George Kellerman (Jack Lemmon), a successful Dayton, Ohio businessman, is invited by his company to visit their New York City offices and discuss his possible promotion to an executive position there. George and his wife, Gwen (Sandy Dennis), fly to New York with the intention of having dinner there, spending the night in a luxury hotel, and after George's interview the next morning returning to Dayton. In the course of 24 hours, the Kellermans are beset with difficulties.

Their plane is rerouted to Boston when air traffic and fog make landing in New York impossible; and in Boston the Kellermans learn that their luggage has been lost, and moreover, they must take a crowded train to New York. Tired and hungry, George and Gwen reach New York during a downpour and find that the city is in the midst of strikes by garbage collectors and transit workers. They walk the 10 blocks to their hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, only to find that, owing to the Kellermans' lateness, the hotel has canceled their reservation. A friendly stranger offers them accommodations, but he soon reveals himself to be a mugger and takes all their money.

Destitute, they go to the police and are told they will be put up at the armory. While enroute to the armory, the police car is hijacked by robbers, who deposit the Kellermans in Central Park. They spend the night there and are again mugged and George's watch is stolen.

The next morning two athletes mistake George for a rapist and beat him up. Later a mounted policeman chases George, who he thinks is a child molester. George hitches a ride with a passing motorist, whereupon demonstrators assail the car, belonging to a Cuban diplomat. George finally arrives at his interview, looking dirty and disheveled, and though he is offered the position he declines. The couple is soon aboard a plane back to Dayton, only to find when they are airborne that the plane is being hijacked to Cuba.

Oscar
0 Nominations
0 Awards

Golden Globes
2 Nominations
0 Awards
“The Out of Towners”, directed by the brilliant Arthur Hiller, is one of my favorite Neil Simon movies of all time. Originally, Simon planned his tale of the couple's misadventures in New York City to be one of a quartet of vignettes in his Broadway play “Plaza Suite”, (directed one year later as a movie also by Hiller). However, he quickly realized the comic possibilities were numerous enough to warrant a full-length treatment, and the action was more suitable for the screen than the Broadway stage.

Much of the film's humor is derived from the interaction between George, the manic husband desperately collecting the names of everyone he encounters with plans to sue every last one of them, and Gwen, the mousy wife who accepts each new indignation with quiet resignation.

Lemmon and Dennis, both of whom are Oscar-winners, are genuinely perfect in the leads of the All-American family trying to make it in a big city, with one disastrous mishap topping another, from missing trains to losing luggage to broken teeth and even to broken high heels. Jack Lemmon is great in the movie, bringing so much energy and conviction to the screen, but it's Sandy Dennis who really steals the film. Dennis's portrayal of the ever-so supportive wife is outstanding, as she just takes what comes despite her own misery just to keep her husband happy.

The supporting cast is a virtual cavalcade of comic actors, including Anne Meara, Ron Carey and Paul Dooley. They cement an already airtight screenplay.

Although there were no nominations from the Academy that year, Lemmon and Dennis were nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press for the Best Motion Picture Actor and Actress for the year and were awarded the Golden Globe for their unbelievably flawless performance. If you love Neil Simon, you’ll love this movie.

Unfortunately, as Hollywood does, they remade “The Out of Towners” in 1999 with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn portraying Henry and Nancy Clark, also plagued with misfortune in New York City. Marc Lawrence, based upon the screenplay by Neil Simon, wrote the script and Sam Weisman directed. That was Hollywood’s first big mistake; never rewrite a genius. The remake just didn’t have the stuff the original did. What remake ever does? Don’t get me wrong I love Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin. In fact, I loved “Housesitter” when they made that together seven years prior, but they just didn’t have it this time around, missing the energy and fun from the original. But lets face it, following in the footsteps of Lemmon and Dennis can be no easy path.