Any Wednesday (1966): Robert Ellis Miller’s Romantic Comedy, Scripted by Julius (Casablanca) Epstein, Starring Jane Fonda, Jason Robards, and Dean Jones

One of Jane Fonda’s earlier films before she became a bona fide star, Any Wednesday is a verbose, mediocre romantic comedy that places the rising actress (and Henry Fonda’s oldest daughter) between two vastly different men: Jason Robards and Dean Jones.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Any Wednesday
Any wed moviep.jpg

Film poster by Robert McGinnis

Poorly directed by Robert Ellis Miller from a screenplay by producer Julius J. Epstein (best known for co-writing Casablanca), the film is based on Muriel Resnik’s hit play, which ran on Broadway for 984 performances for 28 months, with Sandy Dennis in the lead role that was assigned to Jane Fonda.

The story centers on a young Manhattan woman (Fonda) who is trying to decide between two suitors, one married (Robards) and one not (Jones), on the day of her 30th birthday.  For a change, Fonda plays a woman who was her own age (she was born in 1937)

John Cleves (Robards), a businessman with an office in New York and a home in New Jersey, spends each Wednesday night in the city. He is lying to wife Dorothy (Rosemary Murphy) that he is out of town on business when he actually is seeing Ellen, his mistress (Fonda).

Meanwhile, a business client from Akron, Ohio, Cass Henderson (Dean Jones), comes to town and is unable to find a hotel room for the night. Cleves’ new secretary knows of an “executive suite” the boss maintains in town and sends him there for the night. When he meets Ellen, he mistakenly assumes she is a woman of dubious nature, hired by Cleves to entertain him.

The secretary compounds the error by telling Dorothy about the apartment. Dorothy goes there and discovers Ellen and Cass, assuming them to be a young couple. The women take a liking to each other so Dorothy invites them to spend an evening out on the town with her and John.

Dorothy eventually discovers her husband’s cheating and leaves him. Ellen invites her to use the apartment. John tries to win his wife’s love back, but she tells him she is only available on Wednesdays.

Rosemary Murphy reprised her role as Dorothy Cleves, which she played on Broadway. Sandy Dennis, who won a Tony Award for her performance, was not a big enough name for Hollywood production; her status would change in a matter of months, after winning the 1967 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The original stage play also featured Barbara Cook, Don Porter, and Gene Hackman (a year before he made Bonnie and Clyde).

Jane Fonda was nominated for a 1966 Golden Globe nomination for “Best Performance-Musical or Comedy.”

Some exterior scenes were shot on location, in Manhattan, but the rest is all indoors, inevitably giving the impression of a play that has not been successfully opened up for the big screen.

Cast

Jane Fonda as Ellen Gordon

Jason Robards as John Cleves

Dean Jones as Cass Henderson

Rosemary Murphy as Dorothy Cleves

Paula Prentiss as Miss Linsley

Jack Fletcher as Felix

King Moody as Milkman

Credits:

Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, based on Any Wednesday 1964 play by Muriel Resnik
Produced by Julius J. Epstein
Cinematography Harold Lipstein
Edited by Stefan Arnsten
Music by George Duning
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: October 13, 1966 (Radio City Music Hall)

Running time: 109 minutes
Box office $1,500,000 (US/ Canada)