“Psycho” Meets Sondheim! The Terrific 70’s Hollywood Mystery “The Last Of Sheila” – From Stephen Sondheim And Anthony Perkins!

Richard Benjamin Last of Sheila

“Who did this room? Parker Brothers?”

As a lover of 70’s cinema, I’m taking a look at some of the most memorable films of that decade – like this!

The Brilliant 70’s Mystery “The Last Of Sheila!”

As I share some of the greatest films of the 70’s, I’ve got one of the most entertaining murder mysteries ever, with an all-star cast!

If you haven’t heard of “The Last Of Sheila”, it’s one of the best movies about Hollywood – and a mesmerizing “whodunit” as well!!

overlooked cult films

“Psycho” Meets Sondheim!

“The Last Of Sheila” is a great “Hollywood Insider” whodunnit – and it was written by two consummate Hollywood players! The plot is based on murder-mystery party games that co-authors and puzzle enthusiasts Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim wrote and performed in their homes.

Tony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim

Of course, Tony Perkins became a star through his legendary performance as Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film “Psycho.”


Their love of puzzles and mysteries led to a classic, and criminally overlooked 70’s film “the Last Of Sheila.”

The Last of Sheila!

I’ll say this up front: this is one of my favorite films of all time. It’s a classic “whodunnit”, as I said, and it was written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim. Here is the plot: Movie Producer James Coburn invites a Director, Writer, Starlet, Agent, and Manager to spend a week on his yacht off the French Riviera.

Here is the trailer:

Look At This Cast!

One of the great things about this film is the cast – a “who’s who” of Hollywood in the early 70’s…such as James Mason, who plays a washed-up Director desperate to get back behind a camera – Mason as you know was brilliant in Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita”…

James Mason Lolita

James Coburn plays the game-loving Hollywood Producer who was married to Sheila – and in mourning her death, he decides to invite his Hollywood “friends” over to his yacht for a “game”…

great James Coburn movie

“The Last Of Sheila” is a great murder-mystery, and I won’t share more plot details to avoid giving anything away. But the cast clearly is having a ball making fun of real life Hollywood figures. Dyan Cannon plays a powerful Agent – in real life, Cannon was married to Cary Grant in the 60’s – and she relishes her role here – if you’ve ever heard of the legendary Super Agent Sue Mengers, wait until you see Dyan Cannon’s take on her…

dyan cannon

Raquel Raquel!

Raquel Welch was one of the biggest stars of that time – and she brings all of her sex symbol status to her role as the starlet who needs constant love and affection…

The-Last-of-Sheila-Raquel Welch

Raquel has rarely been better than she is here – and her scene with Dyan Cannon is a delicious tongue in cheek poke at Hollywood.

Cannon: [while suntanning] “I have to do 25 minutes on my stomach.”
Raquel: “To make up for the 25 minutes you spent on your back last night?”

raquel welch bikini

Richard Benjamin plays the has-been screenwriter who needs a job – so he spends far too much time sucking up to James Coburn…and he has a few secrets of his own as well…and Ian McShane stars as Raquel’s jealous husband / Manager!

McShane is part of the terrific new action film series “John Wick”, and he’s great in this film – and he;’s filming with my wife today for her TV show!

Along with the terrific cast, the location for filming is the incredible French Riviera – and these locations factor into the mystery as well!

Cannes tourism

Welcome To Cannes!

The entire “Last Of Sheila” film takes place along the French Riviera, including great locations off the coast of Cannes…

Here is some great trivia, courtesy of IMDB:

“Shooting the monastery sequence just off Cannes proved to be troublesome for Raquel Welch. Gale force winds and rain disrupted the night shoot, and Welch was reluctant to leave her Venice hotel for fear of getting stuck in the storm. “

Raquel Welch movie

“A Bit Of A Splodge!”

Raquel wasn’t a fan of the weather conditions, but she hung in there like a pro.

“This glamorous picture in the wonderful sunny Cote d’Azur has turned out to be a bit of a splodge,” Welch told a journalist. “This is not my idea of an enjoyable evening, but they’re paying you the money. I just go ahead and do it and don’t complain.”

Herbert Ross and James Coburn

Kudos Director Herbert Ross!

Herbert Ross directed “Sheila”, and this legendary Director clearly let the cast run with this great material. Herbert Ross was a brilliant Director – along with “Sheila” he directed the Oscar nominated “The Goodbye Girl”, “The Turning Point” and he did “Footloose” too!

Richard Benjamin Rules!

Richard Benjamin is the desperate Writer who boards the boat hoping that Coburn will hire him again: along with “Sheila”, he also starred in one of the most brilliant anti-war films ever made – “Catch-22!”

The book was one of the great anti-war novels – all about that “catch”:

If a Fighter Pilot is crazy, he will not have to fly combat missions; because after all, you must be crazy to fly in aerial battles, right? But once you apply to be excused from flying, that means you aren’t crazy – so you have to keep flying!

As they say in the film:

“That’s some catch, that ‘Catch-22’!”

Oh, and that film broke up the iconic duo Simon & Garfunkel!

Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968

How did “Catch-22” do that?

Read all about it by clicking by story here:

“The Last of Sheila” is a great mystery, an affectionate send up of Hollywood, an Actor’s showcase and a beautifully made mystery – check it out and let me know what you think!

I personally think it was Raquel’s most nuanced role – she really put herself out there as an Actress who wants to be known for more than her looks…we lost her last month but here’s an homage to her terrific career:

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classic unknown films

Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Art, Cult Movies, Film Fight Club, Great Films, Hollywood, Movies, Movies About Movies, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities

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20 replies

  1. Okay…I am totally creeped out by the B&W photo of Anthony Perkins.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched this based on an earlier recommendation from you and loved it! Love this whole era of films

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The best thing about this movie is that two of the most beautiful woman from that Hollywood era is in it…Raquel and Dyan!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That does look a good cast! I seem to have heard of this movie but do not recall ever seeing it! I might do so after reading this!!
    I believe McShane was also in Richard Burton’s last movie!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A film with a great cast who obviously had a lot of fun making it. And SO typical of the era too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 2/27/23 — 3/5/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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