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Male of the Species (1969)

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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »

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3 January 1969 (USA)  »

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Lauter Lügen  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Alun Owen wrote a follow up called ' Female of the Species' which was specially written for Shirley Maclaine, Faye Dunaway and Maggie Smith but this failed to go into production. See more »

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Edited from ITV Saturday Night Theatre: Emlyn (1969) See more »

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User Reviews

Battle of Words
31 December 2003 | by (Oklahoma) – See all my reviews

I saw this film twice when I was 14, in the company of my family. It was a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, and it ran a second time as a summer rerun. We recorded it on audio cassette [VHS didn't exist yet], and that tape was later stolen; however I listened to it a number of times. It was what my brother always called, "a battle of words."

Anna Calder-Marshall was a young woman whose view of the male of the species was shaped by her relationship to three examples: her father, a playboy, and an older man.

Sean Connery was excellent as a lower-class worker with no respect for women, least of all his female boss. His encounter with her becomes an anecdote to a coworker. `She says, I don't like the way you look at me. I've got to you look at you, you're the boss. She says she doesn't like the way I look at her. So I gave her one, right across the backside.'

The coworker replies, `Oh you never!'

`Are you calling me a liar, then?'

`No, no! I was only enjoyin'

You get the impression his boss really likes him and hates him at the same time. From what I can remember, a fight with his daughter occupies the rest of the act, and she leaves home.

The second act takes place at her job. Michael Caine plays a sort of reluctant playboy. He works with a man who can't leave the ladies alone, even though he's married. Every time this man gets in over his head, Caine is called in to seduce her away, and then let her down gently. He almost refuses to help with Anna's character because it has often proved a dangerous game. `And what about that last one, the one with the brother who was kinky for hatchets. You failed to tell me about him.' What Caine doesn't know is that the women in the office are tired of the game, too, and have put Anna, the ice queen into the game to hurt him.

That act is the funniest, with Caine trying to get close to her. He asks her to promise not to `glacial scrape me with those two ribbons of ice you call lips.' When she asks what's so great about kissing, anyway, he replies, `If you have to ask, you aren't doing it right.' In the end, her plan works, he falls for her, and she hurts him. But it is a hollow victory, and you can tell it hurts her, too, though I doubt she knows why.

And that leads to the comfortable older man, played by Paul Scofield, Oscar winner for A Man For All Seasons. I remember this act the least, probably because the first act had James Bond [I was 14, remember] and the second act had lots of fast, witty dialogue. But one can see the balance of the play. Scofield was the antithesis of her father - kind, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, and well-educated. He must have seemed safe, the dreaded `s' word. What I do seem to remember is that this relationship, also, did not work out. And if she left it somewhat bewildered as to why it didn't work, I seem to think she gained some balance in her life. Or was it the viewer, who watching it, gained the balance and the wisdom.

In any event, I have to agree with other reviewers I've seen on this site, that this is a very wanted film. I remember it has some of the charming early 60's television production values. While not as slickly produced as later Hallmark films, it has four strong performances and story that keeps one from noticing any flaws. At least that's how I remember it, 34 years later. I think there are a lot of us who would very much like the chance to see it again.


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