California [1946]

The West Coast answer to Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, this film (written by Simon and directed by Herbert Ross) has a high Hollywood gloss. Instead of the omnibus form of the film of the New York version, this film (set at the Beverly Hills Hotel) intertwines the stories (à la Grand Hotel) of several different sets of guests, including Alan Alda and Jane Fonda and Walter Matthau and Elaine May, on one particularly eventful weekend. The story that works best involves Maggie Smith and Michael Caine as an Oscar-nominated actress and her straying, gay husband who come to an understanding (Smith won the Oscar for this film). The least effective is a slapsticky battle between well-to-do but competitive doctors played by Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. --Marshall Fine

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