Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) Poster

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MicheBel24 August 1999
I love this movie. Although some people may classify it as "dated," the concepts that it deals with are worth exploring today. How honest are we to one another? How often do we actually look at people? And what is love?

From its opening shots (tooling up PCH in a cool car) to its closing ones (people really looking at each other), it's a true work of art. The beginning truly captures the free and concept-expanding atmosphere that is the Esalen Institute, which itself has not changed much since then. Screen goddess Natalie Wood, in one of her best roles, inhabits the honesty and sexual freedom that is Carol. Robert Culp is a strong counterpart to her as Bob. The more repressed couple, Eliott Gould and Dyan Cannon, are perfect.

Along the way, they explore the boundaries of sexuality, monogamy and friendship, and realize that some lines are better left uncrossed. To me, it puts a very fine point on what was going on in the 60s, and where exactly we went wrong.

SEE THIS FILM. It'll give you insight. Promise.
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This movie holds up!
nlevin1130 April 2005
I rented this movie because I remembered one scene from 35 years ago. I was astounded to see that the whole movie holds up very well. The 4 leads are terrific (Natalie Wood and Dyan Canon are beautiful, by the way, and Robert Culp hits just the right note with his "sensitive-new- age-guy" hip/naive performance) and you can see director Paul Mazursky's touch with what seems to be stretches of impromptu dialog I found true.

The movie also does a great job of balancing drama with farce, superficiality with intimacy.

The scenes at the Esalen-type retreat start at as spoof but evolve into real empathy. Parenthetically, check out the fashions in this film. There is one scene in a discotheque that Mazursky must have known even then would be a source of laughter and certainly, today, it's a hoot.
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Clever & Cool & Classy & Funny
middleburg13 August 2004
What a delightful movie! I don't think its aged one bit. Sure the clothes are different, the latest self-help fads are different, the priorities are different--but SO much still resonates today. The relationship between love and sex and spouses and friends. Human desire, and commitment are timeless topics, and they are explored with great wit and panache in this thoroughly entertaining movie. And the dialogue! Many scenes purely consist of the twists and turns of intelligent people in verbal games--some of the scenes feel like being in a verbal

amusement park, going up and down roller-coasters of clever and surprising

dialogue. The funny moments are priceless: the tennis instructor asking for a glass of Pernod, Dyan Cannon in the therepist's office--probably the funniest and most perceptive take on the "therepy experience" ever shown on film-- (along with Kirstie Alley's therapist melt-down scene in Woody Allen's

"Deconstructing Harry"), the opening group therapy session in the beautiful

California countryside, that first dinner in the restaurant with Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice all declaring their love for each other in front of the table of bemused gay diners--it is a film filled with endless, perceptive and highly

amusing details. Its a terrific entertainment. (One last comment--Dyan Cannon lights up the screen everytime she appears, with her sexy persona, her high

spirits, her warmth and generosity, and that truly infectious laugh!)
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Great 60's comedy w/beautiful actresses
shepardjessica24 June 2004
One of the best of 1969 with Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon at their sexiest. Perfect casting, great story, and Mazursky's best film. I know the critics were split on this one, but it came out at the right time and it holds up today. What's not to like about this? Elliott Gould was never more befuddled, Dyan Cannon's best acting when she was gorgeous, Robert Culp's only decent movie, and Natalie Wood was born to play Carol.

Certainly a 9 out 10! Mazursky would never again be so in touch with the times and the ending is NOT a cop-out! Check this out. Great stuff! Even the encounter session scenes have the ring of truth for that sort of thing. This movie is great!
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Fun with values
oleh_k11 February 1999
If only Bob could be played by Benigni, the movie would be a masterpiece. It deals with family values, inhibitions and stereotypes, and deals with them in quite amusing manner. Indeed I didn't laugh like this at the movie for some time. Fun, fun, fun. 8/10.
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"I like my husband." "Yes, but do you love him?"
wombat_115 May 2003
I saw this movie as a repressed teenager when it first came out, so much of the humour I didn't understand. But even now, 30 years later, there are some specific scenes that I recall as superbly funny. And from my every dimming memory, the best parts are indeed when Carol is being "played" (like a fish!) by her psychiatrist.
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Psychological partner-swapping that drags on with no payoff
ES-III29 December 1999
Even though Natalie Wood stars in this film, it's not very good. It chronicles the healthy descent of four friends who fall into a cavalcade of swinging and partner-swapping to help their marriage after attending a secluded psychotherapy course. As everyone rejuvenates their sexual thinking and behavior, other problems rear their ugly heads, and the four realize only love is needed to revitalize a marriage.

It's pretty gutsy material for the time, and I'm fairly sure you wouldn't see a film this brave come from a major studio with big-name stars today. Still, it's just not very good! I didn't care for any of the characters, especially Robert Culp's portrayal of Bob Sanders and Dyan Cannon's whiny rendering of Alice Henderson, and the story just dragged on and on without any closure or action. I'd wait for this one to come on late at night when there's absolutely nothing else on!
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Still worth watching.
brefane28 November 2004
B&C&T&A is still entertaining and has a number of funny scenes. Two of my favorites are the opening scene at the Esalen Institute, and Alice's session with her psychiatrist. The cast,particularly Dyan Cannon (Best Supporting Actress- NY Film Critics)and Elliot Gould, is perfect. B&C&T&A really do seem like couples and friends. It's Natalie Wood's best adult film role, and arguably her best film performance:she's never been more natural or at ease in front of the camera. Robert Culp never had a better role or vehicle. The film marked Mazursky's directorial debut, and it's probably his best film. The final scene in front of the Riviera Hotel in Vegas, recalls the "looking" exercise at the Institute, and was influenced by the parade at end of Felini's "81/2". Therefore, I give the film an 81/2 out of 10. Rent(or buy) the DVD and listen to the commentary with Cannon,Culp,Gould and Mazursky. Did you know that Leif Garrett plays Bob and Carol's son, and that Culp's "I Spy" costar, Bill Cosby, appears briefly(don't blink) in a scene at a club? The film has aged better than Midnight Cowboy, Z, Butch Cassidy, Hello Dolly and Anne of the Thousand Days,the films nominated for Best Picture of 1969. B&C&T&A feels more representative of the 60's than The Graduate, and is definitely worth seeing.
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Still Brilliant 36 years later
sajeeva sinniah26 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Bob is married to Carol. Carol's best friends with Alice whose husband Ted is best friends with Bob. Things begin to heat up (in a good way), when Bob has an affair with a woman, and Carol becomes OK with it, and hence the 2 of them openly accept that having having sex with another person is OK, as there are no emotions involved.

For a movie made in 1969, this movie is brilliant. People tend to skip these lost gems, because they consider it to be rather 'ancient' - however it is so good, that if the same script and direction were used without any amendments, but with a different cast offcourse today, this movie would stll be a hit, and would even score at the Oscars. The performances are BRILLIANT, and are still Oscar worthy. Dyan Cannon was the most impressive - I certainly do not know how the 60's revolved, but at that time you would expect for a blonde actress, to play a quirky role. Dyan was everything BUT quirky. Natalie Wood, who i believe had a vivid resemblance to Catherine Zeta Jones, gave a good performance as well. What made their performance so good was that is seemed so real.

A must see for everyone. Take my word - WATCH IT!
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Not particularly funny....but interesting
mikeghee22 January 2004
I found this film at a video store and immediately rented it out of curiosity. It stars Robert Culp, Natalie Wood, Elliot Gould, and Dyan Cannon as the namesakes respectively. I remember when I was a kid this film came out in 1969 so I really did not know anything about it other than it was supposed to be some kind of "sex comedy".

Well being an adult now and renting it, I found that it basically deals with 2 married couples, the ages of which suggest upper 30's to me. They decide to experimentally partake of the late 60's climate of free love, drugs, etc. I think that is where the film is supposed to derive its humor from.

Instead, the film plays like prolonged unfunny sketches on "Saturday Night Live" which they save for the end of the broadcast. However, I was compelled to keep watching the film to see what would be the result of their "experiment" The film did have some funny moments such as Elliot Gould fantasizing about a marital affair and Dyan Cannon at the shrink.

I give the film credit since I could not figure out what the ending would be like and was somewhat surprised by it when it happened. There is a second part of the ending right before the credits roll which still has me confused though. Overall, an OK film in my opinion.

Side Note: Natalie Wood and Dyan Cannon look pretty hot in this movie so if your a male like myself and always found these woman attractive, its a must rental !
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Great Movie!!!!!!
WhoAteMyKielbasa26 February 2004
I (admittedly) started watching this movie, because it had nudity, and there was nothing else on. But after really getting into it, I got...well...into it! It's such a great comedy, and not just because it's so dated,(and it is)but because of the actors they chose. Gould is amazing in this movie! I was unaware of his true genius until this movie! Also cannon is phenomenal! Not to mention wood and culp, I honestly could not have asked for a better movie to happen across! The story is great, bob and carol go to a hippie retreat, and get "changed" in their mindset of sexual relationships. Then when they come home, they bring the ideals home and spew them on their best friends, ted and alice, like radiation. Of course it messes them up bad, and disrupts their lives. This is where the fun gets started. If you do watch, be warned, the beginning is weird. But give it 20 minutes, you'll be happy you did! I LOVED the movie, I'm just upset it took so long to discover it. Seriously, we should all be so lucky! I give it very high marks, and suggest you watch it an enjoy it. GREAT MOVIE!!!!!!
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A delightful look back at the daft optimism of a memorable era
greystones1189 February 2004
The pay-off, it seems to me, is in the fact that at the moment when the enthusiastic couple and the reluctant couple submit to the full and unfettered concept of free love, they finally realize the truth that no matter how much love and social freedom they feel towards their dearest friends, there are still some areas of human experience that are best kept private and intimate.

So, rather charmingly, they decide that however hip they seem and wish to appear, deep down they are as old fashioned as you and me !

Malcolm McDougall - ( child of the sixties )
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The rich hippies of suburbia
bako10124 November 2002
This is a grainy, sun-drenched, hippy farce. An examination of whether married relationships can withstand/be improved by free love - it seems almost a parody of itself, showing how a bunch of rich LA types have jumped on the peace and love bandwagon and are riding it out of existence. Like all revolutions though, it had become (main)streamlined by movies like this, and as such was about to burn out. It's 1969 and the end of the line for the hippy ideal. So this movie accurately depicts where the movement had gotten to (but is this intentional?). The film itself is a dreamy, bizarre, occasionally amusing, often boring, sex farce.
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review of Bob&Carol&Ted&Alice
aeleeman3 July 2005
keeping in mind how long this movie has survived and to find that its continuing popularity seemingly intact. it was (and remains) a brisk paced "fun, and funny" movie that still holds up in this somewhat jaded time we now live in - most viewers today would not have a clue how racy this movie was thought to be at its first showing way back in 1969. I can still remember my wife and I discussing the movie for weeks after first viewing it - with a little bit of embarrassment but over-all just plain laughter!! In fact, sometimes at parties we would "do some of the lines" which were hysterical and generally referred to by our friends as raunchy. thinking back it really fun to elicit the red faces from our friends - still makes me chuckle even after all these years - thanks for the opportunity of sharing this information with those who haven't seen it - its worth much more than the price of admission.
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Okay, WHO said that it had a cop-out ending?
Lee Eisenberg8 July 2005
With the sexual revolution of the '60s, there of course would have to be a movie about sex. "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" was it. Having visited a therapy group, Bob and Carol Sanders (Robert Culp and Natalie Wood) have become more open about their sexuality, and are identifying more with the counterculture in general. Their repressed friends, Ted and Alice Henderson (Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon) can't seem to get into it. But while in a hotel room in Las Vegas, after they've all revealed some secrets, they decide to have an orgy. You've probably seen the picture of the four of them in bed together.

When this movie came out, many critics thought that it had a cop-out ending. In an interview, director Paul Mazursky explained that he felt that they only could go as far as they eventually went. Anyway, you can't judge an entire movie by one individual scene; it's what the movie's saying overall that matters. As for the characters, Bob seems sort of wooden, Carol is hot (as Natalie Wood always was), Ted is a dork, and Alice is a little eccentric. Overall, it's a pretty good movie.
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Marital bliss has never been so funny
soranno2 November 2002
Two married couples (Bob: Robert Culp, Carol: Natalie Wood, Ted: Elliott Gould, Alice: Dyan Cannon) feel as though true excitement is missing from their marriages and so they decide to pick things up by wife swapping and having drug parties. A crazy but funny satire on marriages that is given a boost by the hilarious performances of its talented cast.
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Was Interesting
Dave CT23 August 1999
I watched this movie one night during the summer of 1999. I found it really interesting and sometimes true to life, concerning the psyche of the male and female mind. I recommend watching this movie, it quite entertaining I feel.
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Worth watching once, if you're a fan of any of the leads.
stanford929 September 2005
If you're a fan of any of the four leads, see this once. I am a Robert Culp fan, and I originally went into it simply to see him. When I initially started watching it, I muddled through the retreat scene, got to the restaurant scene of the four, post-retreat, and couldn't watch any more. I slammed the headphones down and said, This movie SUCKS! My sister, who's 8 1/2 years older and remembered it when it came out, laughed and told me she could've told me that, but NOOOOO, I just had to see Robert Culp.

I gave up on it for a few days and figured I'd try it again. So I got through those two major scenes, sans sound this time, and once it picked up from the restaurant and I turned the sound up, I have to admit...I began getting caught up in it.

The going back and forth between the four was entertaining and as someone said in another comment, a good portion of this is simply the great acting and the dialogue, the verbal exchanges and parrying back and forth as Bob and Carol discover things about one another, and work to whittle away at Ted and Alice about the possibilities inherent in emotion-free sexual dalliances.

Cannon's character is pivotal in a lot of this, as the outraged friend of Carol. Alice flips out when Carol casually tells her that Bob had had an affair when he was off on his last shoot (he's a filmmaker), and later wigs out again when she learns that Carol, too, had had a casual affair while Bob was gone.

As anyone who's seen the movie poster for this will know, the four end up in bed together. It's surprising how this is instigated, and very surprising how it all ends. As another comment said, back in the day, many were crying FOUL! and COP-OUT! about the ending, but I really liked the twist of how it ends. Bob and Ted, and Carol and Alice, come to a startling revelation about their situation and about their love and friendship amongst themselves. It couldn't have ended any other way in my opinion.

I gave it a 6/10, just a wee bit above middle-of-the-road. I could find no fault in the acting of the four, the basic storyline (as I discovered) was enough to grab and hold one's interest, but it's far from a "great" film as many have said. See it, just once, you'll like it.
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Tongue-in-cheek send-up of the 1960s, with a melancholy undermining
moonspinner5522 May 2001
Writer-director Paul Mazursky must be a manic-depressive. He enjoys setting up farcical situations and then underlining the laughs with either seriousness or a sense of melancholy. When Bob (Robert Culp) returns home to find wife Carol (Natalie Wood) entertaining a gentleman in their bedroom, he's outraged--forgetting that he himself just disclosed having an affair not too long back. His juvenile outburst is hilarious, but when the two men meet and share a drink, it's Mazursky who brings the viewer back to Earth with a bit of poignancy. I like this combination, although it's likely to throw some viewers off track. There's a lot going in this film: improvisation, long takes, a surrealistic ending. But I thought it really worked, and Dyan Cannon is just amazing as square friend Alice who can't escape her sexually-repressed background. Natalie Wood is less interesting: she's at her most beautiful here, but there's a plastic quality about her work that she can't seem to shake (perhaps she was still stuck in star-vehicle mode, being overtly impish, and this clashes with the more subtle work of her co-stars). In spite of the flaws, a near-gem. *** from ****
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An anti-Sixties '60s film
krumski25 July 2001
Any film made during the "Swinging Sixties" is almost sure to look silly to us today - a plethora of "groovy man"s as well as doped-up pontifications about "letting it all hang out" and becoming one of the "beautiful people", all served up with garish camera tricks and gaudy production design. You know, "Austin Powers" but without the wink-wink knowingness.

(NOTE: To see how a so-called "classic" can be killed by the passage of time - and the absence of pharmaceuticals in one's system - check out "Easy Rider". That is, if you can stand it.)

On the surface, "B&C&T&A" seems to be in line with such films: it is, after all, how a quartet of middle class "squares" become indoctrinated into the hippie values of free love and "doing your own thing." However, the film uses that set-up as a means to deflate - gently and good naturedly - those very values. For, as the group becomes more uninhibited and "with it," the more goofy and ridiculous they all seem. This is particularly true of Robert Culp and Natalie Wood (Bob and Carol), as they take on the hippie philosophy full-bore and unquestionably. Casting here is impeccable: seeing the square-jawed, All-American looking Culp (then the epitome of middle-brow, as star of "I Spy") utter lines straight out of the Dennis Hopper - Peter Fonda playbook is just unutterably funny; he's got the words all right, but the music is woefully wrong. Same thing with Natalie Wood; can there be anyone more whitebread than her? The more she attempts to be "groovy" the more perfectly square she seems, particularly as Carol appears to just be parroting everything her husband says and does in adopting this new lifestyle. Quite the opposite of "liberation", wouldn't you say?

Perhaps funnier, though, are Elliot Gould and Dyan Cannon as Ted and Alice, since they get to register all the (comic) shock and horror of their friends' complete abandonment of rationality. And the equally strong undercurrents of jealousy that their friends are getting to enjoy all the freedom and sexual gratification that they themselves, as good well-behaved members of society - are missing out on. Cannon's neurotic sessions with her psychiatrist - where she continually broaches, and then backs off of, what's really troubling her - provide wonderful moments of comic denial and delusion.

What the film ultimately exposes is the moral vacuity of much of the hippie philosophy - that happiness and feeling good about oneself are not all there is to life, and that focusing too narrowly on them leads ultimately to emptiness. It also makes the subtle point, however, that much of what might initially have been good about hippie thought (or at least, the thoughts of those who inspired the hippies in the first place) was oversimplified and thereby corrupted when the middle class tried to incorporate it, seizing only upon those elements of it which seemed "fun" or "a turn-on" to them. Let's face it: how much of the so-called Woodstock Nation really had any deep political or philosophical commitments; most were just middle class kids turned on to the immediate buzz of easy drugs, free sex, and rebellion for its own sake. Likewise, cosmetic changes such as longer hair or listening to rock'n'roll didn't necessarily change the minds or policies of many in the power structure. As John Lennon said in 1971: "The Sixties didn't change anything. The same b***ards are in power now, it's just they've all got long hair."

I don't mean to suggest that the film gets into issues like this directly; it is never less than a pleasant and even sunny comedy. But these issues in a very real way undergird the film and make it ahead of its time. Released in 1969, "Bob, Carol et al. . ." displays a jaundiced attitude about the counterculture - at least, the middle-class *embrace* of the counterculture - that wouldn't come widely into vogue until at least a decade later. Indeed, the film almost seems contemporary in its bemused and dismissive view of Sixties mores. Austin Powers fans would do well to check it out.
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very nice
Michael Bennett Cohn12 September 1999
Touching and sad, this "comedy" is (intentionally, I think) more depressing than funny. It's one of those films that manages to make a serious statement about human nature purely by presenting believable (although zany) characters and behavior, never getting preachy. It manages to come across with a sort of anti-promiscuity message, while tittilating the (male) viewer with lots of footage of natalie wood prancing around in her underwear. And I have no problem with that.
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VERY 60s but not uninteresting
preppy-32 August 2004
Robert Culp and Natalie Wood play a VERY liberated couple who basically love each other...when they cheat on the other they discuss it and talk out their feelings and end up still madly in love. They share their views with another couple played by Dyan Cannon and Elliott Gould. They try to convert them to their way of thinking...but will it work or tear them all apart?

For starters this film would NOT be made today. With HIV and AIDS out there the casual sex shown here is a stupid idea. And can anyone seriously say they would honestly tell their partners that they had cheated on them and DISCUSS it???? That aside, I still sort of like the movie. The script was well-written with some sharp observations on sex and love and I found the discussions between Culp and Wood fascinating. Also Culp and Wood give out great performances (I especially liked Wood's little smiles). Cannon is good too but, surprisingly, looks HORRIBLE. Gould is just OK. But the script carries this one. If you can accept the ideas in this it works.

However it all ends in a laughably horrible ending that (almost) destroys everything that went before. Ending aside, I think this is a pretty interesting and a (I think) accurate picture of the late 1960s. Worth a look. I give it a 7.
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Classic from Paul Mazursky
barbarella704 December 2002
Underrated director Paul Mazursky's satiric hit film deals with two couples facing the let-it-all-hang-out, '60's counterculture attitude. The title seems part of today's culture but not the film itself; that being the case, it's too bad because there's buried treasure here. Dyan Cannon creates some magic with her bitchy, uptight Alice: memorable, seemingly improvised therapy scenes where the character's awkward communication skills are highlighted ring very true-as does her frustration near the end when she tries to initiate the orgy. A bedroom scene between Alice and Ted (Elliot Gould) is played with pitch-perfect comedic timing and showcases both actor's ability to balance seriousness and lunacy. Ms. Cannon won the NY Film Critics Best Supporting Actress Award and both she and Mr. Gould were nominated for Academy Awards; a feat almost unheard of for work done in a comedy.

Robert Culp's Bob and Natalie Wood's Carol balance quite nicely; Mr. Culp is square-jawed sexy with a slight deadpan delivery while Miss Wood was at the height of her looks and popularity. Displaying a knock-out figure and wide bedroom eyes, she's obviously game for the comedy as well as the sexual undercurrent. Their deluded characters set the ball rolling and score in their own setpieces: the bedroom confession that's played out on the bathroom floor, the discovery of Carol's mid-afternoon romp with a stammering tennis pro. When all four lead unite in the Las Vegas hotel room, a sequence begins that exudes hilarity, sexuality, uncomfortability, and ultimately, a bittersweet melancolia topped by a Fellini-esque finale. It's a great movie.
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A Movie I Love to Hate
21561120 October 2003
Drawing many rave reviews and even Academy Award nods, this remains one of my personal choices for a truly horrible film. I have tried over and over to watch this thing, telling myself to turn more positive and all that stuff. It doesn't work. Usually the sheer whiny and lifeless dialog alone makes me stop the video tape long before I have seen more than a third of the scenes. Seen by many as a great 60's portrayal, it lacks even the excitement of that era. The thought of having an affair, sexual or otherwise, with any of these morbid and depressing characters is totally out of the question for me.

Inveterate hippies who still smoke a joint a day will continue to find this movie a joy, even when their days of prostate problems and wrinkles have arrived. As Ancient Greece was important to the eventual development of drama, this movie is important to the eventual development of the X rated disasters currently in production.
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In the sexy 1960s, "swinging" or wife-swapping became all the rage.
Sam Sloan (samsloan)24 August 2003
In the sexy late-1960s, "swinging" or wife-swapping became all the rage. It worked like this: I get to sleep with your wife while you get to sleep with my wife. If you did not have a wife, just find any game girl willing to sleep with anybody and trade her off for the night. This practice was very popular and just about everybody was doing it. You could sleep with some of the best and most desirable women that way, if you could find a good-looking girl to trade for her. Take it from one who did it!

However, there was one rule: Last names were never revealed. You never got to find out the last name of your sex-partner for the night. That way, you could never trace him or her back to his or her spouse or job. Everybody went by first names like Bob, Carol, Ted or Alice.

This movie was about such relationships. Bob, played by Robert Culp, and Carol, played by Natalie Wood, are ultra sophisticated swingers, heavily into wife swapping. They meet Ted, played by Elliott Gould, and Alice, played by Dyan Cannon. The plot centers around the question: Will Bob and Carol be able to seduce Ted and Alice into exchanging partners for the night? Sam Sloan
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