7.2/10
3,488
47 user 24 critic

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

A wealthy woman from Manhattan's Upper East Side struggles to deal with her new identity and her sexuality after her husband of 16 years leaves her for a younger woman.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Charlie
Patricia Quinn ...
Sue (as Pat Quinn)
...
Elaine
...
Patti
Linda Miller ...
Jeannette
Andrew Duncan ...
Bob
Daniel Seltzer ...
Dr. Jacobs
...
Phil
Penelope Russianoff ...
Tanya
Novella Nelson ...
Jean
...
Edward
Ivan Karp ...
Herb Rowan
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Storyline

Erica is unmarried only temporarily in that her successful, wealthy husband of seventeen years has just left her for a girl he met while buying a shirt in Bloomingdale's. The film shows Erica coming to terms with the break-up while revising her opinions of herself, redefining that self in its own right rather than as an extension of somebody else's personality, and finally going out with another man. Erica refuses to drop everything for Saul, an abstract expressionist painter, simply out of love for him because he expects her to. It is not so much loneliness that is her problem, and the problems that men, flitting around this newly "available" woman like moths round a flame, bring to her sense of independence. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She laughs, she cries, she feels angry, she feels lonely, she feels guilty, she makes breakfast, she makes love, she makes do, she is strong, she is weak, she is brave, she is scared, she is... an unmarried woman.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

26 May 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Una mujer descasada  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Due to delays in filming Luna (1979), actress Jill Clayburgh missed attending a number of awards ceremonies for which she had been nominated for An Unmarried Woman (1978). Around the same time, dubbing sessions for Luna (1979) had to be postponed until Clayburgh had finished work on Starting Over (1979). See more »

Goofs

During Erica's second visit to Tanya, the plants behind Erica change places with each shot. For straight ahead shots of only Erica, the small cactus is on the right. In angled shots, showing both women, the small cactus is on the left. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Martin and Erica are jogging along the river]
Martin: Jesus Christ! Look at this - my sneaker's ruined!
Erica: They're only thirty-five dollars.
[Erica takes Martin's shoe and cleans it off for him]
Martin: Fucking city's turning into one big pile of DOG SHIT!
[shouting at passing traffic]
Martin: Come on out and take a crap on me - everybody else is. Fuck.
[Martin lights a cigarette]
Erica: ...been jogging for 2 1/2 miles - you're giving yourself lung cancer.
[...]
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Crazy Credits

For Betsy See more »


Soundtracks

Swan Lake, Op.20
(1877) (uncredited)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Excerpts danced by Jill Clayburgh
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User Reviews

 
The Film Hasn't Dated, But I Have
16 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When upon its theatrical release I first saw 'An Unmarried Woman' I thought it brilliantly captured the feminist outlook - not the radical feminist viewpoint but the growing awareness of the vast majority of ordinary women of new modalities for living. I just saw it again on DVD and my first impression of the film holds up. But through my having aged my perspectives have matured, and now I also find 'An Unmarried Woman' to be perhaps the finest capturing of 1977's zeitgeist - but only the zeitgeist of upper middle class New Yorkers (Mazursky better captured the wider 70's zeitgeist in 'Harry and Tonto).

Here Mazursky shows that, whatever else he is accused of being or doing or not-doing (with which I don't always agree or disagree), is a thoughtful director taking a good, long, realistic look at this drama and at more than just its central character. I liked that some scenes ran on for a bit longer than some people find necessary or comfortable, because this is how life's scenes often play out beyond one's wanting them to end swiftly and tidily: indeed, the slight overrunning of some scenes contributes what today might be called "value-added" realism to 'An Unmarried Woman.' After all, Erica has, involuntarily, been thrust into a new life in which she's not at ease in every one of its developing, novel situations.

The saxophone score - probably considered hip in 1977 - is today often more than a trifle annoying; but then it could be said that the score is part of the film's capture of the 70's zeitgeist: like all decades the 70's had its annoyances (not the least of which was the dismal monotony of disco, and all those decor-saturating browns, olives (avocado it was called!), honey-golds, and tawny oranges).

The cinematography here is quite good, nicely tailored to the film's intimate subject, situations, and relationships. Throughout the acting is uniformly good; Jill Clayburgh's effort here is, and will remain I expect, a cinema original and classic. I especially enjoyed - not when I first saw the film but much more so now in 2006 - Cliff Gorman's portrayal of self-satisfied, on-the-make Charlie. Andrew Duncan in the minor role of Bob lends great verisimilitude with his pre-"hair systems" comb-over but especially with the touch of about-to-be-over-the-hill despair in Bob's attempt to bed Erica; Bob demonstrates that most men in that decade, beginning as they were to be flummoxed by emerging liberated women and feminism, still clung to the suddenly obsolescent notion that a divorcée would and should be eager to remarry in order to traditionally assure her security and peace of mind.

At my first viewing I agreed with what Tanya, Erica's therapist, said to Erica about guilt being a manufactured, unnecessary emotion. But a good many more years of living have taught me that guilt is not manufactured, and that without it a person is doomed to emptiness and isolation, and a society is doomed to decadence, and even to barbarism. Rather Tanya should have held that guilt is natural, and that it is one's mature management of it that enables one to distinguish, in oneself and in others, venality and narcissism from generosity of spirit.

'An Unmarried Woman' still stands on its own - more as a socio-cultural than as a cinematic landmark. It's that rare kind of film that's worth watching every five or ten years, if only to help us to recall where we've come from, and to help us to profit from, or to enjoy, a sense of where we might be going.


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