The Owl and the Pussycat (film)

The Owl and the Pussycat is a 1970 American romantic comedy film based upon the play by Bill Manhoff, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Barbra Streisand and George Segal. Streisand plays the role of a somewhat uneducated actress, model and part-time prostitute. She temporarily lives with an educated aspiring writer (Segal). Their differences are obvious, yet over time they begin to admire each other. Comedian/actor Robert Klein appears in a supporting role.

The Owl and the Pussycat
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHerbert Ross
Produced byRay Stark
Written byBuck Henry (screenplay)
StarringBarbra Streisand
George Segal
Music byDick Halligan
CinematographyHarry Stradling
Andrew Laszlo
Edited byJohn F. Burnett
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • November 3, 1970 (1970-11-03)
Running time
95 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$23,681,338 (domestic)[1]
$11,645,000 (rentals)


The screenplay, written by Buck Henry, was based on a stage play by Bill Manhoff.[2] In the stage version, the would-be writer and the would-be actress are the only characters. Though the race of the characters is not specified in the script of the play, in the original Broadway production (1964–65), the "Owl" was played by white actor Alan Alda and the "Pussycat" by black actress/singer Diana Sands, and many subsequent productions followed this precedent; the film version omitted the characters' interracial relationship.[3]



An instant hit, the movie grossed $23,681,338 at the domestic box office, making it the 12th highest-grossing film of 1970. The movie also grossed $11,645,000 in rentals.[5]

Total gross for the movie was $35,326,338.[1]

Awards and honors

Barbra Streisand received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy nomination, her 3rd in this category. She also ranked 2nd place in Laurel Award for Best Comedy Performance, Female. George Segal also ranked 2nd place in National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor. Buck Henry was also nominated for Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium.[6]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


The movie's soundtrack[8] (Columbia Masterworks MS30401) features dialogue from the film and music from the jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Deleted scenes

Barbra Streisand filmed a nude/topless scene for The Owl and the Pussycat that was cut from the film.[9] Streisand told the press: "The director of 'The Owl and the Pussycat' wanted a topless shot, and I agreed on two conditions — one, there would be nobody in the room but George [Segal]; two, I had the right to kill the shot if I didn't think it would work."[10] In November 1979, the U.S. pornographic magazine High Society published the nude frames that were cut from the film. Streisand sued High Society for publishing the celebrity nude shots.[11]

Cultural references

Mad published a spoof of the film in its September 1971 issue (Issue #145), in which much is made of Streisand's profanity. At the end, Segal's writer character first throws his typewriter down an embankment, saying that the words he's used as a writer made him sick, then he throws her over: "Four-letter words make me even sicker! So long, Foul-Mouth!"[12]

See also


  1. "The Owl and the Pussycat, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  2. Internet Broadway Database entry for 1964–65 "Owl & The Pussycat" production
  4. Marilyn Chambers Archive, The Owl and the Pussycat
  5. "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 44
  6. Awards for The Owl and the Pussycat,, retrieved July 18, 2012
  7. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  8. Barbra Archives Streisand Discography: "The Owl & The Pussycat" soundtrack album
  9. Author unknown (1970-05-18). Time Magazine, May 18, 1970.
  10. "No Nude Scenes". St. Petersburg Times. "Compiled from AP, UPI wires", December 27, 1983.
  11. "Barbra Suing Mad". The Prescott Courier, September 28, 1979.
  12. Mad'', Issue #145, September 1971.
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