The Group (1966)

Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett, Elizabeth Hartman, Shirley Knight,
The Group is a movie starring Candice Bergen, Joan Hackett, and Elizabeth Hartman. After graduating from a prestigious Eastern university, eight devoted women friends go their separate ways: one leaves for Europe, while the others...
  • 6.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Mary McCarthy, Sidney Buchman, Writer:
  • Sidney Lumet, Director:
  • Producer:
10 / 10

Wonderful Entertainment!

Widescreen, Technicolor and the best round up of girls since "The Women". What more could you ask? All the girls are great, but Jessica Walter is outstanding as she changes from self-assured sexy-romantic to a gossiping sexually repressed Bitch! No one else at that time could have played that part so beautifully. The movie addresses some women's issues that were not commonly discussed back in the 60's. Abuse, mental illness, pregnancy, drugs. Candice Bergen, Shirley Knight, Elizabeth Hartman, these are all stage trained actresses, and the lovely Joan Hackett who died much too soon but while she was here always gave a top notch performance. Script/dialogue, camera work, all first class.

7 / 10

Brilliant!!

I saw this film last night and was absolutely stunned by how excellent it was. Not only did it seem to be one of the first 'chick flicks' (sorry for anyone who hates that title) but it was incredibly brave to deal with extremly contentious issues. The colours and the costumes in the film made the film seem like a true snapshot for life for seven educated women getting by in the first half in the century. It did not shy away from the issues of sex, and mental illness which is brave for a film made over thirty years ago. I started watching this film because I couldn't sleep but ended up watching it until 2.30am defintely entertaining and possibly superior to 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'??

9 / 10

Wonderful social satire

Based on the Mary McCarthy novel about depression-era Vassar grads. First big roles for: Candice Bergen, as a snooty lesbian; Larry Hagman, young, skinny and already obnoxious; Carrie Nye (Mrs. Dick Cavett); Elizabeth Hartman, who killed herself a few years ago; exquisite Joan Hackett, who never lived up to her potential and died ridiculously young; a pre-"Soap" Richard Mulligan surprisingly convincing as the sexy bohemian cad who breaks Hackett's heart (in real life, they were married); Hal Holbrook, straight from his "Mark Twain Tonight" show; young James Broderick as a young doctor; an incredibly sexy Jessica Walter; a lusty young Shirley Knight. A must-see.

5 / 10

Considering what they had to work with . . .

Anyone who thinks that this film is anti-man is wrong; the problem is that it was adapted from a novel that is, frankly, anti-human. Mary McCarthy's novel was one long sneer at all of the women she graduated from Vasaar with and who didn't have as wonderful and fulfilling a career as she did. They're too passive or too ambitious or too flirty or, most fatally, not Mary McCarthy. At least they went to Vasaar, though, so they are better than all other human beings on earth . . .

Surprisingly, Sidney Buchman's script manages to make flawed, but sympathetic characters out of the story he had to work with. Joanna Petet is wrenching as the ambitious, well-meaning Kay, whose husband Harald would probably never live up the her standards even if he weren't already a self-pitying, alcoholic bastard. Jessica Walters is ultimately endearing as Libby, who is not quite as sophisticated as she likes to pretend she is, although smarter than she lets on, and Shirley Knight is a rock of common sense as the quiet, hard-working Polly. It was refreshing to see Candice Bergen maintain grace, poise, and femininity even while she plays a "lesbo," but that accent of her always drove me crazy. Was it supposed to be English or Scandanavian, or a relic of the Duchy of Lower Fenwick? Carrie Nye has little more than a cameo as the artist that Harald is cheating on Kay with, but she rolls her r's magnificently and plays the character with deadly comic timing. She's also one of the few characters who actually has a little fun . . .

As others have said, it takes about an hour to sort everyone out and become involved in their stories, but the time invested pays off. Considering that there are eight main characters, kudos to Buchman and director Sidney Lumet for getting things sorted out so quickly. And to Lumet for toning down his tendency towards flash in his early films to serve the characters; the resulting film is a real drama, with comic touches, not a bitchy soap-opera.

8 / 10

Took me a while to get into it...but I did

Glossy soap opera about 8 Vassar graduates of 1933. It follows their lives after college and deals with alcoholism, mental breakdowns, frigidity, beatings, adultery, child rearing, lesbianism and death.

I tried reading the book this was based on but I couldn't understand it. They kept throwing in 1930s slang and politics and lost me. This movie keeps out the slang, tones down the politics (but it is there) and came up with a good movie. Yes, it is a soap opera but well made with some great actresses and it deals with it's subjects seriously. Some of the story lines involve: Polly (Shirley Knight) falling in love with a married doctor (Hal Holbrook); Kay (Joanna Pettet) dealing with an alcoholic husband (Larry Hagman); Dottie (Joan Heckett) falling in love with a womanizer (Richard Mulligan) and Priss (Elizabeth Hartman) dealing with raising a child.

It's fascinating to see these actors so young and full of life. All the acting is good but Hartman and Knight stand out. Also Candace Bergman shows up at the beginning and the end as a lesbian--quite daring for 1966. The surprise is that she's dealt with in a very sensitive manner and not made evil.

This movie is long (150 minutes) and its cast is very big (it took me at least an hour to figure out who was who) but I ended up enjoying this and recommend it. I give it an 8.