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Neil Simon's California Suite (1978)

Jane Fonda , Alan Alda , Herbert Ross  |  PG |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Walter Matthau
  • Directors: Herbert Ross
  • Writers: Neil Simon
  • Producers: Ray Stark, Ronald L. Schwary
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Cantonese, Chinese, English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 2, 2002
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RYKZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,070 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Neil Simon's California Suite" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

CALIFORNIA SUITE is the story of five couples who have come to the Beverly Hills Hotel for diverse reasons and who must all confront some rather amusing personal dilemmas. Sidney Cochran (Michael Caine) becomes the victim of wife Diana's (Maggie Smith) outrage when she misses winning an Oscar(r). (Smith won a real Oscar(r) for Best Supporting Actress in this role). Marvin Michaels (Walter Matthau) must somehow explain to his wife (Elaine May) how a sexy blonde got in his bed. Wisecracking Hannah Warren (Jane Fonda) is uneasy about her ex-husband's (Alan Alda) new California lifestyle. And Dr. Chauncey Gump (Richard Pryor) must contend with his friend's (Bill Cosby) increasingly imposing manner.Great fun!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best adaptations of a Neil Simon play. December 5, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Clever direction means that this doesn't seem too play-like and the hotel rooms never seem claustrophobic. A very strong cast is assembled here, with Caine cast against type as a closet case preparing to receive an Oscar with his bitter and scathing wife Maggie Smith. Alan Alda turns in a moving performance as Billy, and Pryor and Cosby, both usually associated with other actors, show us what a good double-act they could have been. It seems to be four plays in one, with the tone of the comedy varying from piece to piece. Alda's section is touching comedy, Walter Matthau's is farce, Caine's is wry observation while Cosby's is farce again. The brevity of the individual pieces means that the film moves along at a cracking pace, leaving you wanting more. If you do want more, I suggest Neil Simon's Plaza Suite.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is a hot mess, for sure... May 29, 2012
The biggest problem that I had with this film is that it never felt like a film. It always felt like a stage play, and because of that it was stagey and awkward and never more than a little stiff in nature. The intersecting stories never truly intersected and so they felt too singular. The dialog in some parts (especially in the storyline involving Alan Alda and Jane Fonda) was excruciatingly wordy and unnatural and, well, play-like which works on the stage but feels awkward on the big screen, where things are supposed to be more naturalistic in nature.

The acting though, is quite good on many fronts. It is no shock that Maggie Smith won the Oscar for her staggering portrayal of an Oscar nominated actress hoping to actually win the gold man while battling her inner turmoil over her gay husband, played beautifully by Michael Caine (one of the most interesting actors of his generation). I also thought that Jane Fonda was very good and she juggled her wordy dialog rather well, even if I found a lot of what came out of her mouth to be ridiculous. There were some sore spots though. Alda is always preachy and off-putting to me. I really wanted to enjoy Cosby and Pryor, but their whole segment was one preposterous slapstick moment after another, and they sold NONE of it. It was just a lot of falling and yelling and acting angry and none of it felt remotely genuine and it didn't even feel campy, it just felt dumb. Matthau's scenes were also blandly put together, although I found Elaine May's portrayal of his stunned wife to be rather spot on.

At the end of the day, `California Suite' is just messy. It is inconsistent and fragmented and never quite rises above its own detractors.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
There is a certain amount of contrivance and staginess to be expected in many Neil Simon film adaptations. I mention this only for viewers who may not be familiar with Simon as a playwright/screenwriter whose most successful days included "The Odd Couple" and "The Goodbye Girl." Working almost exclusively in theater and TV for the past 20 years, it seems as if he retreated from film after dabbling in original screenplays for such dubious films as "The Slugger's Wife" and "The Marrying Man." Well for good or bad, "California Suite" is pure Simon circa 1978--a West Coast riff and companion piece to his successful "Plaza Suite." If you are a Simon fan, this is undoubtedly a must-have film for a variety of reasons. If, however, you have no idea who Simon is--there is still much to recommend "California Suite."

Structured as four overlapping stories set in one Los Angeles hotel, Simon has assembled a pretty impressive array of talent. Jane Fonda and Alan Alda play a divorced couple engaged in verbal warfare over the welfare of her daughter. Fonda, anyway, is especially brutal and annoyed that Alda has assumed a laid back California persona. Walter Matthau displays his comedy chops trying to remove a prostitute from his room. Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor face off in grand slapstick fashion when only one vacancy is available. And Maggie Smith and Michael Caine are on hand from England to attend the Oscars. Smith's character has been nominated and in an amusing bit of real life, Smith won Best supporting Actress for this role! Told you it was a good cast!

"California Suite," undoubtedly, is in the middle range of Simon's oeuvre. He did get a screenplay nomination in addition to Smith's statuette. It's hard to deny the appeal of seeing this big name cast let loose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Is The Original "Why Did I Get Married" January 6, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Neil Simon assembled a great cast over some complicated stories to bring this movie to life. It is sincere, hilarious, touching and timeless. I think this is also the only movie that Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor appear in together. It crosses the lines of sex and race and is truly an American masterpiece.
Great for date-night, or a rainy day.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NEIL SIMON COMEDY November 27, 2008
Neil Simon's California Suite
NOTE: Maggie Smith's Award made her the third actress to win in both the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. She had previously won as Best Actress for THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE in 1969. See also HELEN HAYES and INGRID BERGMAN (Gaslight, Anastasia, Murder on the Orient Express).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I purchased 'California Suite' for the Jane Fonda and Alan Alda segment of this film. A divorced couple meeting in L.A. Read more
Published 8 days ago by daniel r. esian
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 1 month ago by valariel.reid-turbat
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Great cast, but movie wasn't worth the money.
Published 1 month ago by Diane Thorp
4.0 out of 5 stars Just ordered, will receive this on Wednesday, Apr 30th.
I ordered this DVD to give to a friend. We will watch it together.Once we watch it I will give you a review of the movie.
Published 4 months ago by Joan N. Cameron
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much slap stick and pratt falls
Being a big fan of Niel Simon and of every star in this movie, I was disappointed not only that there was so much physical humor but also that it was inflicted on the fine black... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Robert Orr Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Kisses to Neil Simon!!!
When brilliant actors and actresses stretch their limits and do flicks like this---you love it all the more---and when it's directed by a genius like Neil Simon, you know the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nannette LaRee Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
I choose because this movie has Elaine May. You cannot top her. Walter M. is great, but you can't get much funnier and better than
Elaine May. Read more
Published 6 months ago by M. Susan Riley
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay. We didn't laugh. More enjoyable when a teenager.
It's Okay. We didn't laugh. More enjoyable when a teenager during the heyday of this film. It didn't do anything for either one of us now. Read more
Published 10 months ago by UniversityDoc
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun movie of the 70's
Fun movie of several different couples put in difficult comic (and one serious) situation. This movie takes place in California in the late 70's. Read more
Published 11 months ago by stcroix
4.0 out of 5 stars "I look like I was hit by a fully-loaded, guided tour bus".
The quote just attached itself into my brain.

The movie was okay. The only reason why I gave it 4 stars was because of Maggie Smith, Michael Caine and Walter Matthau. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Norazwa Ahmad Murad
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