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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Carnal Knowledge (1971)

Beginning in the late 1940s and going through the 1960s, two friends' (Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel) lives are played out through their relationship with women. Directed by Mike Nichols from an original screenplay (though originally written as a play) by Jules Feiffer, this was a controversial and startlingly frank film when it opened in 1971. In 1972, it was seized from a theater in Georgia and its manager jailed for distributing "obscene material" and the case went all the way up the Supreme Court where it was declared not obscene and Georgia had overstepped its bounds. While its frankness has lost some of its edge in 2017, it still remains a potent examination of male misogyny as its two protagonists simply don't get it and view women through hostile sexual attitudes. Although Garfunkel's character is somewhat more enlightened, he remains essentially a sexist. The acting is impeccable. Nicholson was on a streak in the 1970s and this remains one of his 4 or 5 all time best performances though if anyone steals the film, it's Ann-Margret as the pathetic model who finds her life going down the drain during her toxic relationship with Nicholson. With Candice Bergen (finally showing her acting chops), Rita Moreno, Carol Kane and Cynthia O'Neal.

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