Minnie and Moskowitz (1971)


(director/writer: John Cassavetes; cinematographers: Arthur J. Ornitz/Alric Edens/Michael Margulies; editor: Fred Knudson; music: Bob Harwood; cast: Holly Near (Irish woman in bar), Lady Rowlands (Georgia Moore), Elizabeth Deering (Girl in bed with Moskowitz), Katherine Cassavetes (Sheba Moskowitz), Timothy Carey (Morgan Morgan), Elsie Ames (Florence), Val Avery (Zelmo Swift), Seymour Cassel (Seymour Moskowitz), Gena Rowlands (Minnie Moore), John Cassavetes (Jim, Husband), Eleanor Zee (Mrs. Grass), Judith Roberts (Wife), David Rowlands (Minister), Jack Danskin (Dick Henderson); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Al Rubin; Universal; 1971)
“Zany character portrayal of two lonely thirtysomething misfits who are opposites but nevertheless find romance together despite many obstacles in their path.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Cassavetes(“Too Late Blues”/”Shadows”/”Faces”) is the writer-director of this zany character portrayal of two lonely thirtysomething misfits who are opposites but nevertheless find romance together despite many obstacles in their path.

Seymour Moskowitz (Seymour Cassel) is a lowly parking lot attendant, who dresses like a hippie, sports a walrus mustache and a ponytail. The loner has trouble picking up women in single bars and in disgust decides to leave NYC. He asks his opinionated mom Sheba (Katherine Cassavetes) for money to fly to Los Angeles. Meanwhile the educated and attractive Minnie Moore (Gena Rowlands), a divorcee, has a prestigious job as curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. But Minnie has no luck with men and gripes to her elderly workplace colleague Florence (Elsie Ames) that movies set you up for failure by leading you on to believe there’s a Humphrey Bogart out there to sweep you off your feet, even if that’s not so. Things turn dreary after Minnie’s jealous married lover (John Cassavetes) beats her up for coming home drunk one evening. That’s followed by a blind date from hell, with the obnoxious and ugly loser rich businessman Zelmo (Val Avery). He becomes abusive in a restaurant when Minnie rejects his crude way of talking and in a rage he leaves her stranded in the parking lot. To her rescue comes the smitten car attendant Seymour, who gets into a fist-fight with Zelmo and takes Minnie to lunch at Pink’s Hot Dogs stand and then gives her a forced lift, against her will, to her workplace in his beat-up truck. Though Minnie and Seymour have a volatile relationship and it seems unlikely, they decide after a four-day courtship to tie the knot. Minnie realizes she’ll never meet her dream man and when the boorish Seymour cuts his mustache, she realizes he loves her so much he would do anything for her and that proves enough of a reason to marry.

The story is problematical and hardly believable, but the performances are so wonderful that you might say what the hell–sometimes love is so strange that what seems improbable might work. In any case, Cassavetes makes sure that this pic is not mistaken for a Hollywood romcom and its silly idealized notions of love are eschewed (that is until the sentimental happy marriage tacked on as an ending).