Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York

Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York is a 1975 film directed by Sidney J. Furie, about a shy young woman who moves to New York City and falls in love with the boyfriend of her extroverted roommate. The film was co-written by Kenny Solms and Gail Parent, and based on her novel. The film was shot on location in New York City.[2]

Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York
Movie Poster
Directed bySidney J. Furie
Produced byHarry Korshak
Screenplay byKenny Solms
Based onSheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York
by Gail Parent
StarringRoy Scheider
Jeannie Berlin
Rebecca Dianna Smith
Music byMichel Legrand
CinematographyDonald M. Morgan
Edited byArgyle Nelson Jr.
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 12, 1975 (1975-02-12) (St. Louis)[1]
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States


Painfully shy Sheila Levine relocates from Pennsylvania to New York City against the wishes of her parents who want her to get married. Sheila moves in with Kate, a sexy, extroverted aspiring actress with a busy social life. At Kate's suggestion, Sheila visits a nightclub, where she meets Sam, a bachelor doctor who persuades the naive Sheila to spend the night with him. Sheila has the first good sex of her life with Sam, but when she expresses romantic feelings for him, he lets her know he considers their encounter just a one-night stand, "satisfying an urge". Sheila leaves his apartment upset, saying she never wants to see him again.

Some time later, Sheila and Sam meet again when he arrives at her apartment to take Kate on a blind date. Sheila and Sam find they are still attracted to each other, but when Kate appears, she easily lures Sam's attention away from Sheila. To Sheila's chagrin, Kate and Sam begin a steady relationship. When Sheila's younger sister marries, Sheila moves back to her parents' home in Pennsylvania, planning to stay, but she quickly realizes she no longer fits in there and misses Sam, who by now is living with Kate. Sheila returns to New York City and tries to win Sam back, only to find that Sam and Kate are engaged and that Kate is pregnant. Kate later tells Sheila that Sam is only marrying her because he thinks the baby is his, but it is actually another man's child, and Kate plans to have a secret abortion after she and Sam are married. Sheila remains in New York and concentrates on her new career as a producer of children's records. Sam eventually faces the fact that he loves Sheila, not Kate, and he and Kate break up. Sam proposes to Sheila; the film ends before she gives him her answer.


Jeannie BerlinSheila Levine
Roy ScheiderSam Stoneman
Rebecca Dianna SmithKate
Janet BrandtBernice
Sid MeltonMannie
Charles WoolfWally
Leda RogersAgatha
Jack BernardiUncle Herm

Critical reception

Vincent Canby of The New York Times did not care for the film, although he liked the novel on which the film was based.

Arthur D. Murphy of Variety wrote "Substantially different from Gail Parent's book of the same title, the film version of Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York is a very appealing romantic drama with comedy ... Jeannie Berlin's title role performance is outstanding, and Roy Scheider's excellent performance as her reluctant lover is a major career milestone."[4] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four and called it "a surprisingly warm and funny tale," with a protagonist "who is someone special. Most movie women, and most movie men for that matter, know exactly what they want to do or what they feel at any given moment in the film. The source of their knowledge is that their lives have been scripted and that the actors involved can't breathe unpredictability into predictable responses. In the final analysis, it is the unpredictability of its lead characters that makes 'Sheila Levine' intriguing."[5] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote of the adaptation from page to screen that "it's difficult to understand why the material was transformed into romantic idiocy. Hollow as it sounded, the original joky tone was far preferable to this humorless sentimentality."[6] Pauline Kael of The New Yorker declared "A confused, part-liberated rehash of old Hollywood attitudes toward the young girl working in the big city, Sheila Levine isn't much of a movie."[7] Despite an advertising campaign featuring a poster with the quote "Jeannie Berlin triumphs!" from critic Leonard Maltin, the film was given a BOMB rating in Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, and panned with the sentence "Dead is right."


  • "Love Me or Love People" - Composed by Michel Legrand

See also


  1. "St. Louis". BoxOffice. February 3, 1975. C3. "'Sheila Levine,' starring Jeannie Berlin, daughter of Elaine May, begins an exclusive engagement at the Shady Oak Wednesday (12)."
  2. "Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York (1975) Filming Locations". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  3. Canby, Vincent (17 May 1975). "Screen: Miss Berlin in 'Sheila Levine'". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  4. Murphy, Arthur D. (February 5, 1975). "Film Reviews: Sheila Levine Is Dead And Living in New York". Variety. February 5, 1975. 20.
  5. Siskel, Gene (March 3, 1975). "Sheila Levine Is Dead..." Chicago Tribune. Section 4, p. 14.
  6. Arnold, Gary (March 29, 1975). "What's a Nice Girl Doing in a Film Like This?". The Washington Post. C3.
  7. Kael, Pauline (February 3, 1975). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 84.

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