Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn
SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR (1978). Director: Robert Mulligan. Screenplay by Bernard Slade, based on his play.

Doris (Ellen Burstyn) and George (Alan Alda) are dining alone in a restaurant at a country inn, when they decide to have dinner together, leading into a one-night stand. Both of them are happily married with children, but decide to meet again at the same inn the following year. In five year increments, the movie shows them meeting up each year for a romantic weekend, telling each other both good and bad stories about their spouses, and changing with the times and as they grow older, suffering losses but remaining in love. Same Time, Next Year is entertaining but it never quite recovers from its highly contrived and theatrical premise, which probably worked much better on the stage. The performances are okay -- sitcom star Alda [The Mephisto Waltz] seems perfect for what is, in effect, a two hour sitcom, but Burstyn [The Wicker Man] completely lacks a finely-honed comedic gift, tossing off lines that might have been funnier had her timing and delivery been better. One foolish sequence has Doris showing up for one rendezvous when she's eight months pregnant. Some nice moments, but it probably should have been done as a TV special and not a theatrical movie. A basic problem with the whole concept is that it would be hard for two people to grow that close when they only see each other one weekend out of the year. Robert Mulligan also directed To Kill a Mockingbird and many others.

Verdict: Pleasant enough but very small-scale. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Though mild, as you point out, I really do like this movie. Alda (not my favorite actor) and Burstyn (one of my all-time favorites) have great chemistry, and the script is quite witty and sometimes touching. I LOVE the song sung by Johnny Mathis and Jane Olivor - "The last time I felt like this I was falling in love..."
I actually do enjoy Alda's film of The Four Seasons, too, but too much of him tends to grate....
Another bullseye of a critique--I enjoy your blog immensely, and your taste in film!!

William said...

Thank you so much! The feeling is mutual. I've added your blog, Angelman's Place to my blog roll. I very much enjoyed your essays on "The Fan," "Stepford Wives" and others. [I'll have to track down "The Stepford Husbands" one of these days.]

angelman66 said...

Thank you for that, William!