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Carnal Knowledge (1971)

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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 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




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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ellen Burstyn auditioned for the role of Bobbi. After seeing the finished film, however, Burstyn admitted she could not have played the role as well as Ann-Margret did. 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.
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Referenced in Seinfeld: The Trip: Part 1 (1992) See more »


Written by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Frank Sinatra
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User Reviews

The Relationships of Two Men With Women Along Thirty Years
30 September 2003 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

The plot begins with Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) and Sandy (Art Garfunkel) roommates in the university. Each one of them has a different behavior and experience with women: Jonathan is cynical, malicious, and selfish. He does not respect anybody (even his best friend is not respected) and just want to have sex. Women are objects for him. Sandy is almost the opposite of Jonathan and has a different approach with women: he is shy and respectful, he does not have much experience with women. These characteristics are presented in the film having Susan (the gorgeous Candice Bergen, the most beautiful actress of the 70's) as pivot. Then the story advances a few years and shows both of them successful in their professions and boring with their mates. The character of Susan (who married Sandy) is just occasionally mentioned and does not appear on the screen any more. Now, we see basically the relationship of Jonathan with Bobbie (the sexy Ann-Margret). Then, there is another jump in time and other relationship of Jonathan and Sandy are presented in this movie, since its essence is about relationship of men and woman having the focus mainly in Jonathan.

In 1971, I was too young to watch this movie and certainly I would not understand most of the story. Only a couple of days ago I had the chance of seeing it. It is amazing how this movie for adults has not aged. Further, it does not look like an American movie. The camera, the screenplay, it does look like European movie (maybe a little of 'Jules and Jim'). All the actors and actresses have outstanding performance, but certainly Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret are superb. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Ânsia de Amar" ("Eagerness for Love")

Note: On 18 January 2014, I saw this movie again.

21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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