The Star-Spangled Girl is a comedy written by Neil Simon. The play, set in the San Francisco in the 1960s, concerns three characters: Andy, Norman and Sophie. The original Broadway cast featured Anthony Perkins as Andy, Richard Benjamin as Norman and Connie Stevens as Sophie. It opened on Broadway on December 21, 1966 at the Plymouth Theatre and ran 261 performances.
The story is a love triangle, mixed with politics. Andy and Norman are radicals who barely make a living working on their magazine, Fallout, which is dedicated to fighting "the system" in America. Sophie, a former Olympic swimmer, is an all-American, Southern girl who moves into the apartment next door. It's love at first sight (or, as the play has it, first smell) for Norman, but his feelings are not reciprocated. Norman's obsession with Sophie makes Andy hire her just to keep the magazine going. Then Sophie falls for Andy, though they are at odds politically, threatening to destroy the magazine and the men's friendship.
The play was inspired by a political argument Simon witnessed between liberal writer Paddy Chayefsky and a conservative woman. While it features Simon's lively comic style--still on display on Broadway in Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple when The Star-Spangled Girl debuted--it was not well-received. Critic Walter Kerr memorably wrote "Neil Simon didn't have an idea for a play this year, but he wrote it anyway." Simon concurred, feeling it was one of his weakest works. There were laughs, but to many the plot seemed unbelievable and the characters contrived. Furthermore, while Simon could write about people--especially New Yorkers--he seemed out of his element writing about politics.
The original production was directed by playwright George Axelrod. Perhaps sensing trouble, Mike Nichols, who had directed Simon's previous two smashes, and would direct his next big hit, Plaza Suite, did not accept the assignment.
The play was adapted into a movie in 1971. Jerry Paris directed and the screenplay was by Arnold Margolin and Jim Parker. The leads are Tony Roberts as Andy, Todd Susman as Norman and Sandy Duncan as Amy--renamed from Sophie. It was no better received than the play. The movie also features Davy Jones singing "Girl," which he also sang in an episode of The Brady Bunch.