Sweet Charity, full title of which is Sweet Charity: The Adventures of a Girl Who Wanted to Be Loved, is a 1969 American musical film directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, written by Neil Simon, and with music by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields.
It stars Shirley MacLaine and features John McMartin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ricardo Montalban, Chita Rivera, Paula Kelly and Stubby Kaye. It is based on the 1966 stage musical of the same name – which Fosse had also directed and choreographed – which in turn is based on Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli's screenplay for Fellini's film Le Notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria). However, where Fellini's black-and-white film concerns the romantic ups-and-downs of an ever-hopeful prostitute, the musical makes the central character a dancer-for-hire at a Times Square dance-hall.
The film is notable for its costumes by Edith Head and its dance sequences, notably "Rich Man's Frug".
Charity Hope Valentine (Shirley MacLaine) works as a taxi dancer along with her friends, Nickie (Chita Rivera) and Helene (Paula Kelly). She longs for love, but has bad luck with men, being robbed and pushed off Bow Bridge in Central Park by one ex-boyfriend. She has another humiliating encounter with Vittorio Vitale (Ricardo Montalban), a movie star.
After failing to find a new job through an employment agency, Charity meets shy Oscar Lindquist (John McMartin) in a stuck elevator. They strike up a relationship, but Charity does not reveal what she does for a living. When she finally does tell Oscar, he initially seems to accept it, but finally tells Charity that he cannot marry her.
The optimistic Charity faces her future, alone for the time being, living hopefully ever after.
An alternate ending found on the Laserdisc and DVD versions picks up after Oscar leaves Charity. Oscar starts to go crazy in his apartment and, feeling suffocated, goes for a walk in the park. He sees Charity on their bridge in Central Park and thinks she is going to jump. Racing to rescue her, he trips and falls in the water. Charity jumps in after him, but can't swim so Oscar rescues her. Oscar realizes Charity is the only breath of fresh air in his life, proposes again, and she accepts. Fosse thought the ending was too corny, but filmed it in apprehension that the studio would demand a happy ending. In the end, though, they agreed with Fosse and kept the original ending from the stage version.Shirley MacLaine as Charity Hope Valentine
John McMartin as Oscar Lindquist
Ricardo Montalban as Vittorio Vitale
Chita Rivera as Nickie
Paula Kelly as Helene
Stubby Kaye as Herman
Barbara Bouchet as Ursula
Sammy Davis, Jr. as Big Daddy Brubeck
Suzanne Charny as "Rich Man's Frug" lead dancer
Ben Vereen as "Rich Man's Frug" dancer
- "My Personal Property"
- "(Hey,) Big Spender"
- "The Pompeii Club"
- "Rich Man's Frug"
- "If They Could See Me Now"
- "The Hustle"
- "There's Got to Be Something Better Than This"
- "It's a Nice Face"
- "The Rhythm of Life"
- "Sweet Charity"
- "I'm a Brass Band"
- "I Love to Cry at Weddings"
- "Where Am I Going?"
The film cost $20 million to make, but made only $8 million at the box office, which nearly sank Universal Pictures.
According to Variety the film earned rentals of $4,025,000 in the US and Canada.
The film received three Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Alexander Golitzen, George C. Webb, Jack D. Moore); Best Costume Design; and Best Music, Score of a Musical Picture (Original or Adaptation). It received one Golden Globe nomination for Shirley MacLaine as Best Motion Picture Actress - Musical/Comedy.
It was also screened at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, but outside of the main competition.
2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – Nominated
2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
"Big Spender" – Nominated
"If My Friends Could See Me Now" – Nominated
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: