7.4/10
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Rachel, Rachel (1968)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 26 August 1968 (USA)
Rachel is a 35 year old school teacher who has no man in her life and lives with her mother. When a man from the big city returns and asks her out, she begins to have to make decisions about her life and where she wants it to go.

Director:

Paul Newman

Writers:

Stewart Stern (screenplay), Margaret Laurence (novel)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joanne Woodward ... Rachel Cameron
James Olson ... Nick Kazlik
Kate Harrington Kate Harrington ... Mrs. Cameron
Estelle Parsons ... Calla Mackie
Donald Moffat ... Niall Cameron
Terry Kiser ... Preacher
Frank Corsaro Frank Corsaro ... Hector Jonas
Bernard Barrow Bernard Barrow ... Leighton Siddley
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Rev. Wood
Nell Potts ... Rachel as a child
Shawn Campbell Shawn Campbell ... James
Violet Dunn Violet Dunn ... Verla
Beatrice Pons ... Florence
Dortha Duckworth ... Mae (as Dorothea Duckworth)
Simm Landres Simm Landres
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Storyline

Thirty-five year old spinster and virgin Rachel Cameron is a sad, lonely woman. She lives in the small town of Japonica, Connecticut where she grew up. She teaches second grade at Japonica Elementary School and lives with her highly demanding widowed mother (her funeral director father passed away fourteen years ago) in the same apartment above a funeral home where she grew up, despite the home now not owned by them. Rachel often uses her mother as an excuse not to do things. Rachel represses her emotions, and is prone to daydreaming to envision alternate paths for herself in certain situations if she only had the nerve to do those things. Even when Nick Kazlik, a childhood acquaintance who has returned to Japonica for a summer visit with his family, makes it clear that he wants to have fun with her while he's in town, she can't act on his request out of fear of the unknown. But after a couple of incidents with her only real friend Calla Mackie, who is a fellow teacher at the school, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If you passed her on the street you wouldn't notice her. On the screen she is unforgettable. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 August 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Jest of God See more »

Filming Locations:

Bethel, Connecticut, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kayos Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Newman confessed that making this film was not like working in Hollywood, where the grips play poker and have no idea what the movie is about. See more »

Goofs

Rachel's hair pattern changes in two continuous shots on the hospital bed. The front camera angle shows her hair in front of her ears but the side camera shows her hair behind her ears. See more »

Quotes

[Last lines]
Rachel Cameron: [Thinking] Where I'm going, anything may happen. Nothing may happen. Maybe I'll find a friend. Maybe I'll even marry a middle-aged widower and have children in my time. Most of the chances are against it, but not, I think, quite all. It may be that my children will always be temporary, never to be held. But so are everyone's. I will be afraid, always. I may be lonely, always. What will happen? What will happen?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Joanne Woodward's character's name, Rachel, is changed to Jennifer for the Italian version in order to make it sound more American See more »

Connections

Referenced in Stella (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

 
...how we carry it all with us...
2 June 2006 | by mandala-4See all my reviews

This is only the third time I've seen this film (2006), having first seen it when it came out in 1968 and again in 1975. At each of those times the movie reflected stages of transition in my own life, and that is what makes it so riveting, scarily so, even today almost 40 years after I first saw it.

This movie, like Midnight Cowboy and others, effectively demonstrates how small-town repression and childhood experiences invariably seep into our adult lives and influence them in ways not always recognizable or to our benefit. Here is a repressed girl in a repressive small town (often New England is a symbol of suffocating, inbred, isolated, deep-level collective cultural phantoms.) doing her best to essentially stay that way, despite the well-intentioned but misdirected efforts of Calla (did Estelle Parsons play the cantankerous sister in "I Never Sang for my Father"?). That church scene would make me feel downright creepy in I were conned into attending it. The flashbacks to childhood, especially the dying boy and her own experience in the basket in the mortuary prep room, are chillingly effective in conveying the grip her youth's experiences still have on her.

As for the picture the man shows Woodward, I thought it was his dead twin brother, or it could have been his son. But the phone call she later made indicated he had no family, so it's anyone's guess as who's picture it is. I still think it's the brother. And that may bring Rachel dangerously close to the hold that her childhood could still have on her.

Finally, Rachel's decision to go to Oregon (a symbol of liberation from past miasmas, a "coming into one's own light a la the free-standing Kouros, a Jungian "individuation") makes this film very satisfying to watch. We're still left wondering--how much of her baggage does she take with her? But I left thinking that she was free enough to decide that consciously and independently.


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