Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

In writer/director Elaine May's romantic 'black' comedy - similar to Mike Nichols' classic The Graduate (1967), about marital uncertainty; it was followed by the Farrelly Brothers' R-rated remake 35 years later The Heartbreak Kid (2007), with Ben Stiller:

  • the opening NYC traditional marriage sequence (after a brief courtship) between Jewish, egotistical, self-serving sporting-goods salesman Lenny Cantrow (Charles Grodin) and gawky, 22 year-old virginal Lila Kolodny (Jeannie Berlin)
The Marriage of Lenny to Lila
  • the vulgar quirks of Lila that irritated Lenny on the drive to their honeymoon in Miami Beach: her talk about being together for decades and having to listen to her off-key singing voice: ("You're just gonna have to get used to it for the next 40 or 50 years"), her drawing of circles on his hairy chest with her finger, her habit of eating Milky Way chocolate bars after intimacy, her messy and slobbish eating habits with a double egg salad sandwich in a House of Pancakes restaurant: ("I'm an egg salad nut - that's another thing that you're gonna have to get used to"); her neediness, sexual insecurities and yapping during sex ("It's wonderful, isn't it wonderful? Tell me. Tell me it's wonderful, Lenny. Say it, say it again, I didn't hear you"), and her endless efforts to comb her unruly hair
  • while Lila was confined to her Doral Hotel room with a severe sunburn (and covered in cream), Lenny met and became infatuated on the beach and later in a bar with flirtatious, Midwestern blonde college coed Kelly Corcoran (Cybill Shepherd) - an ultimate fantasy dream figure vacationing on her winter break with her family, while telling Lila a running excuse that he was meeting with an "old army buddy"
Dream Girl: Kelly Corcoran
  • the awkward dinner sequence at the Jockey Club when Lenny met Kelly's over-protective, wealthy, contemptuous, disapproving WASP banker-father Duane Corcoran (Eddie Albert) and her mother (Audra Lindley) for the first time; later after a yacht excursion with the family, they shared a drink, when Duane asked if he would be "laying (his) your cards on the table" - and Lenny mumbled a profession of love with a bald-faced statement of his major issue - he had been married for five days: "I'm just kinda shuffling. Uh, this is actually my deal now. Well, you know, in just plain, old-fashioned, corny lingo, sir, uh, I have fallen head over heels with your Kelly here. It didn't take me long to make up my mind. One good look did it, actually, if you wanna know the truth. I'm the kind of crazy hairpin that doesn't need much more than that. And then, that's it for life with me. Now, there is a slight complication, uh, I happen to be a newlywed. Uhm, I-uh-I made the big mistake about five days ago in New York. When I say big, sir, I mean Radio-City-Music-Hall big. You may have seen her around the pool. She's a nice girl. But just, uh, not, not really my type. I married her because I thought it was the decent thing to do. And I've learned that, uh, decency doesn't always pay off. Uh, so I'm going to get out. It'll be difficult, but not impossible. Not, not when you're as determined as I am. Sitting opposite you, Mr. Corcoran, is probably - the most determined young man that you have ever seen. (nervous laughter) Now, I know that you are going back to Minneapolis tomorrow and it's my plan, just as soon as I work out this messy business here, to follow you out to Minnesota, to get myself set up there, and to lay claim to your lovely daughter here. Those are my cards, and, uh, Mr. Corcoran, there's, there's not a joker in the bunch"
  • the simple, understated responses of Mr. Corcoran to Lenny - as he steadfastly refused to consider the preposterous offer: "Not if they tied me to a horse and pulled me forty miles by my tongue"; when Lenny responded: "Well, that's an honest answer, sir," Corcoran doubled-down with another frank answer: "Not if they hung me from a tree and put a lit bomb in my mouth...I don't like one god-damn thing about you...You come hanging around my daughter on your honeymoon? Hang around your wife! Don't hang around my daughter!...Five days, he's married! For God-- five days!...Where's respect for the institution of marriage?...Get him out before I take him into the men's room and break all the respect in his body...You stay away from her. I don't hand out my daughter to newlyweds! Why didn't you go to Niagara Falls like everybody else...You stay the hell out of Minnesota, you god-damn newlywed!"
  • the lengthy sequence of an expensive lobster dinner between Lenny and Lila in a crowded seafood restaurant, when he became unhinged after the waiter apologized for running out of pecan pie: "Pardon me, sir. I'm afraid we're a little late with the pecan pie. Chef tells me we ran out about ten minutes ago. Would you like to order something else?" - Lenny went into an irate projected tirade and made a scene in front of other restaurant patrons: "No pecan pie!...The main reason we came here was for the pecan pie... They should've said that to us at the door. They should've warned us that there was a danger of running out of pecan pie....I mean, we drove all the way from New York!"
  • and then Lenny's beating-around-the-bush discussion with Lila about being free and having their whole lives in front of them: "I mean, the people you could meet, the places you could go, the things that you could do...We only pass through once, right? I mean, we can't squander it, no matter what happens. We're just passing this way but one time. We can't squander it... That's why we have to use and learn from anything that happens. We have to learn from the good, from the bad, from the happiness, from the tragic. We have to learn. We have to use it all. To use it all...We have to prepare ourselves for anything, you know?"
  • Lenny's dropping of a bombshell on the humiliated and pathetic Lila that he wanted to terminate their marriage: "I mean, everything could be terrific. The world could be singing. And then suddenly, suddenly, for no reason at all, it's over. It's over, Lila" - but she interpreted his message of doom that he was suffering from a terminal illness, until he corrected her: "I'm not dying! Who said anything about dying? I want out of the marriage! I want out of the god-damn marriage...We're not right for each other. It didn't work out"
  • as she tearfully tried to flee to the bathroom to throw up, he promised her a generous divorce settlement: "I'm gonna make a terrific settlement, a generous settlement. I'm gonna give you everything. I'm gonna give you the car. I'm gonna give you all the luggage. I'm gonna give you all the wedding presents"; as she cried on his shoulder, he added: 'It's not the end of the world! It's just a crummy annulment"
  • Lenny's final words of appeasement: "You know what I would like? I would like that we should have dinner sometime. You know? And I think that then, we could look back on all of this and we could see all the good, all the good that's come out of this. That's the way, that's, that's the way I would like this to end. Wouldn't you?"
  • after making hasty arrangements for a quickie divorce in about two to three weeks, Lenny's trip to Minnesota to meet with Kelly, where he yelled out: "I'm free and clear" after discovering her on her frigid, wintry college campus surrounded by her jock boyfriends; the empty-headed blonde gave a shocked reaction to his inopportune arrival: "I'm really very flattered" - he ironically asserted his seriousness: "This is no game. This is my life. I don't play games with my life"
  • his secret rendezvous with Kelly in the Corcoran's summer cabin in the mountains, where in front of a roaring fire, she proposed an erotic sexless game: "Have you got the nerve to try something very dangerous?... Remember, I'm not gonna sleep with you...We take off everything and get as close as we possibly can without touching. It's a lot harder than it sounds" - after she stripped naked in front of him, he prayed: "Thank you, God. I'm just seeing your masterpiece, and I thank you for it" - then, after he stripped too, they slowly approached each other - without touching; after the game ended, she promised him: "I'll sleep with you tomorrow night" - and she fulfilled her promise; in bed with her after having sex, Lenny assured himself: "I knew it could be like this. Never was like this. I knew it was possible...I knew I wasn't crazy. A lot of people might've thought I was crazy"
  • over a formal dinner at the Corcoran's house, the scene of Lenny's inane positive praise to Mrs. Corcoran about the meal's "honest," "real," and humble Midwestern ingredients: ("I don't mind saying this is one of the finest meals that I've ever had...There's no lying in that beef. There's no, uh, insincerity in those potatoes. There's no deceit in the cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal"); afterwards, in a private conversation in his study with Lenny, Mr. Corcoran stated: "Nobody wise-guys away my little baby" and upped the ante on an original bribe of $5,000 to $25,000 to keep Lenny away from Kelly ("Cold, hard American currency, $25,000 goddamn dollars!"), but Lenny steadfastly refused: "I want Kelly!"
  • the concluding bleak sequence of Kelly's and Lenny's Christian wedding (bookending the opening sequence) and their subsequent reception (with lots of rounds of small-talk chit-chat), where Kelly and other conservative guests soon ignored him, and he was left alone on a couch with two bored children who soon wandered off

Awkward Dinner Scene Between Newlywed Lenny and Kelly's Disapproving Parents

The Lobster Dinner Breakup Scene Between Lenny and His Newlywed Wife

Lenny's Trip to Minnesota to Meet Kelly on Her College Campus

Lenny - Sex with Kelly

Meeting with Kelly's Parents Again

Lenny and Kelly's Nuptials

Lenny Bored on Couch After Wedding to Kelly


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