Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo's three... See full summary »
Paul Gregory is sprung from jail in London by his accomplice after getting a stretch as expected for robbing a woman who falls for his charms. Only he knows how to get to the money, but his... See full summary »
A Cockney con-artist just out of prison replaces an insurance company's computer programmer and sends claim checks to himself in various guises at addresses all over Europe. Meanwhile, he ... See full summary »
Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, "Volpone," 20th-century millionaire Cecil Fox devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying. ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
After yet another smash-and-grab goes wrong, a bungling trio of small-time crooks flash an idea of using a fire engine as a getaway vehicle. But they keep being mistaken for genuine firemen and it starts to become a flaming nuisance.
Film screenwriter Jake Armitage and his wife Jo Armitage live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo's three marriages, with only the youngest being Jake's biological child, although he treats them all as his own. Jo left her second husband Giles after meeting Giles' friend Jake, the two who were immediately attracted to each other. Their upper middle class life is much different than Giles and Jo's, who lived in a barn in the English countryside. But Jo is ruminating about her strained marriage to Jake, with issues on both sides. Jo suspects Jake of chronic infidelity, she only confronting him with her suspicions whenever evidence presents itself. And Jo's psychiatrist believes that Jo uses childbirth as a rationale for sex, which he believes she finds vulgar. These issues in combination have placed Jo in a fragile mental state. They both state that they love the other, but neither really seems to like ... Written by
The film never explains its title, which refers to a traditional child's rhyme: "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater/Had a wife, but couldn't keep her;/So he put her in a shell/And there he kept her very well." This serves as the epigraph of Penelope Mortimer's original novel. See more »
The long tracking shot near end of film (in which camera begins on Jo smoking in bed, then winds through closeups of mementos in her living room) was shot backward; at beginning of shot smoke is going into her cigarette, not out of it. See more »
Realistic and Disturbing Portrait of a Bad Marriage
This is my absolute favorite film of all time, and Anne Bancroft's performance is her best. Made in 1964 and set in London, this film tells the story of a woman who is in the middle of her third marriage, to a screenwriter, played by Peter Finch. Her character, Jo Armitage, is a woman who truly seems to find her self-worth and happiness only when she is pregnant and raising children. Once her children become even only slightly older, she seems to lose her sense of purpose, and allows herself to become quite isolated in the world. Her current husband, the screenwriter, doesn't make matters any better for her either.
This is definitely Anne Bancroft's film all the way, and she is breathtakingly beautiful in it as well. Her portrayal of Jo Armitage paints a very lonely, depressed, lost, and in many ways pathetic character...but it is also strangely my favorite performance of Bancroft. Look also for wonderful supporting performances by James Mason and Maggie Smith. This film weaves a disturbing yet very realistic portrait of a bad marriage (some might just say "marriage"), and it should be studied for its acting and its writing. In addition, Georges Delerue's musical score is superb, and I am always searching for the film's soundtrack, but have had no luck. Thanks to beautiful art direction by Edward Marshall, their home interior is also gorgeous...'60's chic. I've seen this film at least 60 times, and never tire of it. It's a quiet little masterpiece.
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