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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Group (1966)

Based on the Mary McCarthy 1963 best selling novel, the film follows eight young female graduates of an East Coast exclusive women's college in 1933 through 1940 and the outbreak of war in Europe. Solidly directed by Sidney Lumet, the film is bolstered by the fine work by the eight actresses whose characters cover a broad spectrum across the political, cultural and social scale. Some like Joanna Pettet as the neurotic doomed Kay, Shirley Knight as the fragile Polly and Jessica Walter as the frigid, unfeeling bitch of the group are prominent through out the story while others like Candice Bergen (in her film debut) as the group's lesbian and Mary Robin Redd as the chubby rich girl have limited screen time. The other girls are played by Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman and Kathleen Widdoes. The men, with one exception (James Broderick as a caring doctor), represent the worst case scenarios of the male species from wife beaters (Larry Hagman) to wimpy, indecisive weaklings (Hal Holbrook). Gene Callahan's production design and Anna Hill Johnstone's costumes do an excellent job of conveying the 1930s. The cinematography is by Boris Kaufman (ON THE WATERFRONT). With Robert Emhardt, Richard Mulligan, Leora Dana, Carrie Nye and James Congdon.

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