When a professional couple who have lived & worked together for many years finally decide to marry, their sudden betrothal causes many unexpectedly funny and awkward difficulties. They soon find that being married is often quite different from being “best friends.”
Best Friends is a 1982 American romantic comedy film starring Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn. It is loosely based on the true story of the relationship between its writers, Barry Levinson and Valerie Curtin. The film is directed by Norman Jewison and is a drama as well as a romantic comedy.
About the Story
Richard Babson and Paula McCullen are a couple of Hollywood screenwriters who have lived and worked together for a number of years. Richard would like to get married, but Paula does not feel the need.
Having just written a film script for producer Larry Weissman, the couple decides to get married without letting anyone else know. Paula can tell it is important to Richard, so she reluctantly agrees.
They are wed in a downtown Los Angeles marriage bureau by a man named Jorge Medina in barely understandable English. For a honeymoon trip, they travel cross-country by train to inform their parents back East about what they have just done.
The first stop is Buffalo, New York, where they are met in a winter snowstorm by Paula’s parents. Eleanor and Tim McCullen are old-fashioned, so Paula informs Richard that they will need to sleep in separate beds. Richard isn’t happy about being treated like a child, or about the frigid climate and the constantly open window.
From there they go to Virginia to visit Richard’s parents, who reside in a giant high-rise condominium. No window is ever opened there, and Paula, feeling increasing panic attacks, is in dire need of some fresh air. She also accidentally overdoses on Valium and goes face-first into a salad at lunch.
The film’s theme song, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, was composed by Michel Legrand with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. In the film, the song (performed by Patti Austin and James Ingram) is first heard as Richard and Paula return to Los Angeles after their honeymoon and then subsequently heard during the closing credits.
How Do You Keep the Music Playing? was nominated for an Academy Award and has enjoyed a life of its own beyond the film, becoming a popular standard and recorded by such luminaries and Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Céline Dion and Shirley Bassey. Another song by the same songwriters and performers, “Think About Love,” is played during a montage of the train journey.
Best Friends (1982)
Directed by: Norman Jewison
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Tandy, Barnard Hughes, Audra Lindley, Keenan Wynn, Peggy Walton-Walker, Helen Page Camp
Screenplay by: Valerie Curtin, Barry Levinson
Cinematography by: Jordan Cronenweth
Film Editing by: Don Zimmerman
Costume Design by: Betsy Cox
Set Decoration by: Thomas L. Roysden
Art Direction by: Josan F. Russo
Music by: Michel Legrand
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 17, 1982