Title: The Pumpkin Eater
Director: Jack Clayton
Music: Georges Delerue
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
After the broodingly sterling mental-horror work THE INNOCENTS (1961), director Jack Clayton, whose prestige is quite underrated, switches to a slow-paced, in-door drama, which delineates the turbulent experience of a 3rd-time married woman trapped in a multi-children marriage (8 to be specific).
The film has a more manifest achievement is to testify what an electrifying actress Ms. Bancroft was. Due to the less popularity of the film and the recent “past-year-winner” laurel (for THE MIRACLE WORKER 1962), sadly but true she didn’t win an Oscar for her tour-de-force performance (lost to Julie Andrews in MARY POPPINS). In the film she dominates every frame with an unbending willpower to embody her character through every line and every perceivable movement, a perfect-pitched textbook triumph.
Peter Finch, a commonplace womanizer under the disguise of a commonplace congenial father and screenplay writer, although inevitably eclipsed by his wife in the film, also manages a spot-on job. Dame Maggie Smith, whose unexpected advert is an interesting cameo, such a delightedly spiteful case (I haven’t seen her role in her youth before). Also Yootha Joyce’s OTT jealous woman in the hair salon, gives a spine-chilling terror, by comparison, James Mason, a third-billed name, actually has a pretty limited presence.
The chief glitch of the film is that in several instances the cast is tediously repeating the same lines as if it is not annoying enough for just one stroke (screenplay written by Harold Pinter, adapted from Penelope Mortimer’s novel), which is a bit unbearable. The ending of a reconciled harmony between the aliened couple, which seemed like a compromised concession on the spot, but an afterthought assessment would probably reckon it as a great mockery to the modern monogamy marriage system.
ps: The film does make the endorsement of emphasizing the importance of condoms, the most essential invention from 20th century, without peers.