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A Delicate Balance (1973) More at IMDbPro »

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Edward Albee (play)
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Release Date:
24 June 1975 (Portugal) See more »
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.
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Golden Globe. See more »
User Reviews:
Mediocre in spite of top flight cast See more (15 total) »


  (in credits order)

Katharine Hepburn ... Agnes

Paul Scofield ... Tobias

Lee Remick ... Julia

Kate Reid ... Claire

Joseph Cotten ... Harry

Betsy Blair ... Edna

Directed by
Tony Richardson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Edward Albee  play

Produced by
Ely A. Landau .... producer
Robert A. Goldston .... supervising producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
David Watkin 
Film Editing by
John Victor-Smith 
Art Direction by
David Brockhurst 
Costume Design by
Margaret Furse 
Makeup Department
Peter Robb-King .... makeup artist
Production Management
Zelda Barron .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Terry Hodgkinson .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Bryn Siddall .... property buyer
Sound Department
Gerry Humphreys .... sound re-recording mixer
John Ireland .... dialogue editor
Simon Kaye .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Nobby Cross .... gaffer
Roy Rodhouse .... best boy
Other crew
Jonathan Burrows .... production executive
Kay Fenton .... script supervisor

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
133 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Adapted from a play by Edward Albee. The original Broadway production, starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York on Sept. 12, 1966, ran for 132 performances and was nominated for the 1967 Tony Award for the Best Play.See more »


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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Mediocre in spite of top flight cast, 3 June 2012
Author: bandw from Boulder, CO

After seeing this I tried to figure out why it is considered at all above the ordinary. The characters are: a domineering wife, a docile husband, an alcoholic sister, a daughter working on her fourth divorce, friends in a crisis of anxiety. I suppose this exaggerated mix is interesting to a playwright, but maybe not to an audience, at least to this member of the audience. My interest flagged while spending over two hours watching these unhappy people work through their long-standing problems.

Katharine Hepburn as Agnes, the wife, is, well, Katharine Hepburn. That is good as far as it goes, but her performance here seemed overly rehearsed--every body movement and spoken line struck me as anything but spontaneous. If I had not known that it was Paul Schofield as Tobias, the husband, I would not have found his performance all that remarkable. Kate Reid's performance as Claire, Agnes' alcoholic sister, might play well on stage, but here it struck me as embarrassingly overacted, perhaps exaggerated by the extreme close-ups and silly script elements like the accordion playing. Lee Remick did add some spark as Julia, the much-divorced daughter. Betsy Blair, as Edna, a supposed friend, gave little indication why Agnes and Tobias should find her of value (not sure if this was a result of her performance or the script). Joseph Cotton, as Harry, Edna's husband, turned in the most sincere performance, making me think that he has been under-appreciated as an actor.

I liked the question raised of when love for friends equals, or even trumps, inherent family bonds. This play gives credence to Robert Frost's quote, "Home is the place, when you have to go there, they have to take you in," and submits that this quote is not as nearly a given when applied to friends.

I found some character behaviors unfathomable. Consider Julia's reaction to Harry and Edna's taking over her bedroom. She was insulted by this from the beginning, but about midway through the play she went ballistic and finally flew upstairs in a rage. Later Harry reported that Julia had become hysterical and was blocking a doorway with her arms outstretched. I fully expected that in subsequent scenes Julia would be carted off to the nut house, but no, the next morning she was calm and collected. When Harry and Edna came in to the house uninvited, with the intention of moving in, they appeared to be disconnected from reality. But then overnight they became rational.

Spending time with these people would be something that I would not look forward too, but neither did I want to spend two hours with them in this movie, being confined to a house with nothing to entertain but conversation. On the other hand, I would not want to spend time with George and Martha of, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" either, but I found that movie spellbinding.

Rather than the filming of a stage play, this movie is an adaptation. No matter how director Richardson tries to break up the monotony by mixing close-ups and two shots and using different vantage points for the camera, he cannot overcome the essential staginess, particularly given Albee's stricture that his text was not to be changed. I think that the filming of a stage production of this might have been preferable, since there is no pretense there of a realistic setting. It was a delicate balance for the family in this play to stay together but the movie fails to achieve the delicate balance of turning a stage play into an engrossing movie.

I think only those who appreciate stage productions will truly appreciate this movie.

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