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Alan J. Pakula
Documentary film-maker Bob Saunders and his wife Carol attend a group therapy session that serves as the backdrop for the opening scenes of the film. Returning to their Los Angeles home, the newly "enlightened" couple chastise their closest friends, Ted and Alice, for not coming to grips with their true feelings. Bob insists that everyone "feel" rather than intellectualize their emotions, and Carol pronounces "that's beautiful" after anyone says anything even remotely personal. Ted and Alice humor their friends, but it is obvious that there is a good-natured sexual tension at work within the foursome. Written by
B&C&T&A is still entertaining and has a number of funny scenes. Two of my favorites are the opening scene at the Esalen Institute, and Alice's session with her psychiatrist. The cast,particularly Dyan Cannon (Best Supporting Actress- NY Film Critics)and Elliot Gould, is perfect. B&C&T&A really do seem like couples and friends. It's Natalie Wood's best adult film role, and arguably her best film performance:she's never been more natural or at ease in front of the camera. Robert Culp never had a better role or vehicle. The film marked Mazursky's directorial debut, and it's probably his best film. The final scene in front of the Riviera Hotel in Vegas, recalls the "looking" exercise at the Institute, and was influenced by the parade at end of Felini's "81/2". Therefore, I give the film an 81/2 out of 10. Rent(or buy) the DVD and listen to the commentary with Cannon,Culp,Gould and Mazursky. Did you know that Leif Garrett plays Bob and Carol's son, and that Culp's "I Spy" costar, Bill Cosby, appears briefly(don't blink) in a scene at a club? The film has aged better than Midnight Cowboy, Z, Butch Cassidy, Hello Dolly and Anne of the Thousand Days,the films nominated for Best Picture of 1969. B&C&T&A feels more representative of the 60's than The Graduate, and is definitely worth seeing.
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