Customer Reviews: House Calls
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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on July 9, 2005
This laid back romantic comedy from 1978 is a real treat, particularly because of the performances. Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson were so wonderfully combustible in the movie, they were again paired in 'Hopscotch', though oddly in the second film, they spent little time on screen together. Art Carney is a riot as a bumbling Chief of Staff, and all the supporting performances, from Richard Benjamin to the always delightful Candace Azzara, are equally enjoyable. Howard Zieff has a lackadaisical directing style that perfectly suits the material and actors. He basically gets out of the way and lets everyone shine. If you have not seen this movie, give it a try. (It was so successful it was made into a sitcom the following year, but without Matthau and Jackson, it didn't really go anywhere.)

One odd and rather irritating thing, though: The movie has the obligatory 70's love montage in the middle. In the original film, and in the TV versions and VHS versions, The Beatles `Something in the Way She Moves' was the background music, and it was just wonderful. The film was cut to the music, and it really had an impact on the two leads' relationship. Michael Jackson and Co (unless he has since sold the rights) must not have allowed the music to be used on the DVD, or made a ridiculous demand, for the song is missing. There is just some mediocre filler music behind the montage and it really hurts that section of the film. It's annoying they were not able to put the movie on DVD in its original form.
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on December 19, 2005
In a career that featured a wealth of great comic performances, Walter Matthau gave few that were more delightful and relaxed than this one. In contrast to the wonderfully over-the-top style he displayed while winning an Oscar for "The Fortune Cookie" and being nominated for another in "The Sunshine Boys," Matthau employed a lighter but equally effective comic touch for this 1978 romantic comedy. He plays a widowed doctor who is over his grief and ready to sow some wild oats, only to find that he's fallen for a woman who wants nothing to do with his playboy ways. Glenda Jackson, who later left acting to join the British parliament, is a perfect match for Matthau's game, and the two trade barbs beautifully in a film that plays so leisurely that it's over before you know it. Look for superb supporting performances from Richard Benjamin as well as Art Carney as the dottering and caustic hospital administrator. He hams it up wonderfully in a part far removed from the nice guy he played in "The Honeymooners." This is one of those movies that looks like it was fun to make. It's definitely fun to watch.
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on September 22, 2000
Walter as a frisky widower;Glenda as his soul-mate/ nemisis;Art Carney as a bumbling Medical Director;and Richard Benjamin as the sarcastic in a babushka...all add up to a wonderfully romantic,hysterically funny look at the dating game. There will never be another Walter, so get this one and savor one of his best performances. What a sweet guy he must have been.It just shines through in this role.
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on December 16, 2013
House Calls is good for a few relaxing date night or family night entertainments. In 1978 the bumbling hospital with back stage maneuvering and a new lost patient every day was not a well-used plot. Think Scrubs only 23 years sooner. This is rarely laugh out loud funny but a fair balance between wry humor, light romance and no intellectual challenge.

Given how often people complain that there are no roles for people not "Hollywood Gorgeous" and new love is rarely a plot device for a more mature people , House Calls breaks these rules and proves that the result can be fun to watch. As this suggests this is a cast driven movie and so I give you:

Walter Mathau as Dr. Charles Nichols has the right mix of surgeon's arrogance and a Doctor's sense of duty. Mathau gives us a complex rendition of his usual gruff lovable wrinkled faced dog.

Glenda Jackson is the independent and opinionated Ann Atkson. She is all wiry class and better at sharing the twinkle in her eye than anyone else in the cast.

Back up performances by:
Scene stealing Art Carney as the befuddled and duplicitous Dr. Amos Willoughby

Dumb blonde, arm candy, all grown up and suddenly rich and widowed Candice Azzara as Ellen Grady - this subplot was deftly played out adding much to the fun of this movie

And as a likable best buddy and fellow Doctor, Richard Benjamin as Norman Solomon

Between these skilled performers, a fairly obvious plot and a mostly amusing dialogue, you are encouraged to relax and let it happen. There is no need to make notes or think deeply, just enjoy the craft of acting.
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on October 6, 2009
Excellent and very funny movie. Highly recommended if you loved Walter Mathau like I did. My favorite movie of his was A New Leaf with Elaine May-they were both brilliant in their parts. I got a copy of A New Leaf from an English company that probably pirates them. But this one, along with many others, are wonderful.
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I remember seeing this 1978 comedy at one of the bargain matinees I took in when I was looking for a study break from my college courses. Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson do some effective Tracy-Hepburn-style thrusting-and-parrying in this featherweight romp directed by the reliable Howard Zieff (he did "Private Benjamin") about a newly widowed doctor's aggressive re-entry into the dating game. It all breezes by quickly primarily thanks to the clever script by veteran screenwriter Julius J. Epstein ("Casablanca") along with Alan Mandel, Max Shulman and future director Charles Shyer.

Dr. Charley Nichols has just come back from Hawaii after his wife's death. Upon his return, he becomes aware that he is instant catnip to any and all the single women in LA. He works in a hospital run by an increasingly senile chief-of-staff, Amos Willoughby, whom Charley has to pacify to keep his residency. Enter Ann Atkinson, a transplanted Englishwoman who bakes cheesecakes for a living and has certain concrete opinions about the medical profession, which she expresses freely on a PBS talk show. Of course, Charley is on the show's discussion panel, and sparks, as they say, fly. This leads to the standard complications about how serious Charley is willing to become about Ann. At the same time, the hospital has to deal with a potential wrongful death lawsuit from the widow of a rich baseball team owner who died at the hospital under Willoughby's careless supervision.

It's just refreshing to see such a mature yet bracing love story between two characters inhabited by actors who deliver lines with the scalpel-wielding skill of surgeons. Matthau is his usual 1970's curmudgeonly swinger and quite a sight waddling with his gangly arms held akimbo in his power walk. Away from her heavy, award-winning Elizabethan roles, Jackson is crisply sardonic and charmingly vulnerable as the feisty Ann, who thinks all doctors should aspire to be Albert Schweitzer. Art Carney plays Willoughby with predictable bluster, while Richard Benjamin provides amiable support as Charley's colleague, Dr. Solomon. It's all very compact with a few nice jabs at the greed within the medical profession. There are no extras on the 2005 DVD.
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on July 18, 2015
Very funny flick starring two "pros." Mature romantic comedy. Rubber-faced Matthau is hysterical, as is Art Carny as a doc who has practiced far too long. Glenda Jackson comes across as a remarkably sexy mature woman. Anything more I could say would constitute a spoiler.
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VINE VOICEon August 27, 2014
One of my favorite Matthau movies - particularly the scene in her bedroom where she tells him the score of the ball game, and the ensuing discussion on sex in the movies. It's not as much of a non-sequiter as one might image. He's good. Just love the repartee.
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on August 29, 2014
This is one of those LITTLE MOVIE" "s that the star made. Not his/her most acclaimed, but one that is truly entertaining and indicative of the talent of the performers and directors. Worth the time.v
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on May 22, 2014
I bought this for my sister-in-law. I had never seen it before. I watched it before I gave it to her and loved it. I laughed right out loud and was so glad I was watching on tape so I could stop it and come back when the inevitable interruptions came.
I loved this film.
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