COTE DE TEXAS: Guilty Pleasure #1: Goodbye Columbus

Guilty Pleasure #1: Goodbye Columbus




In the spring of 1969, when I was 14, my entire family – including aunts, uncles and cousins - descended in masse on the downtown movie theatre to see the just released movie, Goodbye Columbus, based on Philip Roth’s first novella.  Filmed mainly in Westchester County, New York – the movie tells the story of a spoiled, Jewish princess, Brenda, and her summer romance with Neil, the  poor, unambitious librarian from the Bronx.   I suppose the movie was a family event because it was about a contemporary Jewish family – which very few movies were.  Probably every Jewish family saw this film in 1969 – news of it quickly spread in our community.  I remember the older members of my family being very disappointed by the brief nudity and the wedding scene which is a basically a caricature of a vulgar, over-the-top extravaganza.    And my mother was especially turned off by the way Brenda’s father lectured her:  “You have given me a lot of nachas, a lot of joy.  For a million dollars, nobody could buy that joy.  So, when you go back to school and you’re shivering, go to the store and buy yourself a nice leather coat with a fur collar.”  Mom felt that he should have said “Pick up the telephone and call me” rather than use money to buy her love.    This was exactly 40 years ago – and I remember this conversation with my mother like it was yesterday.



The Westchester County Jewish Country Club


Truth be told, unlike the older relatives, I adored the movie – and so did all of my friends.  I didn’t mind the brief nudity or the scandalous story line of premarital  sex.   Instead,  I liked to imagine that maybe one morning I would wake up and be living Brenda’s privileged life.   Brenda, played by Ali McGraw in her first movie role, was gorgeous – tall, tan, and thin.  Her wardrobe was designed by The Villager, which was our Anthropologie.   The musical score was by The Association and all of us had the sound tract, which we played over and over, especially the song “Groovy Just Being Together.” Hey, this WAS the 60’s!!!!   My friends and I went back to see the movie a few more times, without our parents,  and secretly I think we all wished we were Brenda Patimkin, the athletic,  wealthy and slightly rebellious Radcliffe girl.   Although, to be sure,  none of us ever wanted Richard Benjamin - who played Neil Klugman - as a boyfriend!  We all thought Benjamin, also starring in his first starring role, was not cute enough to ever land someone as adorable as Ali McGraw!  And to this day, I still think he was terribly miscast in the role.



The beautiful Ali McGraw in her debut movie performance.  Playing a freshman at Radcliffe, she was actually 30 years old at the time.


But, of course, as usual I had another reason than my friends why I loved the movie – the Patimkins lived in a beautiful, old, three story Colonial Revival house in Westchester County.  It was traditional, classic, and totally WASPy, not at all like the Mid Century Modern type houses that most of us lived in at that time.   No – this was the type of house that the gentiles in River Oaks lived in – not Jewish people from Meyerland!!  The fantasy of living in the multi-storied house probably intrigued me more than the movie.   The house was actually four stories – it had a basement that was fully furnished for pool-table games and shindigs.   Houston doesn’t have basements, so the Patimkin’s rec room seemed very mysterious and alluring.   The house loomed over the movie like a character.   The scenes around the dinner table were lengthy and legendary.  The entrance hall, with its gorgeous Georgian stairway, was the setting for much important dialogue.  The lush, green grounds of the property were as grand as the interiors.  And of course, Brenda’s bedroom – which the house guest, boyfriend Neil Klugman, would sneak into every night – was a teenaged girl’s dream.  



Brenda’s clothes came from The Villager.  At the time, his outfit was a favorite of mine – midriff baring,  red and white striped t and white jeans.  


I hadn’t seen Goodbye Columbus  in years and years and years and one night it came to me that my teenage daughter might love it as much as I had – so we rented it.    She watched about 30 minutes of it  and then left to go get on her computer.   I can’t say I blamed her -  it doesn’t hold up well with time – the endless montage sequences, slow motion and out of focus,  is the dated cinematography style of the 60s and 70s.  And, the then shocking nudity is banal – more skin is seen on primetime television today.  The love story too, once so taboo – a college girl having premarital sex with her boyfriend – is today considered almost commonplace.    And although Ali McGraw still looks beautiful and is adorably dressed, forty years later, Richard Benjamin is even less attractive or desirable as the lover.




A lot of the movie action centered around the country club – with endless montages of soft-focused underwater swimming.


Amazingly though, the Patimkin’s grand house, lived up to my memories.  It is still the classic, WASPy mansion that I once dreamed about.    In fact, with a few cosmetic and surface changes, I would still be very happy living there today, albiet, with my own teenaged Brenda  (as long as she wasn’t sneaking a boy - especially one as ugly as Neil ! -  into her bedroom at night.)  This is one major change that 40 years has brought – I am no longer the rebellious teenager who related to Brenda, but instead, now I am the mother worrying about her daughter’s boyfriend, just like Brenda Patimkin’s mother did.   


Below, enjoy a few pictures from the Patimkin’s Westchester house:



The large, white, Colonial Revival house, with its bright red shutters, starred in the movie.   The wide center hall bisects the house – the dining room is on the left side, facing the back yard.   On the far left, in what looks like an addition, is the kitchen which is not seen in the movie.   On the extreme right is the covered porch, where an important scene was filmed.  Neil Klugman drives the blue convertible.    The house is actually four stories counting the attic and the finished basement. 



Close up of the red front door with it’s brass knocker and lanterns.   If you look closely, you can see the Mezuzah, the religious symbol that all Jews put on their doorpost – as commanded by God.



The very first glimpse into the house – the center hall features prominently in the movie.   The wallpaper is Near Eastern influenced and runs up through the second story landing and hall.  The room open on the left is the dining room.  A large brass lantern hangs in the stairway, while a crystal chandelier hangs above the front door. 



The Oriental-inspired, over-sized, dining room is where two major scenes were filmed.  The walls are painted gray, with red chinoiserie wallpaper inset within the molding.  The curtains are sheers with fabric swags.  The same fabric covers the chairs which are Chippendale styled and painted chartreuse.   A large crystal chandelier is hanging here and crystal sconces are placed around room. 



Mrs. Klugman, a nouveau riche snob, is not too thrilled with Brenda’s new beau – a public library worker who lives in the Bronx.  The movie’s theme deals with the struggle between the two classes of Jews.   As for the house:    Here you can see the large Chippendale cabinet, filled with oriental celadon and Rose Medallion porcelains. 



On the left is a rather tacky red chinoiserie chest with gilding.  A large seltzer water bottle is set on the table.  I grew up with such a seltzer water bottle – which was always  placed on the  dinner  table, just like this!



Behind Neil and Brenda is a large, carved Oriental screen that hides the door to the kitchen. 



During dinner, Brenda scandalously puts her hand on Neil’s thigh, causing him to totally lose his composure!  It seems so mild by today’s standards.



Brenda’s older brother and younger sister.  Here you can see the red chinoiserie wallpaper more clearly.  Why there are pink roses in this room is a mystery.



With the family mostly gone from the dinner table, you can see the ornateness of the dining room more clearly – the oriental rug ties all the colors together, the marble fireplace with it’s folding, brass peacock screen (remember those!!??), the large crystal chandelier and sconces.  And lastly – there is a window AC unit behind Neil.   This fancy dining room is starkly contrasted with Neil’s own dining room in the Bronx apartment he shares with his aunt and uncle.



The homey Bronx dining room where Neil is more accustomed to eating – not quite as fancy!  Love his Aunt’s apron – my own aunt used have aprons just like this.



The beautiful side yard of the Patimkin’s property.   Here you can see the side covered porch that leads off the living room.



The covered porch with it’s assortment of white iron furniture, covered in pink fabric – why pink, when red is the accent color?  Mrs. Patimkin is trying very hard to be cordial to the new boyfriend from the Bronx – the very same neighborhood the Patimkin's escaped from as soon as they had accumulated enough wealth.



The expansive front yard with its circular drive.    A large round fountain sits right in the middle of all the cars.



The front hall with its Near Eastern inspired gold and lavender colored shiny wallpaper.  The door with its fan and side lights is classically styled, as is the flooring  of white marble with black marble insets.  The furniture, though, is faux antique – heavily gilded – exactly the type of furniture one  would buy to impress.  A crystal chandelier and sconces further dress up the entry hall.  At the base of the stairway, a tall marble pedestal holds a bronze statue lighting fixture.




The staircase is carpeted in green!  uggh!  Wood treads with a runner would be so much more attractive, but remember the 60s and 70s were the height of wall to wall carpeting.  At the top of the landing is a beautiful arched window flanked by gilded mirrors.  The large, brass lantern hangs down the three floors.



The master bedroom is shown in several humorous scenes.  The room is wallpapered in a floral pattern above the chair rail.  Also in the room is a fancy white and gilded fireplace with crystal sconces and mirror.   Bronze statues on gilded sconces flank the fireplace.



Oy!  The headboard is a Venetian disaster!  I love how  Mrs. Pitimkin with curlers in her hair is smoking in bed.  Hair nets and smoking in bed are really things of the past.    The purple and white sheets are covered with a green velour blanket – remember velour blankets?!?



This second night – this time the blanket and sheets are blue.   The cigarette and rollers are missing tonight.  But what is with that childish pink bow?



The basement “rec”room.   Knotty pine paneling, wagon wheel built- in decor, ping-pong table, leopard print, and black and white checkerboard floor.  The bar is incredibly stocked with every liquor imaginable.



The overflowing, “extra” refrigerator – the excess was impossible for Neil to resist.  Notice the old design on the can of Coke and the Diet Rite Cola.  When the refrigerator opened to all that fruit – the audience gasped.



The second floor landing – off the bedroom hall  You can really see the thickness of the beautiful wood banister here.  The stairs on the right lead up the third floor.  Three floors really impressed me as a young girl – I had only ever lived in a one story house.   Notice the pretty black tole sconce on the wall.  Also, all the plugs in the house are covered with brass switch plates. 



A close up of the beautiful stair railing with its three styles of carved spindles.  The gold phone is priceless!



Notice above Neil’s head, you can see the third floor steps – each tread is individually carved.  This stair hall is really a beautiful one with all the richness of the details:    the landings, the arched window, the turned spindles, the carved handrail.  Just the grand size of the stair hall is notable, and rarely seen in most homes, even large ones.



Brenda and Neil saw two movies that summer – here Rosemary’s Baby.



And next, The Odd Couple.  Ironically, soon after Jack Klugman who plays Mr. Patimkin would star in the TV series of The Odd Couple.




The third floor, or the attic, was filled with furniture from “when we were poor” Brenda tells Neil, after a fight with her mother.  Attics like this, with windows, finished floors and headroom, have always fascinated me and this scene really made an impression on me when I first saw the movie – the hidden treasures that were waiting to be found  there! 




Brenda’s cute 60’s style bedroom saw lots of action, of course.  After Neil is invited to be a houseguest during Brenda’s last two weeks at home – each night he sneaks into her bedroom behind her parents’ back.  By today’s standards – the parents would probably allow the boyfriend to share the room with their college aged girl.    At the time, this was such a scandalous situation – a it made my elder relatives very uncomfortable to watch.   The bedroom is wallpapered in a bright yellow and orange floral pattern.   The curtains are white with yellow trim and the sheers have a cute daisy pattern sewn into them.  Notice her “Trimline” telephone – this was the hugely popular telephone model that was introduced to the market just three years prior. 



A classic shot from the movie – with Neil’s face in the vanity mirror. 




In Brenda’s private bathroom, the gold damask wallpaper blends in with her bedroom’s wallpaper.  I love the vanity lights – the base of each bulb  appears to be some type of  chandelier or lamp part. 



One more shot of Brenda’s bedroom  - here you can see the twin arches – one is her bookcase, the other is her vanity/desk.  The carpet is the original, dreaded  shag wall to wall.  Today, shag carpet is called “frieze.”    Here Brenda and Neil are fighting over the fact that Brenda’s has not been using birth control! 



This is the only shot of the living area or family room with it’s mod covered sofa:  bright Kelly green with chrysanthemums.    I’ve always wished they showed more of the living room than just this one shot.



The blue wallpapered guest room where Neil pretended to spend the night.   Behind Brenda’s brother are the back stairs that lead up to the attic where all the old furniture is stored.The guest room is wallpapered in a blue and white pattern.   The furniture in this room is a bedroom suite called French Provencal.   Growing up, I had a set like this – white with gilding – as did most girls I knew.    Remember bedroom suites – matching nightstands, headboards, and dressers?  Tufted fabric headboards are actually in vogue right now.  The bed has a fitted bedspread with a scalloped edged, lined with trim.  A check fabric is used for the curtains and the dust ruffle. 



A scene from Brenda’s brother’s controversial wedding.  Most Jewish movie goers  were offended by the portrayal of this wedding where guests were seen stuffing their faces with food, rudely cutting in the buffet line and just acting obnoxious.  Apparently, when the head of the studio, Robert Evans (and Ali McGraw’s husband) saw an early cut of the wedding scene, he objected that it wasn’t “ethnic” enough.  The director then recut the scene – adding more offensive footage  into the movie.



The scene my mother most objected to.  At the wedding reception, Mr. Patimkin lectures Brenda about being a good, moral daughter that he is very proud of:  “You have given me a lot of nachas, a lot of joy.  For a million dollars, nobody could buy that joy.  So, when you go back to school and you’re shivering, go to the store and buy yourself a nice leather coat with a fur collar.” My mother felt he should have told her to either call or come home.   Brenda, is feeling quite guilty here, knowing she’s been having sex behind her parents’ back and if her father knew, he would not be so proud of her.    Oh, the pathos!



The riotous wedding reception.  Forty years later – it seems more tame, farcical, and extremely dated.  This time around, I certainly wasn’t offended watching it as no one I know acts like that at a wedding!    I don’t know where this scene was filmed, but I suspect it may be the country club, which was the setting for many scenes in the movie. 



The End:  Brenda goes back to Radcliffe and leaves her birth control at home which her mother promptly discovers.  Feeling too guilty to ever bring Neil home again – she ends the relationship.   Neil, of course, doesn’t understand why she left her birth control at home and realizes Brenda did it to end the relationship proving that the privileged Westchester girl would never marry the poor Bronx boy.   Today, this class struggle – the divide between upper and lower class Jews seems comical and very unrealistic and would never be an issue today.  In fact, I’m not even sure such a class divide even exists at all.   This scene is set in what is supposed to be a sleazy motel, but the wallpaper is a charming Prince of Wales feather type and the chest looks like the most authentic antique in the entire movie!




I hope you enjoyed looking back at one of my favorite movie houses from my teenaged years.  What is your favorite teenaged movie?  Is there a house in it that made it a favorite?  Did you ever see Goodbye Columbus – and if so – did you have the same positive feelings to the house as I did?


  1. Wasn't Ali just gorgeous in this?? You are so right, there is no way Richard Benjamin could have ever had a chance!!

    For myself, I was still in single digits when it was released so it wasn't a teenage movie I guess, but Camelot with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave truly spun my little head around!

  2. I went right over to Netflix and put an order in to view this movie.

    A movie that I recently watched that I just loved the scenery was Atonement. How fabulous it would be to stay in such a house.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving dear Joni.

  3. Richard Benjamin!! Go Know!!!
    From nothing in the looks department! Ali on the other hand was creamy-dreamy. (she was also the girl on the polaroid swinger commercial!) Love the house, the entryway and the stairs especially, but that nouveau riche crap has to go. A gold phone? Oy!
    (all this with a Lon Gisland accent)

    Rich Girls don't marry Poor Boys, Jay Gatsby.

  4. Oh, and a Chysler Imperial for him, a Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country Station Wagon for her, A Dodge Dart for brother, a Dodge Charger for Ali and a 1960 Chevrolet for poor Richard Benjamin.

  5. Love the foyer wallpaper what a wonderful color and pattern. Also loved the exterior of the home from the colors to the landscaping. Nice and simple not over done!

  6. HI Joni,
    I remember seeing the movie way back then. I was most surprised by Richard Benjamin as the boyfriend. Ali wasthe girl that everyone wanted to be and none of us would have dated him...we all thought he was "gross" a common phrase back then. Thanks for this alk doen memory lane. Don't remember even thinking about the house.
    My favorite movie house is Father of the Bride. Just charming.

  7. Oh Joni...I love that you still have the girl in you! It surely comes across in all of your posts. Thanks for letting us peek into your young mind and heart (and into these historical shots)
    Me..edging on 40..I LOVE the house in Sixteen Candles. John Hughes famously depicted the lives of the rich homes in Chicago in a lot of his movies. Another good ones my kids like to watch from the early 90's w/ a TO DIE for house is "Home Alone". I freeze the frame in that one a lot to check out about a gorgeous stairway and entryway. Love.

  8. It funny how today we wish we had some of these things and when we find them, they are so expensive. I love the house, it the type of home I've always wanted.

    How in the world did you find all these photo's ?


  9. What a great step back in time! I was 5 then.. I remember how my Mom dressed..very similar dresses etc. ..and the cars and all the wallpaper and crazy patterns on the couches at my Grandmother's house! I can't believe Ali was 30 years old in her movie debut.. she was/is a beauty! If only we could go back a spell and hang out by the pool at the country club and talk of more simple things like which party we are going to, what dress, who our date is.... instead of the Dow Jones, Housing Market, and bank bail outs!!!

  10. Dear Joni, I have never heard of this movie but I will run out and rent it right away. The bones of the house are beautiful but the interiors, ugh. Many house around my neighborhood look exactly like this, the Philadelphia Main Line, and I can tell you they are stunning and so well made. I remember seeing Fun with Dick and Jane and loved the house of Jane's parents. But now I will have to go rent that as the memory is so old and g*d only know what that house really looks like. xo, MB

  11. Thanks Joni...I had forgotten about this movie. Now I want to see it again, just to see the interiors of the house.

  12. I've never heard of this movie (it came out four years before I was born), but I think I'd love to see it just to see more of that house! Even though it's very 60's, there are loads of things about it that I love. It's always interesting to what things have stood the test of time.

    The headboard in the master bedroom is exactly what I want for my own bedroom...but I want to paint it a glossy solid white. And I love the dining room chairs!

  13. Random question...isn't the mezuzah slanted the wrong way?

  14. Never seen the movie, now I will have to rent it! OMG the house is perfect and Ali---BEAUTIFUL!!

  15. Interesting. I never saw the movie, but I can see why you were drawn to the house. As far as movie houses go, if you don't count the snail in Dr. Doolittle, then I guess I'd have to say I liked the house in Ordinary People.

  16. Nice post Joni...

    Those DR chairs are Kelly Werstler-ish.

    The movie- The Apartment is another goodie!

    Thanks for visiting my blog :)

  17. Joni,
    That was such an interesting post. I enjoyed following your thoughts around on the different scenes. How in the world did you freeze frame those shots? So very fun.

    Now, on the house: paint the shutters black PLEASE!

    Love your posts, friend!

  18. Joni,
    I don't know how you do it. You really tap into some core issues, homes, identity, etc. I am just amazed at your zen-like attention to detail and how it reveals our inner lives. YOU NEED TO GET A BOOK DEAL.
    The thing I remember most about GC was the moment when Ali McGraw emerges from the pool and yanks her bathing suit over her butt cheeks. I didnt' remember the house at all. Clearly it had more resonance for you as a Jew. All my high-school Jewish friends in San Antonio lived in contemporary homes with Picasso etchings and massive amounts of glass window-walls. The movie houses that most impressed me in adolescence were the two homes in the original Parent Trap. One (father Brian Keith's) was v. modern, the other, (mother Maureen O'Hara's) a NY apt. more traditional and WASPy. And later the house and set for the movie Petulia (George C. Scott and Julie Christie). I rushed home and duplicated the giant tie-dye wall-hanging on the basis of their master bedroom. Okay, it was the 60s, so sue me!

  19. Such an interesting post, Joni. I'm going to order the movie from Netflix.

  20. Such a fun post Joni - and such a great blast from the past. I am a huge movie fan and more often than not for the styling/decor rather than the plot line.
    Shall be re- watching this one. ( He was seriously unattractive, wasn't he - poor man. Whatever happened to him?) xv

  21. Joni,
    Amazing post, so much fun to remember. I am 45 and remeber seeing the film on black and white TV! Ali was a goddess, Take a look at original Parent Trap, Brian Keith's ranch house! Loved his shower scene with Maureen O'Hara's stockings hung over door. Why did women do that? How 'bout Dr. Zhivago, Doris Day aka. Calamity Jane's cabin fixer!

  22. Joni, such a fun home tour. I was 13 when Goodbye, Columbus came out, and I remember Ali's outfits being the total inspiration when shopping for clothes. And by the time her next movie rolled around, I was busy crocheting those little wool caps like mad!

    My favorite homes of the era? Yikes, that was a long time ago... Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House, Please Don't Eat The Daisies, with Doris Day and David Niven, and The Sound of Music were all at the top of my list. I do have to say it has been so many years- I don't remember what the interiors really looked like :)

  23. Wow Joni...this is all so amazing. I well remember this film and uh huh. Brenda's bedroom's wallpare was much like my bedroom's bedding! I even had that exact telephone. : )
    her Mom looks so much like my Aunt babe did (My Grandma's youngest sister) at that time, right down to the hair net and smoking in bed!
    His mom looks like my Grandma sis...with the same aprons.

    Reading this post was like a walk back into the past. Wow was Ali gorgeous. She still is...: )

    Isn't it a wow to see what passed as *wicked* in films then compared to what they show now? I remember talking a friend's mom into taking her and me to see Summer of '42. It was R rated and we had to have a *grown up* take us. We were 16 at the time and thought it was so cool to see it. It seems mild and so very tame by today's standards.

    So many of the movie homes of my past stuck with me...I love that I am not the only one!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you ad your family!


  24. Seen while I was in college, I loved, loved this very 60's movie. I made lots of tissue paper flowers as seen on the wall in Brenda's bedroom! Flower Power!

  25. Oh this was wonderful.. I saw this movie in my soph. year of college.
    Ali M was so beautiful.
    But the amazing thing is, having loved the house at the time, and having not seen it til now, how funny things look 40 years later.
    So I so enjoyed seeing this through your eyes.
    So enjoyable, and thank you.

  26. It was fun to look at the pictures. I'm going to order the movie to watch. It will be perfect to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate to watch on cold night. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. I don't think i ever saw that one. But wow that Ali! I remember her in Love Story.

    That pushbutton gold phone was pretty hip for the time, no?

  28. Awww, you guys are harsh, I think Neil is sorta cute!! I'll have to check out this movie.
    I remember growing up how the size of a house was so impressive to kids. I grew up in a large house in a regular neighborhood, and when I'd have friends over they'd be oddly impressed, which I never understood. I guess when you grow up in a ranch house, a seperate floor is a revelation! I remember always being jealous of my grandparents who lived in an international style very modern house on a hillside high above the trees while we had a boring colonial! The grass is always greener!

  29. Hello - followed your comment at Aurora Primavera and landed on the Cote de Texas - what an interesting post!

    My husband and I were already married and living in a small apartment when Goodbye Columbus first came out, and we were interested because we'd read the book. I didn't remember the interiors but we never forgot that second refrigerator full of fruit.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  30. I'm surprised you don't find this movie offensive. I grew up wishing we were jewish because my favorite family was jewish. They lived in a beautiful restored victorian home filled with real antiques and old paneling, had a great backyard and best of all there was lots of affection and doting grandparents around. They were the only parents I knew who still seemed hot for each other, and weren't fighting all the time(this was the birth of the divorce age and we were all terrified). Her grandmom made the best latkes. Your mom's criticism of the father seems appropriate. I'll take Ali McGraw's red striped shirt.

  31. PS. We had those awful velour blankets. My mom tried to give them to me when I moved out and I turned her down.

  32. WHAT a BLAST from the Past, Joni!! I loved that movie! I was 21 when it came out and was married with two children! I can't believe it......too much!
    I remember thinking that the Patimkin's home was so gorgeous and could only imagine what it would be like to live there. Of course, Ali McGraw, was so gorgeous to me and I loved her clothes . She was something else.
    Thanks so much for this great post and bringing back great memories. My , my how times have changed. The fact that the movie did not hold the attention of your daughter is proof of that! We were glued to it at the time, weren't we?
    Great Post, Joni! Happy Thanksgiving!

  33. I have never heard of this movie before, but you have me hooked. I must see it. I don't even belong to Netflix, but I'm going to have to sign up and put this on my list. I'm so excited to see it.

  34. love the house!
    coastal nest
    Thanks joni, happy turkey day

  35. This is really something, I am going to rent the movie right away. I hadn't thought about Ali for awhile, yet when I was a teenager I held her in high esteem for her classic style and beauty, she always looked younger than her years!

  36. The parents in our town (Shaker Heights) weren't too happy about the movie, either. I remember being amazed that Ali had the guts to have a boy in her bedroom. The potential consequences were so dire, I could never have risked it. (I had the white and gold bedroom furniture and the Villager clothes, too.)

  37. Thanks for the memory!! I love this movie, too. I was born the year it came out in theatres. I also liked Brian Keith's house in the original "Parent Trap". Do you remember the movie "Home Alone" from the early 90's? That house was great, I believe it was in a Chicago suburb. I also liked the house in "Risky Business", which was also in the same area.

  38. I woudn't have been allowed to see the movie, too edgy for my conservative folks. Oh, those popcorn rocks plopped around that circular drive...that's all this garden designer can see. Yikes.

  39. I was living in Westchester County in 1969 (as a new bride ha ha!), attending art school in NYC. This movie was the bomb back then.
    But the decor, the wedding, the whole schtick was nothing I EVER aspired to having. Well 40 years later I would love those chartreuse chairs ha ha.
    Did you ever hear of a place called Leonards (in Quenns, NY)? It was a wedding factory, and there were weddings and goings ons just like the wedding in the movie. And BTW except for the real WASPY weddings (which never took place in a wedding factory), all the ethnic groups acted the same joyous way.
    xo xo
    PS How did you get the great stills? Did you capture them from the DVD?

  40. Joni:

    You are so generous and insightful, a real treasure. You make design so personal and accessible -- I think that I have gained more from you than from my years in design school. You have taken "snotty" (I could use another word) out of the business.

    You have struck a nerve -- how we live says a lot about us and definitely affects our well-being. Our homes (and design) are at the core of community. Thank you.

  41. What a trip! The gaudiness of it all! So funny. We had brown and orange shag carpet in my childhood home. It's so funny what people find stylish, isn't it?

  42. Joni, I never saw this movie, I would have turned 13 that year & my parents were really strict (in fact, we didn't GO to movies at all when I was growing up). I had to sneak out with my friends when I was 16..but that's another story, LOL.

    Anyway, I remember this movie, but never saw it. It's so interesting that you remember every single detail about it all and I can't believe all the still shots you put on here to show the house, which is in itself a beauty (even if overdecorated). you must have a great memory! Fun post, don't the 60's seem a lifetime away now?!

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, Joni!

  43. I've recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much! Your walk down memory lane brought me back on many levels ~ the fashions, the morality, and Meyerland! I lived in Houston for more than 30 years and actually lived in Meyerland for a small amount of that time. Beautiful neighborhood, great neighbors, and the deli!! Loved it all. Thanks for reminding me of the "good" times.

  44. Thank you for such a wonderful account of something that has given you so much inspiration! I also draw inspiration from movies and childhood memories that I hope come through in my design work. I really appreciate you sharing your inspiration.
    One of the best blog entries I have ever read!

  45. Joni,

    Your eye for detail continues to amaze. You can break down a scene like no other--all the way to the switch plates. It's humbling, really.

    Being about the same age as you, and not being a WASP myself, I SO admired what looked traditionally American. My background was part Italian immigrant, part Austin hippie, part college professor parents, so I longed for anything that looked WASPy. Too bad we couldn't afford any of it! So, when I saw the original movie "The Parent Trap" and the two houses those girls grew up in, I was envious. Between the gorgeous traditional city house and the California ranch pad, I couldn't decide which would be cooler.

    But, as much as I admired those homes, I didn't know how to analyze the decor in the same way you do! Keep doing it! We love it!

  46. Joni, I haven’t thought about this movie in years! And on your recommendation, I’m going to go rent it and watch it again. I thoroughly enjoyed your description of the movie, the sets, and your family’s reaction to it.

    I loved Ali McGraw, too, and thought she was so gorgeous. Can't believe she was 30 when she played in this movie!

    I remember loving her house when it appeared years ago in what I remember as "House Beautiful" though it might have been a different magazine. As I recall, it was a Malibu beach house, and the sofas were white. She used lots of her jewelry (large chunky pieces like turquoise) in baskets as accessories in the room. Lots of natural textures and fibers,too, and it had such a fresh look. That house would probably be very current today. It had the most comfortable, with-it sensibility. It reminded me a lot of what I thought about her from her movies.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. It was a good read as always.

    Here's wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving. One of the things I'm thankful for is you and your blog. You're an inspiration, and it's been so nice getting to know you online.

    All good wishes,


  47. I just absolutely love reading your posts and getting these peeks into your heart and mind.

    I'm going to have to rent this movie now and then come re-read your post. This movie was out before I was born!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful for our paths crossing in the big world of blogland. My own little world is much brighter with you in it. =)


  48. This was not a movie, but a series...I really liked Mary Tyler Moore's apartment with the sunk in living room.
    I am not sure I would feel the same today, but I sure thought it was hip back then : )

  49. "Sixteen Candles" is mine but I will check yours out for sure!
    I have alot of catching up to do on your blog...I have been so busy opening my store that I I have lost touch ( and 6 lbs. - I thought I was going to have to get a feeding tube it was getting so bad ;)
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  50. Joni, what a terrific review you've provided here, not only of the movie itself but the interiors! Omigosh, I remember all that heavy handed wallpaper and it seemed like they gilded everything!

    Just give me those cars!!! I do remember the movie and was equally unimpressed with the choice of Richard Benjamin. I just found him creepy and never understood what Paula Prentiss saw in him. I loved the home, although I'd love to see what it looks like today less all the gilt and dated wallpaper.

    Do you remember The Sterile Cuckoo with Liza Minelli? Or The Graduate? Neither one resonanted with me but I was a senior in high school when Dr. Zhivago was released. I swear, I saw it a half dozen times. Set in one of the bloodiest eras in history it was one of the last big budget sweeping sagas. I just remember them riding in a sleigh to the ice palace.

    Dr. Zhivago was my movie.

    - Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife

  51. Oh dear Joni - please don't tell me this movie is 40 years old! Like you I was 14 & it was the first movie my parents let me go to without them - went with a chum from school. I loved it, but then spent the next 3 months trying to hide from my parents that it was R-rated! A most stressful experience let me tell you!

    2 highlights for me - yes, that incredible attic of treasures & the circular driveway @ the Patimkin's house. Something we don't see much of here in Australia, I wanted a house with one for years!

    My favourite movie of the era was Woodstock. Saw it 5 times & it had a huge effect on me. Coming from an extremely conservative family, @ 14 I just so wanted to be a hippie & shock my family to the core!! Thanks for the fabulous memories!
    Millie ^_^

  52. Alright, get ready to freak out, our friends live in that house which is incredible, totally renovated and if you come this way, tour is promised! You would be in heaven!

  53. Joni — all I can remember from that movie was the brother singing his college song. My best friend and I took our mothers to see our favorite movie, "The Graduate." Whoa! Big mistake. Our mothers were horrified and, of course, it was our favorite movie. We had seen it before and, to this day, I don't know what possessed us to think our moms would like it or get it. Smart college girls can be pretty dumb sometimes!

  54. I loved this post! The English country-house meets American colonial revival style never changes through the decades -- Philadelphia Story, Caddyshack, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Mr/Mrs Bridge, Mr/Mrs Smith... I'm going to have to think back and make a list...

  55. ....loved that post your blog :)

    Reading your blog is like reading an elegant upscale magazine....and I don't even need a subscription LOL.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I didn't see this movie but I really remember Ali Mcgraw and Ryan O Neal in Love Story.

    ..look forward to future issues of this awesome magazine ( blog )LOl


  56. I think I need to rent this movie... recently we watched The Graduate... and the real life ages of the actors were interesting... Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin were practically the same age.
    Thanks for the nostalgia.

  57. I love watching older films and this is one that I haven't seen - I just know the music. How did Richard Benjamin end up with the part? You are so right as he is just not cute!

    Can't wait to put it in my Blockbuster queue.

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

  58. Joni,
    How in the heck did you get all the pics ?

    I remember that movie too.
    R.Benjamin & Paula Prentiss were my neighbors in NYC.He is cuter in person, but too many freckles.
    The shutters would look better in black with the red door.
    I guess it is personal preference.

    Hope you had a really nice T-giving,
    xx OO

  59. I'll say Ali McGraw has aged the best of anything in that movie. I live in Santa Fe and see her about once a week (she is so normal...I see her at Whole Foods, the gas station, etc.) I'm always trying to hide the fact that I'm staring at her because she looks so amazing!! And not in that freaky botox way, either. She barely looks any older than she does in your stills.

  60. I would also like to know how you got all these stills. I've been wanting to do a similar (albeit, much shorter, much less informative :-) post on this exact idea.

    I very often watch movies just for the interiors. I favor the 40s for some reason: the original Christmas in Connecticut, The Philadelphia Story, the lodge/hotel in White Christmas; also the apartment in Barefoot in the Park (not fancy, just really cute), I used to obsess over the Father of the Bride house (the one with Steve Martin), oh, the beach house in A Summer Place. Talk about racy back then, before my time. The lodge (again with the lodges) in Man's Favorite Sport.

    I have never even heard of this movie (sheltered childhood) but I will definitely rent it.

  61. merry christmas from Norway, its a small world, and getting smaller..
    my favorite house is not exactly from the 1980, when i was a teenager.
    there are too many favorites to mention here. but the one that made the first big impression on me as a child, and witch(spelling?) is largely responsible of my love of interior design is, "a place in the sun" and liz familys lake house, soo beautiful, i like the rustic combined with luxury like silk. the scene that has stayed with me is not long but made a strong impression.obv.
    monty clift has been arrested for shelly winters murder, liz is in her bedroom in the house, they are packing up to go back to the town house, liz is in chock over the murder, she is reclined in a cheize, witch is situated in front of a large beautifull window,you can se a tree outside the window being tosseled by the strong autumm wind tapping it against the window. liz has a large silk duvet draped over her, i just love the way silk looks in black and white movies, magic. the camera pans from liz to her mother burning a newspaper featuring the murder story on the front page, in the big open fireplace.
    from he eigties i love the house in hart to hart, the outside is the former home of june allison and her husband dick powell, were rj wagner spent a lot of time years before h to h, he loved the house and wanted it for the series, the house i think is one of the main characters in the series.
    ps. i love love love this blogg, keep up the sublime work.
    best regards kari

  62. Hi, reading this book now. You have a fabulous eye for detail! Such a great collection of shots. I will have to rent this film. Thanks for the read.

  63. i love the antique.but where can i find the movie online?

  64. It's an amazing short story as well and you don't have to look at Richard Benjamin when you read it.
    He was the next in line when they couldn't get Elliot Gould in those days.
    This is probab;y nitpicking but the Paimkin's home in the story (and movie) is in the upscale New Jersey shtetl suburbs of Short Hills/Milburn(not Westchester) and Neil lives in the once-awesome jewish section of Newark where Phillip Roth grew up and where most of
    his novels are set. It's like the Bronx but it's not the Bronx.