Neil Simon Comedies – The Playwright Collection (DVD)

For fans of the legendary playwright, Mill Creek Entertainment brings together a slew of his more interesting dramas and comedies to DVD all for folks that are interested in expanding the collection. I would have loved to see “Barefoot in the Park” included in this set, but for all things considered this is a nice buffer course for new fans that can study up on the late great Neil Simon, who helped re-define films about couples and relationships for everyone.

Featured within the set is The Cheap Detective from 1978 starring Peter Falk, Ann-Margret, Eileen Brennan, Sid Caesar, to name only a few. This one is an original screenplay from Simon who satirizes film noir with Peter Falk playing a San Francisco detective in the vein of Bogart. Chapter Two from 1979 is the Oscar nominated drama starring James Caan, and Marsha Mason, with aforementioned Caan as an author who falls for a gorgeous woman and begins questioning his marriage when he finds himself in a rut with his wife. Only When I Laugh from 1981 is the Oscar nominated drama starring Marsha Mason, Kristy McNichol, and James Coco. Simon’s then wife Marsha Mason plays an alcoholic actress who’s daughter comes to live with her.

The Slugger’s Wife from 1985 stars Michael O’Keefe, Rebecca De Mornay, and Randy Quaid; it’s an original screenplay from Simon whose romantic comedy centers on a singer played by De Mornay who marries a minor league baseball player. Lost in Yonkers from 1993 stars Richard Dreyfuss, and Mercedes Ruehl, and is based on Simon’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning play. With Tony Award winner Ruehl starring, “Lost in Yonkers” is yet another autobiographical drama from Simon about his childhood focusing on two brothers that go to live with their strict grandmother and spinster aunt. Jake’s Women from 1996 stars Alan Alda, Anne Archer, Lolita Davidovich, and Mira Sorvino, respectively is a pseudo-sequel to “Chapter Two.” Alan Alder reprises his role from the original Broadway play as an author who is forced to re-examine his life with memories of the women he’s met and fallen for.

London Suite from 1996 stars Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Madeline Kahn respectively is the lesser of the films in the set, and focuses on four couples staying in a London hotel. While there, their lives begin to intersect in comedic ways. Not the best movie but it has a nice cast. Finally, there’s The Sunshine Boys, the 1996 television movie adaptation of his classic play starring Woody Allen, Peter Falk, Michael McKean, Liev Schreiber, Edie Falco and Sarah Jessica Parker, respectively. There are no special features included, but all films are uncut and on three separates DVD’s.