Posted by: reederwi | April 27, 2010

Maggie Smith, California Suite (1978)

Neil Simon’s California Suite follows four separate stories of various people who are checking in to a posh Beverly Hills hotel. The four parts consist of: an angry divorced couple who are battling over the custody of their 17 year old daughter; a nebbish husband who finds a hooker in his room (courtesy of his sleazy brother) on the eve of his wife’s arrival for their nephew’s bar mitzvah; a British actress and her gay husband who are in town for her appearance as a Best Actress nominee at the Academy Awards; and two competitive doctors and their wives who manage to find nothing but misery and misfortune while on vacation. Neil Simon, who adapted this screenplay from one of his plays, hits comedic high notes with performances by an all-star cast. The most successful story line belongs to Brits Michael Caine as the closeted husband and his wife, Maggie Smith, winner, (186), as Dianna Barrie, the neurotic, bitchy and hard-drinking actress who is awaiting her fate at the Oscars. Ultimately, Smith’s character loses the Oscar and the verbal battle at the hotel that ensues between she and Michael Caine’s charatcer is comedic genius. Smith’s obsenity-filled, drunk dialing, room service food binge scene alone was enough to snag her the Oscar. Ironically, Maggie Smith won the Academy Award that year for playing a woman who wound up as a loser at the Oscars. At the REAL Oscar ceremonies, Smith was up against fellow Supporting Actress nominees Dyan Cannon in Heaven Can Wait, Penelope Milford in Coming Home, Maureen Stapleton in Interiors and a FIRST TIME Oscar nominee by the name of Meryl Streep in The Deer Hunter.  This was Smith’s fourth Oscar nomination and her second win. She would go on to score two more nominations for her supporting work in future films.


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