'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#1
Posted: 9/18/19 at 8:22pm

I watched the 1969 movie "Cactus Flower' today on Amazon, the movie based on the 1965 Broadway play that ran for three years (1965-68  ).The movie was fun, especially with the stellar cast of Matthau, Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman.

I'm wondering if anyone here ever saw the play during it's run from '65-68, with Lauren Bacall , Barry Nelson and Brenda Vaccarro?  Was it as good as the reviews suggest it was from back then? 

Also - why hasn't this show ever been revived?  Seems like an easy production, and with a great director and likeable cast, it could be quite the hit.  Thoughts? 

 

PS - I also read that Lauren Bacall was rather upset she wasn't offered the role of Stephanie in the film (Bergman was cast). Anyone know for sure why they passed on Bacall ? 

Updated On: 9/19/19 at 08:22 PM
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#2
Posted: 9/18/19 at 8:47pm
There was an Off Bwy production of the play starring Maxwell Caulfield a few years ago. It wasn't successful because the director had no idea how to direct comedy.
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#3
Posted: 9/18/19 at 8:48pm

My choice from that period would be Butterflies Are Free. No contrivances or comedic deceptions to speak of as I can best recall from the script.  I think it would play in today's world. Of course the key would be in the casting with a sparkling newcomer needed for Jill (right name?)

Updated On: 9/18/19 at 08:48 PM
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#4
Posted: 9/18/19 at 9:08pm

I think the sexual politics of the play would be quite dated to a modern audience, but with the right production you never know.  Boeing, Boeing sounded like a terrible idea a few years back but people seemed to think it still worked.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#5
Posted: 9/19/19 at 6:55am

David10086 said:

PS - I also read that Lauren Bacall was rather upset she wasn't offered the role of Stephanie in the film (Bergman was cast). Anyone know for sure why they passed on Bacall ?"

Bacall met with producer Mike Frankovich and Columbia Pictures to discuss the film. Frankovich wanted her to assume the role for the screen version but Walter Matthau (replacing Barry Nelson) and director Gene Saks had their doubts and in the end Ingrid Bergman was cast. Bacall was bitterly disappointed. She couldn't understand why they would cast an actress who was 10 years older than she was.

Rick Lenz, who understudied the role of "Igor" in the original Broadway production and was the assistant stage manager for a while early in the show's run repeated his role in the film. After the film was released he ran into Bacall at Bloomingdale's and absentmindedly asked her if she had seen the film. He wrote that she gave him a look that could "melt his skull" and then her voice dropped in it's most disdainful and pained register as she answered, "Nooooooo".

 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#6
Posted: 9/19/19 at 11:03am
Interesting. I wonder why they had doubts about her. It must have made things awkward between her and Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express.
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#7
Posted: 9/19/19 at 11:24am

Only if van Hove sets it inside the cactus..

Agree with Tom5 that a Butterflies revival could work.  I believe the play would still have charm and would love to see it well cast.

Consider how enjoyable it might be with Chalamet, Arianda and McDormand.... maybe live for tv.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#8
Posted: 9/19/19 at 11:27am

Or maybe Billie Piper as Jill!!!!

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#9
Posted: 9/19/19 at 11:29am

Not sure, just throwing this out.  A black Jill might be fascinating as well.  Condola Rashad or Amandla Stenberg

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#10
Posted: 9/19/19 at 1:12pm

CarlosAlberto said: "
Bacall met with producer Mike Frankovich and Columbia Pictures to discuss the film. Frankovich wanted her to assume the role for the screen version but Walter Matthau (replacing Barry Nelson) and director Gene Saks had their doubts and in the end Ingrid Bergman was cast. Bacall was bitterly disappointed. She couldn't understand why they would cast an actress who was 10 years older than she was.

Rick Lenz, who understudied the role of "Igor" in the original Broadway production and was the assistant stage manager for a while early in the show's run repeated his role in the film. After the film was released he ran into Bacall at Bloomingdale's and absentmindedly asked her if she had seen the film. He wrote that she gave him a look that could "melt his skull" and then her voice dropped in it's most disdainful and pained register as she answered, "Nooooooo".


"

Oh wow! Thanks for the information. I love Bergman in the role (she has the right iciness about her) but Bacall would've been wonderful, too.

 

I also think it's time for a revival of  'Butterflies Are Free' - love that movie with Hawn, too. 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#11
Posted: 9/19/19 at 1:22pm

Cactus Flower and Butterflies are Free were both adapted for the screen and produced by Mike Frankovich and released by Columbia Pictures and both starred Goldie Hawn.

After the great success of the screen version of "Cactus", Frankovich snapped up the rights to 3 plays: "Butterflies are Free", "40 Carats" and "There's A Girl in My Soup".

He cast Edward Albert in "40 Carats"

He cast Goldie in "There's A Girl in My Soup"

and then both of them together in "Butterflies are Free".

 

 

 

 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#12
Posted: 9/19/19 at 3:44pm

I don't know "for sure" why casting decisions were made a half-century ago, but I think it's worth mentioning that Ingrid Bergman was always a much bigger film star than Bacall. (This is no criticism of Betty. Obviously, she became a major theater star in middle-age and I always found her electric on stage! She was wonderful on film as well, just not a star on Bergman's level.)

As for CACTUS FLOWER, I can't even remember if I ever saw it. All those alleged comedies from the 1960s run together in my memory. I still don't get the NYC success of that dinner-theater staple, BOEING, BOEING.

Updated On: 9/19/19 at 03:44 PM
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#13
Posted: 9/19/19 at 7:44pm

I saw it at the old Royale Theatre and really enjoyed it.  Bacall was terrific.  I never 'got' Barry Nelson, i.e., what was his appeal, talent, etc.?  I saw him in a bunch of shows and thought he was instantly forgettable in all of them.  Brenda Vaccaro was anything but, and -- as good as Bacall was -- stole the show from under her.

I was pretty young then and the thing I have to admit to remembering most about it was that it was quite lavish for a straight play, with multiple sets (note flats), unlike every other non-musical I had seen up till then.

Re revivability, a very (to me) enjoyable production of Barefoot in the Park failed a decade ago.  Barefoot is probably my favorite Neil Simon work, along with Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lost in Yonkers, both of which are more substantial /ambitious than Barefoot.  IMO it is in a different league from CF and Butterflies.  Unless there is a knock-it-out-of-the-park box office star in one of the leads, I can't see either succeeding if Barefoot did not.  I have to admit to being surprised that Plaza Suite is being revived, but am assuming that that the Brodericks will account for most of the business that it does.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#14
Posted: 9/19/19 at 8:44pm

GavestonPS said: "I still don't get the NYC success of thatdinner-theater staple, BOEING, BOEING."

Two words: Mark Rylance.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#15
Posted: 9/20/19 at 1:40am

After Eight, I'm sure it will kill any credibility I've ever had here  to say that I often agree with with you, but I have to admit:  most of those boulevard comedies from the 1960s just won't work any more.  They are very much of their time and place.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#16
Posted: 9/20/19 at 1:51am

Jarethan said: "I saw it at the old Royale Theatre and really enjoyed it. Bacall was terrific. I never 'got' Barry Nelson, i.e., what was his appeal, talent, etc.? I saw him in a bunch of shows and thoughthe was instantly forgettable in all of them. Brenda Vaccaro was anything but, and -- as good as Bacall was -- stole the show from under her.”

okay...now this I find interesting...Brenda Vaccaro stole the show from under Bacall....

Side note: While Hawn was playing Vaccaro’s Tony nominated role in the film version of CACTUS FLOWER, Vaccaro was in the middle of filming a pivotal role in MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#17
Posted: 9/20/19 at 10:14am

CarlosAlberto said: "Jarethan said: "I saw it at the old Royale Theatre and really enjoyed it. Bacall was terrific. I never 'got' Barry Nelson, i.e., what was his appeal, talent, etc.? I saw him in a bunch of shows and thoughthe was instantly forgettable in all of them. Brenda Vaccaro was anything but, and -- as good as Bacall was -- stole the show from under her.”

okay...now this I find interesting...Brenda Vaccaro stole the show from under Bacall....

Side note: While Hawn was playing Vaccaro’s Tony nominated role in the film version of CACTUS FLOWER, Vaccaro was in the middle of filming a pivotal role in MIDNIGHT COWBOY.
"

Not sure I get your point, but it was clearly a great role as Hawn won an Oscar for it...and stole the movie from Matthau and Bergman, who were both very good.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#18
Posted: 9/20/19 at 12:29pm

I've always tried to imagine how Goldie Hawn's Private Benjamin could be translated into a stage musical. 

 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#19
Posted: 9/20/19 at 11:43pm

Jarethan said: "CarlosAlberto said: "Jarethan said: "I saw it at the old Royale Theatre and really enjoyed it. Bacall was terrific. I never 'got' Barry Nelson, i.e., what was his appeal, talent, etc.? I saw him in a bunch of shows and thoughthe was instantly forgettable in all of them. Brenda Vaccaro was anything but, and -- as good as Bacall was -- stole the show from under her.”

okay...now this I find interesting...Brenda Vaccaro stole the show from under Bacall....

Side note: While Hawn was playing Vaccaro’s Tony nominated role in the film version of CACTUS FLOWER, Vaccaro was in the middle of filming a pivotal role in MIDNIGHT COWBOY.
"

Not sure I get your point, but it was clearly a great role as Hawn won an Oscar for it...and stole the movie from Matthau and Bergman, who were both very good.
"

Just sharing information..,

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#20
Posted: 9/21/19 at 9:00am

WOW - thank you all for the information and memories.  Again, I think CF  could work as an (updated)  revival on B'way with the right cast - and YES, it will need a few star names to pull this off. (For some reason, I'm thinking Harry Connick Jr for the role of 'Julian'  ).  Not sure about the rest of the cast - but this could be fun. Most importantly, I think this could work as a limited engagement for just a few months.

I've read the synopsis of '40 Carats' and 'Girl in My Soup' - I think 'Carats' would work on stage as well in a revival - once again, with some star names attached. 

Edward Albert - I always thought he was one of the sexiest , under-rated actors of that era. 

Updated On: 9/23/19 at 09:00 AM
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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#21
Posted: 9/21/19 at 10:46am

David10086 said: "WOW - thank you all for the information and memories. Again, I think CFcould work as an (updated)revival on B'way with the right cast - and YES, it will need a few star names to pull this off. (For some reason, I'm thinking Harry Connick Jr for the role of 'Julian''Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?. Not sure about the rest of the cast - but this could be fun. Most importantly, I think this could work as a limited engagement for just a few months.

I've read the synopsis of '40 Carats' and 'Girl in My Soup' - I think 'Carats' would work on stage as well in a revival - once again, with some star names attached.

Edward Albert - I always thought he was one of the sexiest , under-rated actors of that era.
"

 

I saw 40 Carats originally and enjoyed  it, although it was really just an extended sitcom episode.  Julie Harris won a Tony because it was a really lousy year (decade?) for lead female performances in a play.  Stunt casting allowed it to run longer than it should have (Zsa Zsa Gabor and, I  think, Lana Turner).  Maybe summer stock, but not on Broadway unless limited run with a major movie star, who would want to take the time to appear on Broadway in such a forgettable work.  I also question whether time has served it well.

Re Girl in Soup, I saw it is Boston my freshman year of college.  It was totally boring and I remember that the audience did not laugh at all.  It was expected to be a big hit -- it ran for 6 years in London -- but limped along for 8 - 9 months, doable back then: one set, three actors, no Netflix.  I can't imagine in my wildest imagination that anyone would ever want to revive it.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#22
Posted: 9/21/19 at 1:13pm

CarlosAlberto said: "David10086 said:

PS - I also read that Lauren Bacall was rather upset she wasn't offered the role of Stephanie in the film (Bergman was cast). Anyone know for sure why they passed on Bacall ?"

Bacall met with producer Mike Frankovich and Columbia Pictures to discuss the film. Frankovich wanted her to assume the role for the screen version but Walter Matthau (replacing Barry Nelson) and director Gene Saks had their doubts and in the end Ingrid Bergman was cast. Bacall was bitterly disappointed. She couldn't understand why they would cast an actress who was 10 years older than she was.

Rick Lenz, who understudied the role of "Igor" in the original Broadway production and was the assistant stage manager for a while early in the show's run repeated his role in the film. After the film was released he ran into Bacall at Bloomingdale's and absentmindedly asked her if she had seen the film. He wrote that she gave him a look that could "melt his skull" and then her voice dropped in it's most disdainful and pained register as she answered, "Nooooooo".


Keep in mind that in 1969, Matthau was a tremendously popular star who would certainly have had some say as to who his leading lady would be.

Received first billing over Bergman.

 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#23
Posted: 9/21/19 at 1:41pm

markypoo said: "Keep in mind that in 1969, Matthau was a tremendously popular star who would certainly have had some say as to who his leading lady would be.

Received first billing over Bergman.


"

Could be why Streisand didn't have a chance in this film - the fights Matthau and Streisand had on the set of 'Hello Dolly' are legendary. 

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#24
Posted: 9/22/19 at 12:36am

David10086 said: "markypoo said: "Keep in mind that in 1969, Matthau was a tremendously popular star who would certainly have had some say as to who his leading lady would be.

Received first billing over Bergman.


"

Could be why Streisand didn't have a chance in this film - the fights Matthau and Streisand had on the set of 'Hello Dolly' are legendary.
"

Was she ever considered.  I have always enjoyed Streisand most in comedies, but think she would have been awful in this.  She was much too young for the role, which was supposed to be a middle-aged frump blossoming.  I know folks will say that Dolly was supposed to be middle-aged, but the movie clearly ignored that, if it was in the original Thornton Wilder script.  While it may have had more pathos with a middle-aged woman, Streisand was IMO terrific in the role, emphasizing the comedy every chance she got.

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'Cactus Flower' - time for a revival ?#25
Posted: 9/22/19 at 7:22pm

Jarethan said: "

Was she ever considered. I have always enjoyed Streisand most in comedies, but think she would have been awful in this. She was much too young for the role, which was supposed to be a middle-aged frump blossoming. I know folks will say that Dolly was supposed to be middle-aged, but the movie clearly ignored that, if it was in the original Thornton Wilder script. While it may have had more pathos with a middle-aged woman, Streisand was IMO terrific in the role, emphasizing the comedy every chance she got."

 

I mentioned earlier in my original post I thought Streisand would have been better than Hawn in the role of 'Toni', opposite Bergman and Matthau. I don't know if she was ever considered for this, but it seemed like the perfect vehicle for her at that time - she would do 'Owl and the Pussycat' a year later; similar adult B'way comedy from the same era.