Whether adapting his own plays or writing directly for the screen, Neil Simon was one of the few writers who could draw an audience on his name alone. The typical Simon script combines humor, sentimentality, and pace in ways that Hollywood (and audiences) often found hard to resist. Directed by veteran Herbert Ross and featuring a large cast of big-name actors and immediately accessible character situations, California Suite was destined to be, and in fact was, a popular film. A derivative of Simon's successful 1971 Plaza Suite (three vignettes set in a Manhattan hotel), California Suite is four intercut vignettes set in a Beverly Hill Hotel. Although the four stories appear to be crisscrossed for no reason, and some flounder badly at times, Maggie Smith, who won an Oscar for her role as an aging actress, and Michael Caine steal the show -- a significant achievement considering such talents as Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Walter Matthau, Elaine May, Jane Fonda, and Alan Alda are also on the bill. Simon was nominated for an Academy Award for the script based on his own play (his third nomination in four years).