6.9/10
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36 user 11 critic

The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams... See full summary »

Director:

Alan J. Pakula

Writers:

John Nichols (novel), Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Liza Minnelli ... Pookie Adams
Wendell Burton Wendell Burton ... Jerry Payne
Tim McIntire ... Charlie Schumacher
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Storyline

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams - a kooky, lonely misfit with no family and no place to go, insists on calling all those who won't participate in her world, "weirdos," clings to a quiet studious Jerry, who has the ability to make a choice of living in Pookie's private little world or be accepted by the society that Pookie rejects. Unwittingly, it is through their awkward relationship that Pookie actually prepares Jerry for the world of "weirdos" that she doesn't fit into or wish to be apart of. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

First love is beautiful hurt....if it happens to you once, you're lucky.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 October 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pookie See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,982,357
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Boardwalk 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

Liza Minnelli's big telephone scene--where Pookie asks Jerry if she can spend her vacation with him at his dorm--was the first scene to be shot. Parts of this dramatic sequence were later used in the trailer, but with a different actor voicing Jerry. See more »

Goofs

When they are walking by the cows he's telling her about all the stuff he read in her letters and she's wearing a short skirt with a pink blouse. Then they show them from the back in a far away shot as they walking away from the cows and their clothing has changed to the ones they were wearing when they were flying the kite. See more »

Quotes

'Pookie' Adams: It's gonna be nice to get away from all these weirdos.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Arrested Development: Queen B. (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Greensleeves
(uncredited)
Traditional English song
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Loneliness when you're with somebody, loneliness when you're apart
10 February 2001 | by moonspinner55See all my reviews

A friend of mine once commented that she never liked the TV series "Courtship Of Eddie's Father" because "it was such a lonely little show." I understand what she meant. It wasn't that it was underpopulated, it just exuded an atmosphere of melancholia. "The Sterile Cuckoo" is much the same way. Even though Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams has found her guy, she can't escape the loneliness within. She's desperate, clinging, and beautiful in her need--but a pain to her college boyfriend who quickly outgrows her. There are monologues by Liza Minnelli in this film that are haunting (the story of her father spraying perfume on his bed, or the one with Pookie making a recording for her father out of a love letter she swiped). Most importantly, Minnelli makes Pookie easily identifiable to us. Sure, we get angry at her, frustrated with her childish games, but she never alienates the audience (or director Alan J. Pakula, who stays right with her on the bus as the film fades out). I don't think I've ever seen a portrait of loneliness and need conveyed as well as it is done here. Liza probably deserved an Oscar for this quiet tour-de-force--hers is an amazing achievement that has not been equaled. ***1/2 from ****


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