[Walter Matthau] was at the lunch and noted that he had known [MARTIN RITT] for 41 years, since they were both young actors in New York. Ritt, he said, was "the best American he'd ever known," with no patience with "the dogmas of any labeled group." His career was marked by "his persistence in the pursuit of fair play." And, Matthau added, Ritt would never settle for a cheap laugh to accommodate any actor. "That's why I can't stand him," Matthau said affectionately.
She was so eager to work with Ritt again that when she formed her own production company, Fogwood, she undertook a search for material and eventually located a Max Schott novella that Ritt and the Ravetches liked and that became "Murphy's Romance," with [Sally Field] herself as executive producer.
Ritt, who lets his films speak for him, has said "the audience shouldn't be aware of the director's work until the film is over." Although he began as an actor after two years of law school, Ritt is not eager for a high profile. Taking the podium after the flow of uncommonly affectionate and admiring tributes, Ritt said, "There's not a hell of a lot I can say," and essentially didn't, to a standing ovation.