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Cactus FlowerCactus Flower on DVD

Goldie Hawn won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her movie debut role of the free spirited bimbo in love with a loveable rogue.

That rogue is Julian Winston (Walter Matthau), an easy going dentist who's also a committed bachelor. He loves Hawn's Toni just as much as she loves him, but manages to avoid the question of marriage by telling her from day One of their relationship that he's married, with children - and she not only believes him but continues the relationship apparently unconcerned about being a home wrecker.

But Toni wants more than just a part time lover and, realizing she can't have Julian full time, she makes a ham-handed attempt at suicide. This "near miss" prompts Julian to do the right thing, and he pledges to get a divorce and marry Toni.

Suddenly, Toni decides that she doesn't want to be a home wrecker and informs Julian that she wants to meet his wife to ensure that she's not only supportive of the divorce, but will be okay on her own with the kids.

Well, since there are no kids and no wife, and since Toni is adamant about meeting them regardless of that fact (which, of course, is unknown to her), Julian is forced to come up with a family quickly. He enlists the aid of his office manager/nurse, Stephanie (Ingrid Bergman, who is terrific) to play the part. She isn't impressed with this turn of events, especially when events unfold that force her to make kissy face with the man she's supposedly leaving Julian for - man (a patient of Julian's) she can't stand.

Meanwhile, Julian finally begins to realize the value of the put-upon Stephanie, further complicating his life.

It all ends happily, but not before you've laughed a lot at the ridiculous situations Matthau gets into and the more ridiculous contortions it takes to get him out of them again. In the end, the main characters all experience personal growth that makes them better people who more clearly understand the consequences of their actions.

Hawn probably deserved her Oscar and it launched a movie career that brought her plenty of kudos and power; Matthau mostly plays his usual curmudgeon, though it's a softer version of the character this time around. But it's Bergman who really shines as the cactus who so beautifully flowers.

The likeable cast of supporting players include Jack Weston as Julian's friend and deadbeat patient, Rick Lenz as the bohemian writer who becomes Toni's savior, and Vito Scotti as an amorous patient with his sights set on the frumpy Stephanie.

The script, based on a hit Broadway play that was in turn based on a French play, is tight and intelligent and witty, and Gene Saks' direction keeps the action moving along briskly.

The DVD is good, too. It's presented in digitally mastered (in HDTV) anamorphic widescreen and Pan&Scan video (on opposite sides of the disc) and though the picture's a mite soft it's still eminently watchable. The audio, Dolby Digital mono, is fine for what it is.

Extras include, well, trailers and that's it.

Cactus Flower, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
104 min. anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible), Pan&Scan, Dolby Digital mono
Starring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn
Produced by M. J. Frankovich
Written by I.A. L. Diamond, Directed by Gene Saks


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Updated May 13, 2006