Movie Movie
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStanley Donen
Screenplay byLarry Gelbart
Sheldon Keller
Produced byStanley Donen
StarringGeorge C. Scott
Trish Van Devere
Barbara Harris
Red Buttons
Barry Bostwick
Ann Reinking
Art Carney
Eli Wallach
CinematographyCharles Rosher Jr.
Bruce Surtees
Edited byGeorge Hively
Music byRalph Burns
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 22, 1978 (1978-11-22)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$6 million[2]

Movie Movie is a 1978 American double bill directed by Stanley Donen. It consists of two films: Dynamite Hands, a boxing ring morality play, and Baxter's Beauties of 1933, a musical comedy, both starring the husband-and-wife team of George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere. A fake trailer for a flying-ace movie set in World War I titled Zero Hour (also starring Scott) is shown between the double feature.

Barry Bostwick, Red Buttons, Art Carney and Eli Wallach appear in both segments, with Harry Hamlin, Barbara Harris and Ann Reinking featured in one each. The script was written by Larry Gelbart and Sheldon Keller.


The film is introduced by George "The Burns" Burns,[3][4] who tells viewers that they are about to see an old-style double feature. In the old days, he explains, movies were in black-and-white except sometimes "when they sang it came out in color."

Dynamite Hands

Joey Popchik, a young man from a poor family, dreams of one day becoming a lawyer. His sister is losing her eyesight, so he becomes a boxer to raise the money to have her cured. Along the way, he gets seduced by fame and fortune, and runs afoul of a crooked boxing manager. In the end, his sister is cured, and Joey, so that "poetic justice could be served," races through law school to become the prosecutor who puts the villain behind bars, spouting corny courtroom aphorisms such as "a man can move mountains with his bare heart."

Baxter's Beauties of 1933

Legendary theatrical producer Spats Baxter learns he's dying. To support the daughter he's never known after he's gone, he plans to create one last Broadway smash. Kitty Simpson, a young ingenue with dreams of performing on Broadway, arrives to audition. Baxter's accountant, Dick Cummings, is at heart a genius songwriter. Baxter's star, Isobel Stuart, is a spoiled actress who almost destroys the entire production with her drunkenness and reckless spending of the show's money. In the end, Kitty must go in Isobel's place. Kitty becomes a star, and learns that Baxter is her long-lost father. As the curtain falls, a dying Baxter tells her "One minute you're standing in the wings, the next minute you're wearing 'em."



The film originally was called Double Feature and was based on an idea of Larry Gelbart. He pitched the project in 1975 and was successful at Universal. He says it took him and co-writer Sheldon Keller six weeks to write the film and six months to get paid.[5] In June 1976, Universal announced Gelbart would write, direct, and produce the film.[6]

The studio disliked the script and allowed Gelbart to take it elsewhere. Gelbart showed it to Martin Starger, the American representative of Lew Grade. Both Starger and Grade loved the script; Grade had been a backer of Gelbart's Sly Fox and he agreed to finance Double Feature.[5]

The budget was $6 million. Stanley Donen agreed to direct.[7] Filming started in October 1977.[8]

It was decided to shoot the film using color stock that could be printed in black-and-white to give the filmmakers the option of showing the film in black-and-white or color. The title was changed to Movie Movie because it was felt Double Feature might be confusing. There were plans to include a Flash Gordon-type serial, but this was not filmed.[5]

George C. Scott said "Gelbart is such a good writer and the picture was so much fun I was almost ashamed to take the money."[9]

The film was previewed extensively. As a result of the preview, a newsreel used to open the film was dropped, along with a trailer for a fake movie. A new ending was shot for "Dynamite Hands," which took one day. A prologue was added starring George Burns, in which Burns explained what double features were.[5]


The film premiered at the Sutton Theatre in New York City on November 22, 1978.[1] In the theatrical release, as George Burns leads us to expect in the film's prologue, "Dynamite Hands" and the mock film trailer (for Zero Hour, a flying-ace movie set in World War I) were in black-and-white, and the musical "Baxter's Beauties of 1933" was in color.

Proposed sequel

Lew Grade liked the movie so much that he commissioned a sequel. In October 1978, he said this would be called Movie Movie Two and would be written by Gelbart and Keller and once more directed by Donen.[10] Gelbart wrote a script which is among his papers at UCLA, but it went unproduced.[11]

The movie failed at the box office. Grade blamed poor distribution from Warner Bros. This contributed to Grade deciding to help set up his own distribution company, Associated Film Distribution, with ultimately disastrous financial consequences for him and his company.[12]

Home media

Some home video editions (like the 1980 Magnetic Video Corporation edition) featured the original color version of "Dynamite Hands" that was printed on black-and-white film stock during its theatrical release.

The film was released on Blu-ray by Scorpion Releasing June 28, 2016.[13]

Awards and honors

Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
1978 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 3rd place
Best Music Ralph Burns 3rd place
National Board of Review Top Ten Films Won
New York Film Critics Circle Best Supporting Actor Barry Bostwick 3rd place
Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 2nd place
1979 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Nominated[14]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy George C. Scott Nominated
Best Motion Picture Acting Debut - Male Harry Hamlin Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Stanley Donen Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Barry Bostwick 4th place
Best Screenplay Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller 3rd place
Writers Guild of America Award Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen Larry Gelbart, Sheldon Keller Won[15]
1980 David di Donatello Best Foreign Music Ralph Burns Won

See also


  1. ^ a b Movie Movie at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ A JUNKET, JUNKET TO 'MOVIE, MOVIE' Taylor, Clarke. Los Angeles Times 10 Dec 1978: r65
  3. ^ Time Out
  4. ^ Playbill Viewing: Ann Reinking, Barry Bostwick, Barbara Harris, and More Spoofed 1930s Double Features in Movie Movie|Playbill
  5. ^ a b c d 'Movie Movie' --Why? Why?: 'Movie Movie' --Why? Why?, By LARRY GELBART. New York Times ]19 Nov 1978: D1.
  6. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: 'Far From the Eyes, Near to Heart', Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times 30 June 1976: g10.
  7. ^ FILM CLIPS: Food to the Fore in 'Great Chefs', Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 12 Sep 1977: f12.
  8. ^ FILM CLIPS: Lew Grade's $97 Million Projects, Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 15 Oct 1977: b9.
  9. ^ Scott Still Foxing the Establishment, Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times 18 June 1978: o62
  10. ^ FILM CLIPS: A New Dimension for a Brother Act, Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times 28 Oct 1978: b11.
  11. ^ UCLA Library Special Collections, Larry Gelbart papers
  12. ^ Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 251
  13. ^ DVD Talk
  14. ^ Golden Globes
  15. ^ Sheldon Keller Collection