With The Ritz, Terrence McNally's hit Broadway play of the same name is cinematized by director Richard Lester. Jack Weston plays Gaetano Proclo, a minor mob flunky who's been targeted for elimination by his brother-in-law, Carmine Vespucci (Jerry Stiller). Gaetano takes refuge in what he thinks is a Turkish bath. Actually, it's The Pits. That's the name, "The Pits" -- a gay bathhouse (this is the pre-AIDS era), where the exquisitely awful Googie Gomez (Rita Moreno) entertains the homosexual patrons with her ear-splitting renditions of such show tunes as "Everything's Coming Up Roses." Hoping to save his neck by pretending to be gay, Gaetano effusively praises Googie. Assuming that he is a big-time Broadway producer, she plays up to him. Everything would be hunky-dory, except that the bathhouse is owned by the very mob that has put a contract on Gaetano. What follows is an old-fashioned door-slamming farce, except that there are no doors to slam. The supporting cast includes Kaye Ballard, Treat Williams, George Coulouris, F. Murray Abraham, Dave King, and (as one of the patrons) a pre-Cheers John Ratzenberger.
by Hal Erickson synopsis