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Friday, October 12, 2012

The Chapman Report (1962)

A researcher (Andrew Duggan) and his assistant (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) arrive in Los Angeles to conduct interviews with middle class women on their sex lives. The film focuses on four of the female subjects: an adulterous housewife (Shelley Winters), a frigid widow (Jane Fonda), a self destructive nymphomaniac (Claire Bloom) and a kooky artist (Glynis Johns). Based on the best seller by Irving Wallace, itself a barely disguised steal from the (then) controversial Kinsey reports, the director George Cukor has his hands tied due to studio interference and the early 1960s morality which prevents any honest examination of suburban sex. The film wants to be "daring" but is reticent to call a spade a spade. What we get is a glossy soap opera redeemed by two performances. Jane Fonda, looking Movie Star glamorous in her Orry Kelly wardrobe, has the worst written of the roles and goes down fast. Glynis Johns does her best but her character is too precious and underwritten. But Shelley Winters brings a genuine pathos to her unhappy housewife and best of all, Claire Bloom takes the mediocre material and slams through it with a terrific performance so honest and real that she shows up the rest of the film for the ineffectual effort it is. With Cloris Leachman, Ray Danton, Ty Hardin, Henry Daniell, Chad Everett, John Dehner, Roy Roberts, Corey Allen and Harold J. Stone.

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