American director/choreographer Herbert Ross divided his time between Broadway and the American Ballet Theatre in the 1950s and 1960s. Ross also choreographed numerous live television programs, and handled the dance sequences of such films as Carmen Jones (1954), Inside Daisy Clover (1963) and Dr. Doollittle (1967). His first screen directorial job was Goodbye Mr. Chips, an overblown 1969 remake of a well-regarded 1939 MGM feature. Ross’ subsequent cinema reputation rested on his ability to transfer popular stage plays to the screen, as witness The Owl and The Pussycat (1970), The Sunshine Boys (1975) and California Suite (1978). While he was expert in cinematizing the plays of Neil Simon, Ross was critcally lambasted for his conformist approach to Woody Allen’s Play it Again Sam (1972), though this film was one of Allen’s biggest moneymakers. Ross also directed a brace of Neil Simon screenplays, The Goodbye Girl (1977) (which won an Oscar for star Richard Dreyfuss) and Max Dugan Returns… read more
Despite the talent involved, an underwhelming rendition of the Neil Simon play. Once they finally get going, Walter Matthau and George Burns hit a great comic stride. But Herbert Ross' placid direction makes what should be snappy repartee a series of annoying yelling matches. A disappointment.