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Carnal Knowledge (1971)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 October 1971 (Argentina)
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The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, those lives which are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperament, especially in ... See full summary »



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Title: Carnal Knowledge (1971)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Sandy (as Arthur Garfunkel)
Cynthia O'Neal ...


The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, those lives which are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperament, especially in relation to the respective women who end up in their lives. Their story begins in the late 1940s when they are roommates attending Amherst College together. Both virgins, they discuss the type of woman they would each like to end up with. Sandy, the more sensitive of the two, meets Susan at a mixer, she who he believes is going to be the one to who he will lose his virginity. Sandy goes through the process methodically, taking into account what he thinks Susan wants, but without much true passion or romance. Jonathan, the more sexually aggressive of the two, ends up losing his virginity first to "Myrtle", who ends up being a steady but hidden girlfriend. Based on what each knows of the other's relationship, both Jonathan and Sandy strive for a little more of what the other has. These relationships also set... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | sex | friend | college | virginity | See All (89) »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1971 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Conocimiento carnal  »

Box Office


$28,623,900 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The fight scene between Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret took a week to shoot, and at the end of it both performers had lost their voices. See more »


[first lines]
Jonathan: If you had a choice...
Sandy: Yeah?
Jonathan: Would you rather love a girl, or have her love you?
Sandy: I want it mutual.
Jonathan: I mean if you couldn't have it mutual.
Sandy: You mean would I rather be the one who loves, or is loved?
Jonathan: Yeah.
Sandy: It's not that easy a question. But, I think I'd rather be in love.
Jonathan: Me too.
See more »


Referenced in The Wonder Years: Carnal Knowledge (1992) See more »


Moonlight Serenade
Written by Glenn Miller
Performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
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User Reviews

Hi!!! Would You Like To Have Sex!!!!!
20 August 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie is one of the most accurate reflections of the sixties' sexual revolution, as well as perennial sexual ambiguity throughout someone's entire adult existence! It's about knowing that there are no strings attached, and that it is, in fact, just sexual intercourse and nothing else!! All is fine and good except one thing....YOU GOT MARRIED!!!!...Now enters the commitment, or shall I say, lack of it...There is a cynical outlook on each other.....The verbal abuse that is the end result of a relationship that has nothing but sex to offer, serves as an acrimonious aftermath to everyone's insincerity!! Some people (Ann Margaret) give up in life....Some people (Art Garfunkel) get resentful and searching...And others (Such as Jack Nicholson) remain misunderstood even to himself!! The college day's fiasco with Candace Bergen (Between Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel) should have served as a harbinger of things to come!! Instead, the hedonistic challenge casual sex provided for everybody, not only made people oblivious to the negative emotional battleground casual sex had the potential for presenting, but it established a pattern of recklessness for everybody's self centered priorities!! The prestige of being a Central Park West intellectual evokes an aura of false confidence, and it is evident that New York City merely spreads out the welcome mat for adversity before most any place else!! All of these theatrics simply translate to callous gratification! This is a film where people talk to one another, but it doesn't work out......So they have sex, they know they will grow tired of it, but when this occurs, they can't accept it either!!! Popular scapegoats seem to be; confusion, idealistic notions which have turned to blatant misconceptions, a distasteful awakening with selfishness, and disgruntled generalizations that "Women are all ball-busters!!" (Not just independent!!) It becomes a living nightmare for all of the characters concerned to distinguish between casual sex, and apathetic hobby!!! All of them are isolated by the negative consequences of casual sex!!! Jack Nicholson's condescension from a sex surrogate (Rita Moreno) denounces meagerness, and thus, becomes a form of precarious vindication which will give the movie audience a thorough comprehension of the type of person Jack Nicholson's character is, and always will be too!! Mike Nichols is a fabulous director, and this film is compelling in it's ability to tell the truth!!! The camera angles in this movie are spectacular! This film is very controversial for the time it was made because it brought to the attention of the movie viewer that the erroneous perceptions about recreational sex, and the truth about recreational sex are about as compatible a mixture as oil and water!! Nobody in this movie had any compunction about throwing necessary caution to the wind! The depiction of such people in "Carnal Knowledge" was very astute! Above all else with regards to this film, recognize the amazing array of talent this movie possesses!!

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