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Max Dugan Returns is a 1983 American comedy-drama film starring Jason Robards as Max Dugan, Marsha Mason as his daughter Nora, Matthew Broderick as Nora’s son Michael, and Donald Sutherland. Both Matthew Broderick and Kiefer Sutherland (cameo) are featuring in their first film appearance. This would be the last Neil Simon film to be directed by Herbert Ross, as well as the last of his films starring Mason (Simon's wife at the time).

Max Dugan Returns
Max dugan.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHerbert Ross
Produced byHerbert Ross
Neil Simon
Written byNeil Simon
Music byDavid Shire
CinematographyDavid M. Walsh
Edited byRichard Marks
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 25, 1983 (1983-03-25)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$17,613,720


Max Dugan (Jason Robards), the long-lost father of Nora McPhee (Marsha Mason), drops in on her as various trials and tribulations have befallen her. With him, he brings some promises and the news of his impending death and also $687,000 he managed to embezzle from a Las Vegas casino which he plans to use to improve the quality of life for his daughter and his grandson, Michael (Matthew Broderick). Meanwhile, police officer Brian Costello (Donald Sutherland) helps Nora after her car is stolen and becomes her boyfriend in the process.


Production notesEdit

Max Dugan Returns marks the first of only three times (as of 2018) that Donald Sutherland and his son Kiefer have appeared together in a dramatic film project, the others being A Time to Kill and Forsaken, in the latter of which they both starred in the leads.

Matthew Broderick was cast in this film and Simon's play Brighton Beach Memoirs simultaneously.

The real-life father of Matthew Broderick (whose birthname is James Joseph Broderick), noted character actor James Broderick, died (November 1, 1982) around the time of the making of this film. Co-star Jason Robards, who knew James and was a friend, helped Matthew through his grief over the loss of his father.

Former professional baseball player Charley Lau appears as himself having been hired by Robards' character Dugan to coach Broderick's Michael to hit better for his high school team. At the time of the movie, Lau was the hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox.

This was the last motion picture that Mason and Simon collaborated on before their divorce.


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4, calling it "watchable and sort of sweet."[1] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also awarded 2.5 stars out of 4 and wrote, "Robards makes the film work despite the cornball patter that Simon forces his characters to speak."[2] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Mr. Simon's original screenplay is fast and buoyant, and Herbert Ross's direction shows off the abundant jokes to their best possible advantage. There are certainly some questionable ingredients to the story, but you're not likely to notice them while the film is under way. You're likely to be laughing."[3] Variety described the film as "a consistently happy comedic fable which should please romanticists drawn again to another teaming of Neil Simon, Marsha Mason and Herbert Ross."[4] David Ansen of Newsweek wrote, "It's a cute fantasy, and the players are certainly appealing. But Simon overplays his hand. Having created living and breathing comic characters, he starts to suffocate them inside an increasingly mechanized plot. The cuteness gets a bit out of hand."[5]


  1. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 28, 1983). "Max Dugan Returns". Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  2. ^ Siskel, Gene (April 1, 1983). "Siskel's Flicks Picks". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 8.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (March 25, 1983). "Film: 'Dugan Returns'". The New York Times. C8.
  4. ^ "Film Reviews: Max Dugan Returns". Variety. March 23, 1983. 18.
  5. ^ Ansen, David (March 28, 1983). "Take the Money and Decorate". Newsweek. 73.

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