Plaza Suite

Synopsis: Plaza Suite is a confection of three witty comedic episodes starring one of America’s finest comic actors, Walter Matthau.

The scene is suite 719 of New York City’s Plaza Hotel. In the first vignette, Matthau’s wife (Maureen Stapleton) discovers that he is fooling around with his secretary. In the next story, Matthau portrays a producer who calls an old flame for a rendezvous- but the lady has more on her mind than romance. In the final tale, Matthau and Lee Grant are frustrated parents of a bride-to-be who has locked herself in the bedroom – moments before the wedding! A delightful comedy, Plaza Suite is written in Neil Simon’s sensitive and sophisticated style.

Plaza Suite 7.5

‘Plaza Suite’ is a trilogy of short stories, featuring three couples, and showcasing Walter Matthau as the male lead in all three segments.

The first story is about a couple who meet in the Plaza Suite to celebrate their 24th (or is it 23rd?) anniversary. They bicker and trade barbs and things don’t end up as they would have planned it. It’s funny, but also heartbreaking.

In the second piece, a big shot Hollywood producer comes to town for a meeting, and decides to call up a friend he hasn’t seen in 15 years to seduce her. Starstruck, his friend sways between surrendering to his charms and going back home to her regular life.

In the final story a couple desperately tries to get their daughter out of the Plaza Suite’s bathroom so that she can finally be wed – the ceremony having been on standby for an interminable amount of time. Out of their minds due to the pressures inherent to this “happy event”, and eveyrthing leading to it, they end up doing things they will regret.

I enjoyed the stories in the following order:

Story 1 (sober, bitter, but sharp-tongued)
Story 3 (a little outrageous, but nonetheless human)
Story 2 (a bit too broad and unrealistic for me, despite its short length and simplistic nature)

I enjoyed the couples in the following order:

Couple 1 (Maureen Stapleton mixes self-reflection with neediness and nostalgia while Matthau is the insensitive, indifferent husband)
Couple 3 (Lee Remick is incisive, rock solid and plays off of Matthau splendidly)
Couple 2 (Matthau is unrealistic, cartoonish, and Harris flip flops between mindlessness and nervousness)

It’s all crafted in a play-like structure, including a final curtain call, but it has enough cinematic elements to help it leap off the screen. It’s rather good, and I’ve seen this a few times over the years. Too bad about the second act, though.

One response to “Plaza Suite

  1. Pingback: London Suite | thecriticaleye·

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