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Author! Author! (film)

Author! Author! is a 1982 American comedy-drama film directed by Arthur Hiller, written by Israel Horovitz, and starring Al Pacino, Dyan Cannon and Tuesday Weld. The film, which is loosely autobiographical, concerns a Broadway playwright who strives to solve his family and relationship troubles while trying to get a new play into production.

Author! Author!
Author author.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byArthur Hiller
Produced byIrwin Winkler
Written byIsrael Horovitz
Music byDave Grusin
CinematographyVictor J. Kemper
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 18, 1982 (1982-06-18)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$13.1 million (US)[1]


Playwright Ivan Travalian has a new Broadway play (English with Tears) in rehearsal and the backers want rewrites. His wife, Gloria, moves out, leaving him with custody of their five children: four from her previous marriages and his own son. His two stepdaughters and his stepson Spike return to their respective fathers but two of the boys, his biological son Igor and his stepson Geraldo, remain with Ivan.

The producer of the theater production lies to investors, claiming that popular film actress Alice Detroit has already signed on to play the lead in the play. Ivan has no choice but to convince her to perform in the play over a dinner where she confesses that she is a big fan of his and would love to perform in his new play. She spends more and more time with him and then moves in with him and the remaining two children. One night Ivan explains to her that he was an abandoned baby who was adopted by a family with the Armenian name "Travalian". Alice becomes depressed because she misses her former social life so Ivan eventually asks her to move out.

His two stepdaughters run away from their father's home to live with Ivan and the police come to take them back, but Ivan and the children stage a standoff on the roof of their building, eventually convincing the police and their father to let the girls stay. Spike also returns to the house, meaning that all of the children will be living with Ivan again. Ivan decides that his wife should return as well so he takes a taxi to Gloucester, Massachusetts to retrieve her. He finds her painting on a snowy dock with her new boyfriend, where she resists his efforts to force her to return for the good of the children. Recognizing her selfishness, Ivan eventually gives up and tells her to stay in Gloucester. He returns to New York City and promises his stepchildren that they can remain with him. They attend the opening night of the play and film ends with them reading a positive review of the play in The New York Times.


Elliot and Goulding, the longtime comedy duo of "Bob and Ray", were billed together in the opening credits. Reflecting the film's theme of family, director Winkler's wife, actress Margo, and then-teenaged son, future UCLA School of Law professor Adam, along with the film's autobiographical screenwriter Horovitz' children, future film producer Rachel and future television producer Matthew, make brief appearances.


Screenwriter Israel Horovitz first worked with Al Pacino in 1968, when Pacino starred in his play The Indian Wants the Bronx, for which they both received Obie Awards.[2] They remained friends over the years and jumped at the chance to work again on Author! Author! The film was based on Horovitz's own personal experiences as a divorced father responsible for looking after two of his three children. "I felt there was a lot of room to explore the ease with which people get married in this country, the way kids come along in huge bunches and the irresponsibility of parents in taking care of those children."[2] He also talked to his three children for inspiration. He said, "The film had to be written in a comic mode, because otherwise it's too painful to deal with."[3] Horovitz made the protagonist Armenian American to give him a strong ethnic identity parallel to his own Jewish background. Director Arthur Hiller was drawn to the project because it was about an extended family and that it showed "that love is what makes a family strong, not necessarily who's the natural parent."[2]


Dyan Cannon was originally asked to play Gloria, but turned it down because she found the character "bitchy" and had played that kind of role before.[2] She was then asked to play Alice and agreed because she loved the character. Cannon enjoyed making the film and compared the experience to "being on a cruise".[2] Alan King also enjoyed filming, and said that his character was a cross between Hal Prince and Zero Mostel.[2]

Pacino did not get along with Hiller while filming. Pacino said, "sometimes people who are not really meant to be together get together in this business for a short time. It's very unfortunate for all parties concerned."[4] Pacino told that he made the film, because he thought he would enjoy making a film "about a guy with his kids, dealing with New York and show business. I thought it would be fun."[4] Pacino said that he enjoyed working with the actors, who spend time with his children.[4]


In his review for The Globe and Mail, Jay Scott criticized the performances of the child actors: "The brood is composed of the most appalling set of exhibitionistic child actors this side of Eight Is Enough", and felt "that this comedy is not funny is bad enough; that it is resolutely and maliciously anti-female is unforgivable."[5] Newsweek magazine's Jack Kroll wrote, "there's nothing sadder than a movie that tries to be adorable and isn't. Author! Author! tries so hard that the screen seems to sweat."[6] In his review for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold criticized Pacino's performance: "Pacino's maddening articulation would seem to argue against further flings at comedy. Line after line is obscured by his whispery mumble, and this mangled speech seems particularly inappropriate in a character who's supposed to be a playwright."[7] Roger Ebert was also unimpressed, giving the film two stars and prompting him to ask "What's Pacino doing in this mess? What's happening to his career?"[8] The film was nominated for a Razzie Awards for Worst Original Song for "Comin' Home to You".[9][page needed] Critic Leonard Maltin, however, did give the film a warm review, awarding it 3 out of 4 stars, calling it a "slight but winning comedy", and Pacino received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.


  1. ^ "Author! Author!". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2016-05-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bennetts, Leslie (1982-01-24). "Author! Author! Shoots in N.Y., N.Y." The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
  3. ^ Chase, Chris (1982-07-02). "The author of Author! Author!". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  4. ^ a b c Grobe l, Lawrence (2006). Al Pacino. Simon and Schuster. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4169-4879-7.
  5. ^ Scott, Jay (1982-06-19). "Author! Author! Just a Mish-Mash of Mush". The Globe and Mail. The Woodbridge Company. Archived from the original on 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  6. ^ Kroll, Jack (1982-07-05). "Kingdom of Cute". Newsweek. Newsweek LLC.
  7. ^ Arnold, Gary (1982-06-19). "Al Pacino on the Writer's Block". The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC.
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (1 January 1982). "Author! Author!". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
  9. ^ John Wilson (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-446-69334-9.

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