The Ten-Year Lunch: Wit and Legend of the Algonquin Round Table

Director: Aviva Slesin

Institute History

  • 1990 Sundance Film Festival


One of the best documentaries of 1988, joyous and vivid, The Ten-Year Lunch celebrates the legendary wits who lunched regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City during the 1920s. The core of the Round Table group included short-story and verse writer Dorothy Parker; comic actor and writer Robert Benchley; The New Yorker founder and editor Harold Ross: columnist and social reformer Heywood Broun; critic Alexander Woollcott; and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Conneny. Edna Ferber and Robert Sherwood.

The film introduces the Round Tablers as young hopefuls, outspoken and outrageous, all the more so because they knew they would be quoted by each other in the next day's newspapers. Individually they soon achieved the success each was striving for, and collectively they changed the face of American humor. A few samples. Dorothy Parker: "I require three things In a man: he must be handsome. ruthless and stupid." Robert Benchley: ''I've got to get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini." Edna Ferber: "Being an old maid is like death by drowning: not an altogether unpleasant sensation after you cease to struggle." And George S. Kaufman, in a telegram to an actor he had directed: "I am watching your performance from the rear of the house. Wish you were here."

The Ten-Year Lunch won the 1988 Academy Award for best feature-length documentary.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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