Owl and the Pussycat, The (1970)

Owl and the Pussycat, The (1970)

“I’m real temperamental, you know?”

An unschooled prostitute (Barbra Streisand) and an uptight aspiring novelist (George Segal) fight and fall in love in New York City.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Allen Garfield Films
  • Barbra Streisand Films
  • George Segal Films
  • Herbert Ross Films
  • Play Adaptation
  • Prostitutes and Gigolos
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Writers

After making her cinematic breakthrough in Herbert Ross’s Funny Girl (1968), Barbra Streisand re-teamed with Ross for her non-singing debut in this adaptation of Bill Manhoff’s 1964 play, originally starring an interracial couple (Alan Alda and Diana Sands). To his credit, screenwriter Buck Henry manages to keep us invested in this most fractious couple, who at first seem like an impossible match:

… but eventually, of course, find their way into each others’ arms. Surprisingly enough, we’re able to believe in their attraction, given that both are aspiring artists with deep insecurities, hoping for a little bit of what the other has to offer: Streisand’s Doris wants to sound (and feel) better educated, while Segal wants to let loose and love a little.

Both lead actors acquit themselves nicely, with Streisand demonstrating impeccable comedic timing, and Segal — who starred in Carl Reiner’s Where’s Poppa? (1970) that same year — once again effectively portraying a befuddled fellow who (at least at first) can’t seem to catch a break.

Note: Watch for 17-year-old Marilyn Chambers in her film debut as the girlfriend of Segal’s understanding friend Barney (Robert Klein):

… and Allen Garfield in a bit role as a clothing store owner trying to woo Streisand into bed:

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Barbra Streisand as Doris
  • George Segal as Felix

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one time look.


3 thoughts on “Owl and the Pussycat, The (1970)

  1. Rewatch 9/27/20. Skip it.

    Lame comedy. All the more disappointing since the screenplay is by Buck Henry and he has done much better. There is the occasional funny bit (i.e., Segal getting behind a fish tank in order to pretend to be all characters in a tv show; the silly dialogue we hear from the screen when Segal goes into a movie theater to see Streisand performing in ‘Cycle Sluts’) but this is one dumb, unfunny flick.

  2. I was surprised to get as caught up in this one as I did, considering how utterly obnoxious both characters are to one another in the opening sequences (and how ridiculous Streisand’s character is about not being able to fall asleep without the T.V. on) — but, I eventually warmed to it, which I attribute largely to Streisand.

  3. I’m very tough on comedy. In a comedy, I don’t care how ridiculous or obnoxious (or anything similar) characters are… as long as they’re funny. I just don’t find these characters funny. I find the humor forced. That loses me as an audience.

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