Cactus Flower (1969)

cactus flower poster 1969 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Clever rom-com

Pretty predictable

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Cactus Flower

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s):  December 16, 1969

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

cactus flower walter matthau goldie hawn

One little lie can’t hurt anything…right? How about 20 or 30?

Toni Simmons (Goldie Hawn) is seeing a married man…or at least she thinks she is.  When her neighbor Igor Sullivan (Rick Lenz) saves Toni from a suicide, her lover Dr. Julian Winston (Walter Matthau) decides to marry her.  Julian has been lying about being married and enlists his nurse Stephanie Dickinson (Ingrid Bergman) to play his wife…but Stephanie has feeling for Dr. Winston as well.

Directed by Gene Saks, Cactus Flower is a comedy based upon the Abe Burrows 1965 play.  The movie did well in theaters and received positive reviews.  The movie received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Hawn).

The rom-com story has been done to death.  It seems like there are always rom-coms popping up and they are rather predictable.  While Cactus Flower is the predictable rom-com it is easy to forget that the stories like Cactus Flower were probably a bit more original when they were originally released.

cactus flower ingrid bergman goldie hawn dance

Ingrid and Goldie get down!

The story of Cactus Flower can be called from the start of the movie.  You know who is going to end up together and you know essentially how it will play out.  The movie could easily be set in the 1940s or the 2000s because the track of the story does have this basic typical path.  What distinguishes Cactus Flower is that it is loaded with snappy dialogue presented by strong actors that raises the movie.

The cast is top notch, but it is also a strange cast.  The movie largely introduces Goldie Hawn who is a “supporting character” despite largely being the heart and the driving force of the film.  The Laugh-In star radiates in the movie and brings a real joy and heart to her character.  Walter Matthau plays the typical Walter Matthau character, but it is Ingrid Bergman who plays out of character and is fun due to her classic dramatic roles.

cactus flower ingrid bergman walter matthau

Jealous yet?

The movie has very limited sets.  There is essentially the club, the dentist office, and the apartment.  The club tries to be very hip and trendy (with popular music playing), but it still is amusing to see what feels like a manufactured coolness.  Movies based on plays often have to make the most from few locations and the film does a decent job.

The movie in general is a film you can tell is a play adaptation.  The clever dialogue and situations have that stage play feel.  As a result, Cactus Flower doesn’t feel very modern despite some modern themes.  The film has been remade a few times including Just Go With It in 2011 starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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