYT article noted that "A Change of Plan," Bruce Jay Friedman's short story on which Simon's screenplay was based, was only two pages long. According to Filmfacts , the picture originally concluded with "Kelly" and "Lenny" sailing for Europe on their honeymoon. During the cruise, Lenny discovers that he finds Kelly as objectionable as "Lila," his first wife. This sequence was cut before the print was released. According to an Aug 1971 HR news item, Jerry Orbach had been the "top candidate" for the title role.
       Filmfacts noted that location filming was done in New York City, Miami Beach, FL and Minneapolis, MN. Jeannie Berlin, who played Lila, is the daughter of director Elaine May, and Greg Scherick, who played the "Young boy," is the son of producer Edgar J. Scherick. Although onscreen credits list the boy under the name of Greg Scherick, in studio publicity materials, he is billed as Greg Pecque. "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" was a popular, iconic commercial song heard in the film. Modern sources add Jim Westcott to the cast, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
       For their work in The Heartbreak Kid , Eddie Albert was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Berlin was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Another adaptation of Friedman's story, also entitled The Heartbreak Kid is scheduled for release in Oct 2007. That film, a DreamWorks production for release by Paramount, was directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, and starred Ben Stiller and Michelle Monaghan. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Filmfacts   1972   pp. 505-08.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 1971.   
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jan 1972   p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Apr 1972   p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Dec 1972.   
Los Angeles Times   20 Dec 1972   Section IV, p. 1, 20.
New York Times   18 Dec 1972   p. 56.
New York Times   30 Mar 1977.   
Newsweek   25 Dec 1972.   
Variety   13 Dec 1972   p. 20.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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