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The Group

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Sidney Lumet

Fans of Sidney Lumet and screen adaptations of 20th-century literature may want to check outThe Group, a relatively faithful film version of Mary McCarthy's seminal post-graduate "campus" novel of the same name. The elliptical and rather familiar plot … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Sidney Lumet
1 review about The Group

Looking Back

  • Jun 23, 2010
"The Group"
Looking Back
Amos Lassen

I remember so well that "The Group" was a sensational best-selling novel that went on to be a blockbuster film that was quite controversial in the way it looked at the lives of eight Vassar graduates. Set in 1933, we meet our eight characters as they begin their lives after college. The film actually takes place between graduation and the beginning of World War II. The group includes Lakey (Candice Bergen) who reveals that she is a lesbian, Dottie (Joan Hackett) who explores sex for the first time, Priss, a compelling character, (Elizabeth Hartman), Polly (Shirley Knight), a do-gooder, Kay (Joanna Pettet) the leader, Pokey, (Mary-Robin Redd) providing humor, Libby, clueless, (Jessica Walter), and Helena, our narrator, (Kathleen Widdoes). We watch as they search for love and happiness while they continue to stay in touch with each other. We see that Kay is the leader and the subplots are everywhere. Unfortunately the script is somewhat superficial and it misses the satire that was in the novel written by Mary McCarthy and what we get instead is a soap opera.
Some of the topics covered are lesbianism, frigidity, abortion, mental illness and contraception none of which is shocking now. However, in 1966 when the movie was released, it was considered to be quite controversial.
The cast is uniformly quite good and some of the performances are quite memorable. The men do not fare well though. The most interesting character is Lakey but she has the least screen time. What rewatching this film did to me was to question why I had so loved it when I first saw it and felt ambivalence now. Like everything else times change and "The Group" stayed the same. Sidney Lumet directed and his name was once magic but the movie is more novel than Lumet.
I am glad that we now have the movie on DVD (an Amazon exclusive) because it shows how far we have come and while I no longer love the film, I did find it interesting.

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