Critic's Choice (1963)


Critic's Choice (1963)
Critic's Choice (original title)

Parker Ballantine is the most respected and forthright of the New York theater critics. Most of his closest friends are part of the Broadway community, such as his ex-wife actress Ivy London and producer S.P. Champlain. These friendships are not affected by bad reviews from Parker. Angie Ballantine is Parker's current devoted and faithful wife, who goes with him to show openings and even waits in the newsroom for him to write his reviews. Parker and Ivy's son, John Ballantine, lives with his father and Angie, who he loves. Angie has had problems in her life seeing projects through to completion, so Parker reacts with some skepticism when Angie announces she plans to write an autobiographical play about her growing up period. This project does become one that Angie does see through to completion, at least to a first draft stage, and despite Parker's disdainful reaction to at least the process, she is eager for his opinion on this draft. He complies. He hates it and tells her as such. Instead of folding under, Angie is even more determined to get the play produced to prove Parker wrong. Angie's creative team, including Champlain and up and coming womanizing director Dion Kapakos, admit Angie's script does have problems but underneath those problems is a great play. As the play goes into production which includes out of town previews (with problems still existing), Parker decides that his relationship with Angie will not force him out from doing his professional duty of reviewing the play if it makes it to Broadway. Will Parker be tainted by his own preconceived notions of the play, will he be honest, and if he is honest and doesn't like the production, will his marriage be able to survive?
IMDb   5.8 /10
TheMovieDb    5.7 /10
FilmAffinity   4.7 /10
Director Don Weis
Writer Ira Levin
Writer Jack Sher
Release Date1963-04-12
Runtime1h 40min
Content RatingApproved (Approved)
CompanyWarner Bros.
Parker Ballantineas Parker Ballantine
Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball
Angela Ballantineas Angela Ballantine
Ivy Londonas Ivy London
Dion Kapakosas Dion Kapakos
Charlotte Orr aka Charlieas Charlotte Orr aka Charlie
S.P. Champlainas S.P. Champlain
Dr. William Von Hagedornas Dr. William Von Hagedorn
John Ballantineas John Ballantine
Mrs. Margaret Champlainas Mrs. Margaret Champlain
Sally Orras Sally Orr
Joseph Gallison
Joseph Gallison
Philip 'Phil' Yardleyas Philip 'Phil' Yardley
Marge Orras Marge Orr
Harvey Rittenhouseas Harvey Rittenhouse
Jerome Cowan
Jerome Cowan
Joe Rosenfieldas Joe Rosenfield
Donald Losby
Donald Losby
Geoffrey Von Hagedornas Geoffrey Von Hagedorn
Mother in 'Sisters Three'as Mother in 'Sisters Three'
Thelmaas Thelma
Bartenderas Bartender

Critic's Choice (film)

Critic's Choice is a 1963 comedy film directed by Don Weis. Based on the 1960 Broadway play of the same name by Ira Levin, the movie stars Bob Hope and Lucille Ball and includes Rip Torn, Marilyn Maxwell, Jim Backus, Marie Windsor and Jerome Cowan in the cast.

This is the last of four films that Hope and Ball made together.

Plot summary

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Parker Ballantine (Bob Hope) is a theatrical critic, busily praising or disparaging the shows of Broadway. His wife Angela (Lucille Ball) is feeling useless and restless, so she writes a play about her mother and sisters.

Angela doesn't believe Parker should review her work, since he will look prejudiced if he does so favorably and it will hurt her feelings if he knocks it. Parker has read it and isn't impressed. A major producer, however, decides to back it.

Handsome Dion Kapakos (Rip Torn) directs the play and tries to strike up a romantic interest in the playwright. Angela continues to resist, but she's getting more fed up with Parker's negativity by the hour.

Before the play's first out-of-town tryout in Boston, the conflicted Parker goes to see his ex-wife, Ivy (Marilyn Maxwell), and gets a little tipsy. He decides to go to the opening, then writes a negative review. The trouble gets worse when he gets home.


  • Bob Hope as Parker Ballantine
  • Lucille Ball as Angela Ballantine
  • Marilyn Maxwell as Ivy London
  • Rip Torn as Dion Kapakos
  • Jessie Royce Landis as Charlotte Orr aka Charlie
  • John Dehner as S.P. Champlain
  • Jim Backus as Dr. William Von Hagedorn
  • Ricky Kelman as John Ballantine
  • Dorothy Green as Mrs. Margaret Champlain
  • Marie Windsor as Sally Orr
  • Joseph Gallison as Philip 'Phil' Yardley (as Evan McCord)
  • Joan Shawlee as Marge Orr
  • Richard Deacon as Harvey Rittenhouse
  • Jerome Cowan as Joe Rosenfield
  • Donald Losby as Godfrey Von Hagedorn
  • Soupy Sales as Boston Desk Clerk
  • Jack Mower as Audience Member (uncredited)
  • Hal Smith as Drunk (uncredited)

Critical reception

The New York Times wrote, "It is pleasing to look at in its expensive décor, color and scope, ably played by its experienced stars and ingratiating in its quieter insights into a sophisticated marital relationship. So long as it meanders modestly through some above-average repartee, it provides an agreeable way to pass an evening. Instead of leaving well enough alone, unfortunately, the director, Don Weis, has tried to upholster the shaky plot with slapstick and broad burlesque...Both stars, old hands at this sort of thing, go through their paces with benign good humor, but their subtler comic talents remain untapped. At this rate, the critics' popularity seems unlikely to improve."