Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1971. Vectia, Vic Films Productions. Screenplay by Penelope Gilliatt. Cinematography by Billy Williams. Produced by Joseph Janni. Music by Ron Geesin. Production Design by Luciana Arrighi. Costume Design by Jocelyn Rickards. Film Editing by Richard Marden. Academy Awards 1971.Golden Globe Awards 1971.
Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch have nothing in common except two things in this British drama: they both use the same answering service and they’re both sleeping with Murray Head. Jackson’s a divorced career gal who enjoys Head’s sexy, boisterous energy but also longs for something deeper, something she knows she’ll never get while he’s moving back and forth between her and Finch. Finch is a family doctor who is devotedly in love with Head but has no idea where to place his feelings or what to demand from him. The film follows their triangular relationship for just over a week until emotional development forces them all to make some changes. This intelligent and introspective film might not be active enough for some viewers, but there’s a lot to take from the characters and the overall mood that director John Schlesinger so brilliantly creates. Films on the subject (boys who kiss boys!) were almost never given such frank treatment in the early seventies (and rarely are now), so if for nothing else, it should be viewed as a time capsule curiosity (that sadly did not bear any fruit when Schlesinger made the latently homophobic and generally idiotic The Next Best Thing almost thirty years later). Both Jackson and Finch are magnificent, and Head is terrific opposite them both. For anybody who likes old musicals, the operator working the answering service is played by Bessie Love, star of MGM’s The Broadway Melody, which was the first talkie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and one of the milestones in movie musical history. Also look for a teenaged Daniel Day-Lewis, briefly appearing in his film debut.