7.2/10
3,658
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:
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Charlie
Patricia Quinn ...
Sue (as Pat Quinn)
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Elaine
...
Patti
Linda Miller ...
Jeannette
...
Bob
Daniel Seltzer ...
Dr. Jacobs
...
Phil
Penelope Russianoff ...
Tanya
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Jean
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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  »

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Technical Specs

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Press materials for this movie featured the film's "an unmarried woman" title logo in lower-case letters with a picture of a ring (symbolizing divorce) forming the letter "O" in the title's last word. See more »

Goofs

Erica tells Martin they've had sex around 2000 times (twice a week for 16yrs). Before having sex with Charlie, she tells him that she's only slept with 1 man in the past 17 years. 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.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Betsy See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sex: The Revolution: Tainted Love (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

An Unmarried Woman
Lyrics By Michelle Wiley
Arranged By Jerry Peters
Music composed by Bill Conti
Vocals by Michelle Wiley
© (p) 1978, 20th Century-Fox Record Corporation
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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.


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