Pete ‘n’ Tillie is a generally beautiful, touching and discreetly sentimental drama-with-comedy, starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett as two lonely near-middleagers whose courtship, marriage, breakup and reunion are told with compassion through producer Julius J. Epstein’s fine script and Martin Ritt’s delicate direction.
Based on a Peter De Vries novella, Witch’s Milk, screenplay neatly establishes the two main characters – Matthau as an awkward, pun-prone market researcher who covers his gaucheries with a sardonic veneer; and Burnett as a maturing woman beginning to harden into uneasy spinsterhood.
In particular, Burnett is the key to the film’s viability by largely playing straight man to Matthau’s ironies, so there is a smooth credible transition to the drama of later reels.
1977: Nominations: Best Supp. Actress (Geraldine Page), Adapted Screenplay