An Unmarried Woman (1978)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  26 May 1978 (France)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,132 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 25 critic

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 overview, first billed only:
Patricia Quinn ...
Sue (as Pat Quinn)
Lisa Lucas ...
Linda Miller ...
Andrew Duncan ...
Daniel Seltzer ...
Dr. Jacobs
Penelope Russianoff ...
Ivan Karp ...
Herb Rowan


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


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.


Comedy | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 May 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Una mujer descasada  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay and the prestigious Best Picture but failed to win any. See more »


Erica orders white wine at the bar. She is given red wine and sips it. When she joins friends at their table, her wine is white. See more »


[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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Betsy See more »


Referenced in Parenthood: The Ring (2013) See more »


Maybe I'm Amazed
(1970) (uncredited)
Written by Paul McCartney
Performed by Jill Clayburgh and Lisa Lucas
See more »

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User Reviews

Watershed moment in the history of 'women's films'
8 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

Moving tale of a middle-class Manhattan housewife's struggle for independence after her husband leaves her for another woman.

The wonderful Paul Mazursky created this 1978 landmark slaute to women's liberation and the film wipes the floor with the messy urban horror of 1977's Looking for Mr. Goodbar: Goodbar's makers ultimately had no respect for their female protagonist but Mazursky scores in his depiction of female self-respect and love.

Jill Clayburg's miraculous performance as Erica was snubbed at the Academy Awards in favor of Jane Fonda's more 'tolerable' female in Coming Home but if you look closely you'll see there's no comparison and Clayburg hits all the right notes while displaying Erica's overwhelmingly complex feelings. Perhaps Erica's unique strength was too much for many male Academy members so they rewarded the typical moony-eyed housewife character instead. Regardless of that, Clayburg makes a brilliant lead and her lonely journey through New York-chic (art exhibits, bars, therapists, narcisstic artists) makes for great viewing. (The very brief encounters Erica has with a handsome blonde man at the coatcheck before and after she's been hit with the news from her husband are a nice touch!) There's a rare level of intimacy between the actors in all of the scenes but especially the girl group talks: the words sound surprisingly like they belong to the actors and Mazursky's ear for dialogue is sharp and refreshingly to-the-point.

Michael Murphy as the wayward husband, Alan Bates as the new love interest, and Cliff Gorman -whom I last saw as the bitchy, effeminate in The Boys in the Band!- as a male chauvinist provide exceptional support as the men in Erica's life. The only thing that marres the beauty of this film is its awful, piercingly shrill, '70's saxophone musical score.

20 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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