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A Delicate Balance (1973)

 -  Drama  -  April 1976 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 375 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 11 critic

A well-to-do Connecticut family is upended when the grown daughter's godparents, seized by a nameless terror, decide they've come to live with them.



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Title: A Delicate Balance (1973)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »





Cast overview:


In Connecticut, Agnes and Tobias are an upper-class married couple whose relationship has been uneasy for many years, since at least the time their son died; but they've managed to find a certain comfortable pattern of uneasiness. Agnes's sister, Claire, lives with them and insists that her perpetual drinking is not alcoholism but willfulness. Their daughter, Julia, poised to have her fourth divorce, has come back home. Unexpectedly, her room has been taken over by Harry and Edna, best friends of Tobias and Agnes. Seized by a nameless terror that propelled them out of their own house, Harry and Edna have decided to stay. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The sister who drank too much. The daughter who divorced too much. They're all there when Tobias and Agnes have their little get-together and tear-apart.




PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

April 1976 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Delicate Balance  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Hume Cronyn was nominated for the 1967 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "A Delicate Balance" as the character Tobias. See more »

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User Reviews

Best For Albee's Text and Some Performances
16 December 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fans of Edward Albee and Katharine Hepburn will find things to savor in this haphazard filming of the marvelous prize-winning play. But it's not always easy. Based on the slapdash direction, the piece looks as is the actors spent the requisite time rehearsing the play itself, and then the filming was done quickly and cheaply.

There are a series of generally long takes, but the staging looks more suitable for a proscenium stage than a film. And this is what separates a mediocre talent like Richardson from, say, Mike Nichols who did a far better job dealing with a (largely) confined space in the film of "Virginia Woolf." The result is that "Balance" comes off as stagy - a more inventive director could have avoided that without changing one line of the text.

"Balance" consists of a lot of mid-shots and close-ups, which doesn't serve all the actors well. This is particularly true of Kate Reid who plays the alcoholic sister Clare - Reid's performance might work well on stage, but with all her tight closeups during long speeches, she tends to overplay and make the character more gratingly tiresome than she should be.

The other casualty in the cast is Lee Remick, as the volatile, childish, much-married daughter of Hepburn and Scofield. But in her case it's Albee's writing that's the problem. This character is poorly conceived and developed - and no actress I know of has managed to make it palatable.

But Hepburn is in excellent form as the proud matriarch Agnes - perhaps a little more coarse at times than Albee intended, but very effective. Scofield as her passive-aggressive husband Tobias is marvelous until he mars his important penultimate scene with too many actorish vocal tricks.

Joseph Cotton and Betsy Blair as the old friends who come to Agnes and Tobias to escape the terror of collective loneliness are both good individually, but never seem to be a long-married couple.

Those not familiar with this play may be slightly turned off by the presentation and think the piece itself is second-rate. Not so. This film may be best for those who have seen it before or are familiar enough with Albee to take the film with a grain of salt and appreciate what's good about it.

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