In 1951, at the Sea Shadows Inn on the Mendocino County coast, Doris (Ellen Burstyn), a 24-year-old housewife from Oakland, meets George (Alan Alda), a neurotic 27-year-old accountant from New Jersey at dinner.
They have a sexual tryst, then agree to meet once a year to rekindle the spark they experienced at their first meeting, despite the fact that both are happily married (her to Harry, him to Helen) with six children between them.
Over the next 26 years, they develop an emotional intimacy during their annual clandestine meetings and discuss births, deaths (including the death of George’s son Michael in Vietnam) and the marital problems each experience at home.
At their meeting in 1977, George tells Doris that his wife, Helen, died of cancer earlier in the year and that she revealed to a friend that she had known of his affair for ten years, but never told George she knew.
Now a widower, George proposes to Doris who refuses to accept because of her loyalty to, and respect for, Harry.
Rejected, George leaves for good – but he returns and they promise to continue the affair as long as they are able.
Based on a Broadway play, Same Time Next Year was filmed at the Heritage House Inn (a well-known resort and bed & breakfast establishment) in Little River, California, seven miles south of Mendocino.