Sweet Charity

Year: 1968

Studio: Universal Studios

Screenplay: Peter Stone
(based on a screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli & Ennio Flaiano)

Director: Bob Fosse

Choreographer: Bob Fosse


Brief Synopsis:

"Sweet Charity" is the bittersweet and often humorous story of Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess who falls in love too easily. The story begins with Charity being robbed and thrown into a river by her latest lover. The film presents the audience with a sense of Charity's naive, sweet and trusting personality as seen through the eyes of her co-worker friends. The main plot of the film centers on Charity's love relationship with a neurotic man, Oscar, whom she meets when they get trapped in an elevator. The film is filled with energetic songs and dances, choreographed by Bob Fosse.

Detailed Synopsis:

Shirley MacLaine plays Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess with a big heart for men. But Charity keeps getting stuck with losers, like the louse who steals her money and throws her in a river.

One evening, on her way home from work, Charity meets Vittorio Vidal (Ricardo Montalban), a suave, romantic Italian actor. Vittorio has a fight with his lover and then asks Charity, who has witnessed the fight, to go to dinner with him. Charity, of course, accepts the offer and ends up in Vittorio's bedroom. But, instead of having a romantic fling with him, she spends the night in Vittorio's closet while he makes love to his girlfriend who came to his house, begging his forgiveness.

In the morning, Charity leaves with some momentos from Vittorio (his hat and cane). When her friends hear the truth about what happened, they mock Charity for her naivete. Later, they talk of finding a better life than that of a dance hall hostess, and Charity, fed up with the low-life men she always meets, decides to try and get a better and "nicer" job.

Charity goes to a large employment agency but because she has no education and no skills, she strikes out at getting a good job. On her way out of the building, Charity gets stuck in an elevator with Oscar Lindquist (John McMartin), a neurotic insurance salesman. Oscar is a severe claustrophobic and he goes berserk in the elevator. Charity does her best to calm him down and after they are rescued from the elevator, Oscar asks Charity for a date.

Charity starts seeing Oscar but she lies about what she doesn't tell him what she does for a living or about her past with other men. Oscar thinks Charity is "pure" like him and that she, too, abhors immorality.

Charity finally tries to tell Oscar the truth, but she can't. He, however, finds out and he tells her it doesn't matter because he loves her and wants to marry her.

Oscar meets Charity's friends at the dance hall and when he sees her in that environment, he realizes that he cannot accept her past. Oscar leaves Charity at the marriage bureau and she has to come to grips with the situation and somehow move on to a new and hopeful life.