6.9/10
1,557
34 user 11 critic

The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams... See full summary »

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Storyline

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams - a kooky, lonely misfit with no family and no place to go, insists on calling all those who won't participate in her world, "weirdos," clings to a quiet studious Jerry, who has the ability to make a choice of living in Pookie's private little world or be accepted by the society that Pookie rejects. Unwittingly, it is through their awkward relationship that Pookie actually prepares Jerry for the world of "weirdos" that she doesn't fit into or wish to be apart of. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

First love is beautiful hurt....if it happens to you once, you're lucky.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

22 October 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pookie  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,982,357
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alan J. Pakula recalled that Liza Minnelli became very attached to him as a father-figure on the set, always asking Pakula to tell her the story's plot in child-like terms before a big scene was to be shot. He also said that Liza carried around the book by John Nichols "like a Bible" until she knew the character of Pookie Adams inside and out. See more »

Goofs

The film's penultimate shot, that of Pookie looking out the bus window, was shot with the camera attached to the outside of the moving bus, but no one apparently thought about the trees lining the street behind the camera. The visual is shaken for a second after tree branches inadvertently brush up against the equipment. See more »

Quotes

'Pookie' Adams: Some people guzzle God like He was a keg of beer.
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Connections

Featured in And the Oscar Goes To... (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Greensleeves
(uncredited)
Traditional English song
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User Reviews

 
Loneliness...
17 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

This is one of the few films I've seen in which every shot represents the theme and overall feeling of the film. No matter whether Minnelli's Pookie and Burton's Jerry are together as a couple, in a crowd, or completely alone, a sense of loneliness pervades the situation. To achieve this Pakula uses several long shots of the characters, or, during the party scene, he has Pookie and Jerry on separate levels of the staircase, staring up or down at each other from a distance. From the very first shot we see this, with Pookie and her father walking to a bench and then sitting there waiting, in an extremely long take that spans the entire opening credits. In representing the awkwardness of a first sexual experience, another extremely long take is used, in which Jerry disrobes Pookie, take off each piece of clothing one by one, hanging them up in the closet or folding them properly, then doing the same for himself, and within this the loneliness is established in Pookie's great enthusiasm to "get in the sack" and Jerry's calculated attempts at making the experience romantic, which are completely unromantic. Even McIntire's small role as Charlie plays an important part in the representation of the loneliness, as he assumes that Jerry is a virgin, like he is, thinking he confide this is in Jerry because they have it in common, which they don't. Minnelli's acting in this excellent, probably on the same par as her role in Bob Fosse's "Cabaret." This is also one of the few films I have actually not just felt sad about, but actually did cry at. I believe this is a very well-made film, and it deserves a higher rating than it has on here. The subjects it deals with are not trivial in the least, they are an important part of life, and the ending is perfect in proving this. It is very realistic in the psychological portrayal of its characters, which is a very difficult thing to pull off. I have not read the book, but I am sure the characters are established just as well in this film adaptation. Although it is a sad film to watch, Pakula hooks us right away with Pookie's outrageous personality, and although, like Jerry, we feel she is annoying person, even if she is friendly, we cannot stop listening to her and watching her, and when she is not in a scene we feel something is lacking. So, rather quickly, we begin to enjoy her character and what it brings to the film, just as Jerry begins to enjoy her company and she helps him learn to enjoy his life and be more outgoing, even though, in the end, this works against Pookie. I feel this film has been highly overlooked, and I definitely recommend it, even with the sad ending it brings. By the end of the film I had fallen in love with Pookie, and this is what makes it such a strong film.


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