"Elaine May directed it.
Neil Simon wrote it.
Bruce Jay Friedman conceived it."
In early Dec 1972, The Heartbreak Kid was first sneak- previewed at New York's Sutton theatre (I attended) and soon opened to unanimous rave reviews. Vincent Canby in the NY Times summing things up: "The Heartbreak Kid is a first-class American comedy, as startling in it's way as was "The Graduate." It's a movie that manages the marvelous and very peculiar trick of blending the mechanisms and the cruelties of Neil Simon's comedy with the sense of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film is an unequivocal hit".
And it was. The Heartbreak Kid would go on to set box office records at the intimate Sutton theatre with continuous lines around the block throughout the month until it opened widely.
"Trailers From Hell", screenwriter Larry Karaszewski on "The Heartbreak Kid":
|Jeannie Berlin as Lila, Charles Grodin as Leonard|
at their wedding
|the 2 page opening spread for "A Change of Plan" in Esquire. Illustration by the great|
cartoonist Stan Mack (click to enlarge)
Read "A Change of Plan" here:
|The original poster for "The Heartbreak Kid",|
actually highlighting the talent behind the film, all but unthinkable today.
"I love Bruce Jay Friedman's writing... what I did-- and I've never done it at any other time-- I wrote it as though I was Bruce Jay Friedman. I didn't write it as Neil Simon. The style of writing is quite different from the style of writing I'd done in other pieces. Friedman has a very oblique and unique sense of humor, and I tried to write it like him."
Many critics, while being somewhat harsh towards Simon's earlier film scripts, cited his screenplay for "The Heartbreak Kid" as finally having an "understanding of character", rather than going for the easy laughs.
Director Peter Bogdanovich on "The Heartbreak Kid:
|an early ad for the hit film|
|Elaine May directing Charles Grodin in Miami Beach|
|Lila and Lenny on their way to Miami Beach, singing|
"I'd like to buy the world a coke"
|Lila loves egg salad|
|"Lenny, I put cream on!"|
|3 days into the honeymoon, Lenny announces the marriage is off. Lila doesn't take it well|
|Grodin as Dr. Hill, 1968|
Grodin was 37, balding and a bit paunchy when he was cast as the twenty-something Leonard Cantrow. He trimmed down, grew long sideburns, was fitted with a bushy dark toupee, and delivered a superb comic performance and, actually achieves something rare in movies: He plays a guy who does something so reprehensible and cringe-inducing and still gets the audience on his side, cheering his eventual triumph. You just had to admire the guys chutzpah. Even so, when at one point in his frustration he announces "And... I'm a SCHMUCK!", audiences inevitably broke out in applause.
|21 year old Cybill Shepherd as Kelly meets 37 year old|
Charles Grodin as Lenny on the beach in Miami
|A second poster for the film|
|Leonard pursues Kelly to her snowy midwest university as her 3 suspicious meathead boyfriends look on. Kelly: "You know, I'm really flattered"|
|opening spread for "The Heartburn Kid" from MAD magazine No. 162|
|Elaine May and Bruce Jay Friedman|
|Neil Simon and Charles Grodin|