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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 overview, first billed only:
Patricia Quinn ...
Sue (as Pat Quinn)
Linda Miller ...
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?


Film debut of David Rasche in a small, uncredited role. See more »


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 »


[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 Glee: Makeover (2012) See more »


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

The Awful Life of a Post Divorcée Living in a Fabulous Apartment.
24 May 2005 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

Oh, boy.

It's sometimes seems too easy a shot to hit a movie like "An Unmarried Woman" almost thirty (30!!!) years after it's release and on the grounds that it depicts a charmed life that is hit with a crisis like the one depicted here. But that's my case. I don't have an issue with some of the dialog which others have stated seems so "70s". I lived through that era so maybe it doesn't seem or sound so archaic to me. "An Unmarried Woman" was a BIG movie back in 1978. It received almost universal praise and Clayburgh's performance catapulted her out of her supporting roles and in into the realm of 1st rate actresses like Fonda. A lot of the praise for her is deserved.

What gets me is the depiction of her crisis while living in a pretty awesome upper east side Manhattan apartment. I'm not saying that people in the upper middle class don't have problems and issues but their depiction in a movie that is supposed to have some universal value seems superficial and ignorant. What are we supposed to think? "Awwww, the poor dear...her husband's run off and left her?" Well, she still has the great apartment, the sensitive, intellectually aware daughter for support as well as a swell gaggle of female friends to hang and bitch with. Sorry, but the movie simply doesn't cut it as tragedy at all. This woman is still able to do a lot of things AND go to therapy! And I haven't even gotten to the BIG BEAR of an artist she ends up with and then turns down his proposal! Oye, does SHE have problems that most people would kill to have! How about a movie about an unmarried woman trying to make ends meet in a lower class neighborhood in Brooklyn? Too downbeat, right? Betcha that woman won't have time to hang with her friends and do therapy. OK, how about a working class woman from New Jersery? No? Not enough fabulousness in a split ranch or cape code home? That's why it's so tricky doing a drama about people "finding" themselves amidst a personal or emotional crisis. You cannot show one person as an example of all experiences. And Hollywood tends to go to ones like these where the people are way, way better off financially than most people in these situation. The reality is that it's much easier to overcome these kinds of emotional issues when you've got $$$ as "An Unmarried Woman" so acutely demonstrates. But what it fails to realize is how narrow their view is. We're supposed to see how great it is to find oneself but the feeling I got was "yeah, it's great to find yourself when your life after the separation really wasn't that bad." The narrow mindedness of this film is almost infuriating if it weren't for the fluid direction and the good acting by everyone.

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