Review – Cactus Flower (aka. An open apology to Goldie Hawn)

For years, I have been clear I had never seen a good Goldie Hawn film. Before you say it, no Private Benjamin isn’t a good film. Nor is Overboard, nor is Death Becomes Her. If I’m honest, that view spread a couple of times to ‘Goldie Hawn has never made a good film’.

Give this I was recently surprised to find that Goldie Hawn has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She won this for the 1969 film Cactus Flower. Given my previous statements, I felt honour bound to investigate, and found a copy of the film on DVD.

The film is actually the basis for the 2011 Adam Sandler film Just Go With It, so for those that have seen that, you’ll know the premise.

The film itself is directed by Gene Saks, and is based on a play (of the same name) written by Abe Burrows.

A womanising dentist, Dr Julian Winston, (played by Walther Matthau) is in love with Toni Simmons, a much younger lady (played by Hawn) but to keep things simple and prevent risk of getting ‘too involved’ he told her that he was married when they first met.

Now, wildly in love with Matthau and knowing that their relationship can go nowhere, as the film opens, Hawn is planning her own suicide. Poorly executed, when Matthau finds out, he promises that their love is not in vain, and agrees to marry her.


Only now, he has to explain how he’s going to divorce his fictional wife, and what is worse, Toni wants to meet her to explain the situation and apologise. For this, Winston turns to his dental assistant, Ms Dickinson, played by Ingrid Bergman.

Bergman agrees to step in, and what follows is a humorous love story between Matthau, Hawn, and Bergman who has feelings that have previously well hidden.

The plot of the film is a little predictable (especially for those that have seen Sandler’s remake) but it’s a charming enough film, and Hawn plays her role well.

It hasn’t aged too well, but it was certainly a good film when it came out and is still pretty good. So, Goldie Hawn, I take it back.


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