"As an act, nobody could touch him. As a human being, nobody WANTED to touch him!"
Willy Clark, about Al Lewis.
A 1972 play by Neil Simon, The Sunshine Boys
is best remembered for its 1975 film version. The film starred Walter Matthau and George Burns in a Career Reviving
, Academy Award
Al Lewis and Willy Clark were once famous Vaudeville stars, The Sunshine Boys. The two parted ways eleven years earlier on unfriendly terms. Willy's nephew, Ben, is a talent agent who's been trying to find his uncle work. One day, a major network announces a special on the history of comedy. They want the Sunshine Boys to appear, so it's up to Ben to persuade the two to get back together.
This work features examples of:
- Grumpy Old Man: Al and Willy. Willy is especially cantankerous to everyone around him, including Ben.
- Jewish Complaining: Al and Willy partake in much of it.
- Inherently Funny Words: Discussed by Willy:
"Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka-Seltzer is funny. You say 'Alka-Seltzer', you get a laugh... Words with 'k' in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that's a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny. Car keys. Cleveland... Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny. Then, there's chicken. Chicken is funny. Pickle is funny."
- Oh God, with the Verbing!: Al keeps pointing his finger at Willie's chest. This leads to a moment during the rehearsals:
"The finger? Again with the finger?!"
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Both Al and Willy use plenty of Yiddish in their dialogue.