Cactus Flower (film)

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Cactus Flower
Cactus Flower 1969.jpg
Directed byGene Saks
Produced byM. J. Frankovich
Written byI. A. L. Diamond
Based onCactus Flower
by Abe Burrows
StarringWalter Matthau
Ingrid Bergman
Goldie Hawn
Music byQuincy Jones
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byMaury Winetrobe
Frankovich Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 16, 1969 (1969-12-16) (Premiere)
  • December 16, 1969 (1969-12-16)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million
Box office$25.8 million[1]

Cactus Flower is a 1969 American comedy film directed by Gene Saks and starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and Goldie Hawn, who won an Oscar for her performance.

The screenplay was adapted by I. A. L. Diamond from the 1965 Broadway play of the same name written by Abe Burrows, which in turn was based upon the French play Fleur de cactus by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy [fr]. The film was the ninth highest-grossing film of 1969.


Twenty-one-year-old Toni Simmons attempts to commit suicide by inhaling gas from her stove. Her neighbor, Igor Sullivan, smells the gas and rescues her by using mouth to mouth resuscitation, which evolves into a kiss after Toni regains consciousness.

Toni's suicide attempt came after being stood up by her lover, dentist Julian Winston. Julian had told Toni from the beginning of their relationship that he had a wife and three children. Unknown to Toni, Julian is not married; and Toni hates lying above all other transgressions. Impressed that Toni had been willing to die over him, Julian decides to marry Toni. However, she is concerned for his wife's wellbeing, and insists on meeting her to ensure that she has agreed to divorce him and will be taken care of. Julian asks Stephanie Dickinson, his longtime nurse, to pose as his wife. At first unwilling, she ultimately relents, since she has long been in love with her employer.

When Toni and Dickinson meet, Toni senses Miss Dickinson's feelings for Julian and asks Julian to help Miss Dickinson find another man. Julian lies again, telling her that his wife already has a boyfriend. Toni immediately insists on meeting him, and Julian's friend Harvey is enlisted in the role of Miss Dickinson's boyfriend. After a "coincidental" encounter with Miss Dickinson and Harvey at a club, Harvey is swiftly chased off by Julian after his real girlfriend runs into the foursome and humiliates his supposed girlfriend.

Embracing her newfound confidence, Dickinson finally accepts the overtures of Julian's patient Señor Arturo Sánchez. After attending a ball with him, she invites him to the club from the earlier night, where Toni, Julian, and Igor have also returned. Miss Dickinson and Igor quickly hit it off, to the dismay and jealousy of both Julian and Toni.

After a fight with Julian the following morning, Miss Dickinson quits. She then visits Toni's apartment to come clean to her, telling her that she is actually Julian's nurse, and he has never been married. After she leaves, Julian arrives to tell Toni that his wife refuses to divorce him, but that he and Toni can continue their relationship. Toni is exasperated with his dishonesty, and decides to do a little lying of her own. She leaves him for Igor, but fools Julian into believing that she and Igor have been seeing each other all along.

Julian storms off and encounters Dickinson at the office the next morning. She has returned to pick up the cactus she keeps on her desk, which has flowered, like her. Julian tells her that he and Toni have split up and although he was initially devastated, he realized he was relieved he would not have to marry Toni. Dickinson is overjoyed and embraces him, just as he confesses he has fallen in love with her. They kiss.


  • Walter Matthau as Julian Winston, a dentist
  • Ingrid Bergman as Stephanie Dickinson, Winston's assistant
  • Goldie Hawn as Toni Simmons, Winston's girlfriend
  • Jack Weston as Harvey Greenfield, Winston's patient and friend
  • Rick Lenz as Igor Sullivan, Toni's neighbor, a writer
  • Vito Scotti as Señor Arturo Sánchez, a diplomat and patient of Winston
  • Irene Hervey as Mrs. Durant, a patient of Winston
  • Eve Bruce as Georgia, Harvey Greenfield's date
  • Irwin Charone as Toni's employer, a record store manager
  • Matthew Saks as Mrs. Dickinson's nephew


The film premiered at two locations in New York City, the Paris Theater and Astor Theatre, on Monday, December 15, 1969.[2]


The film was a box office hit, becoming the ninth highest-grossing film of 1969. Howard Thompson of The New York Times stated that "both the expansive scenario of I. A. L. Diamond and the flexible direction of Gene Saks open up and even ventilate the story".[3] Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and declared that "the chemistry works" and "the movie is better than the play".[4] Gene Siskel gave the film two stars out of four, writing, "This is a film in the old style, but not in the good old style. The lines are neither current nor witty."[5] Variety wrote that the names of the stars "should pack some boxoffice punch. The film, however, drags, which is probably the [worst] thing that can be said of a light comedy. It's due to sloppy direction by Gene Saks and the miscasting of Matthau opposite Miss Bergman."[6] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "'Cactus Flower' was a successful Broadway comedy and it translates to the screen quite nicely ... It is a craftily contrived piece of silliness enacted by competent and attractive people: Laugh In's Goldie Hawn, Walter Matthau and Ingrid Bergman in that order of laudability."[7]

In her first major film role, Goldie Hawn, once described by Time as the "dizzy cream puff who is constantly blowing her lines [on Laugh-In]",[8] was praised in that same magazine for being "a natural reactress; her timing is so canny that even her tears run amusingly".[9] Hawn's performance in Cactus Flower won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 88% based on 17 reviews, with an average grade of 7 out of 10.[10]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Goldie Hawn Won
BAFTA Best Leading Actress Goldie Hawn Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Picture - Comedy or Musical Cactus Flower Nominated
Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical Ingrid Bergman Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Goldie Hawn Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium I. A. L. Diamond Nominated


Cactus Flower
Soundtrack album by
GenreFilm score
Bell 1201
ProducerQuincy Jones
Quincy Jones chronology
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Cactus Flower
John and Mary

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones and featured vocalists Sarah Vaughan and Johnny Wesley and the soundtrack album was released on the Bell label in 1969.[11][12] The Vinyl Factory said "The music Jones supplied for this trippy film is Quincy’s nod to psychedelia and sunshine pop – covering the Monkees' 'I’m a Believer', and 'I Wonder What She’s Doin’ Tonight', which was penned by Boyce and Hart, also of Monkees fame. Sarah Vaughan adds some gravity with 'The Time for Love Is Anytime', and there's even a groovy version of 'To Sir, With Love'. A sweet cocktail."[13] The score also contains a second Monkees cover, "She Hangs Out," written by Jeff Barry, another artist who had worked with the Monkees.

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Cynthia Weil and Quincy Jones except where noted

  1. "The Time for Love Is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme)" − 2:48
  2. "To Sir with Love" (Mark London, Don Black) − 3:30
  3. "I Needs to Be Bee'd With" (Quincy Jones, Ernie Shelby) − 2:35
  4. "I'm a Believer" (Neil Diamond) − 3:00
  5. "The Time for Love Is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme)" − 3:25
  6. "The Time for Love Is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme) [Piano Version]" − 3:25
  7. "She Hangs Out (Doin' the Dentist)" (Jeff Barry) − 3:45
  8. "The Spell You Spin" (Quincy Jones, Dave Grusin, Bob Russell) − 3:48
  9. "I Wonder What She's Doin' Tonight" (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart) − 3:00
  10. "The Time for Love Is Anytime ("Cactus Flower" Theme) [Organ Version]" − 3:17



The film has been remade several times. An unauthorized Hindi version titled Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?, starring Salman Khan, Sushmita Sen and Katrina Kaif, was released in 2005. In 2007, it was remade in Kannada as Sathyavan Savithri, starring Ramesh Aravind. An English language remake, Just Go With It, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was released in 2011. An Egyptian version titled Nos Sa'a Gawaz (Half-Hour Marriage), starring Rushdy Abaza, Shadia and Adel Imam, was released in 1969.

Also, the film is recognized by American Film Institute in this list:


  1. ^ "Box Office Information for Cactus Flower". The Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Green, Abel (October 15, 1969). "2 Col Pix and 'Dolly' Spark 5 Benefits; Toots Shor Also On the Celery Circuit". Variety. p. 2.
  3. ^ Thompson, Howard (1969-12-17). "'Cactus Flower' Blooms". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-23.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (1969-12-29). "Cactus Flower". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 30, 1969). "Cactus Flower". Chicago Tribune. p. 3, Section 2.
  6. ^ "Film Reviews: Cactus Flower". Variety. September 3, 1969. p. 19.
  7. ^ Champlin, Charles (December 16, 1969). "'Cactus Flower' Makes Smooth Trip to Screen". Los Angeles Times. p. 1, Part IV.
  8. ^ "Laugh-In Dropouts". Time Magazine. 1969-12-05. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  9. ^ "Late Bloomer". Time Magazine. 1969-12-19. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
  10. ^ "Cactus Flower". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Soundtrack Collector: album entry accessed January 30, 2018
  12. ^ Edwards, D. & Callahan, M. Bell Album Discography, Part 2, accessed January 30, 2018
  13. ^ 10 definitive Quincy Jones soundtracks from the ’60s and ’70s, The Vinyl Factory, accessed January 30, 2018
  14. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-18.

External links[edit]