Chronicling the lifelong sexual development of two men who meet and become friends in college.


Mike Nichols


Jules Feiffer
4,522 ( 453)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Jack Nicholson ... Jonathan
Candice Bergen ... Susan
Art Garfunkel ... Sandy (as Arthur Garfunkel)
Ann-Margret ... Bobbie
Rita Moreno ... Louise
Cynthia O'Neal ... Cindy
Carol Kane ... Jennifer


The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, lives that are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperaments, especially in relation to the women in their lives. Their story begins in the late 1940s when they are roommates attending Amherst College together. Both virgins, they discuss the type of woman they would each like to end up with. The more-sensitive Sandy meets Susan at a mixer and believes he'll lose his virginity to her. He goes through the process methodically, considering what she wants, but there's little true passion or romance. The more sexually-aggressive Jonathan, loses his own virginity to "Myrtle," a steady but hidden girlfriend. Based on what each knows of the other's relationship, both men strive for a little more of what the other has. These relationships also set the tone for all the relationships they will have in the future. Through their lives, they always seem not totally satisfied with each relationship, ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The United States Supreme Court Has Ruled That "Carnal Knowledge" Is Not Obscene. See It Now!




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The fight scene between Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret took a week to shoot. At the end, both performers had lost their voices. See more »


On their first night together, Jonathan and Bobbie ride down Broadway in the back of a taxi. Four of the films showing on marquees on a rear projection screen are "West Side Story," "El Cid," "Satan in High Heels," and "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." WSS and El Cid were released in late 1961, the other two were released in early 1962 (Satan in March, '62).

During the fight scene. which takes place at least a year after they started living together, Bobbie says that Jonathan didn't let her campaign for Kennedy. According to the films playing on Broadway, they met more than a year after Kennedy had been inaugurated. See more »


[first lines]
Jonathan: If you had a choice...
Sandy: Yeah?
Jonathan: Would you rather love a girl, or have her love you?
Sandy: I want it mutual.
Jonathan: I mean if you couldn't have it mutual.
Sandy: You mean would I rather be the one who loves, or is loved?
Jonathan: Yeah.
Sandy: It's not that easy a question. But, I think I'd rather be in love.
Jonathan: Me too. I wouldn't want to get hurt, though.
See more »


A String of Pearls
Written by Jerry Gray and Edgar De Lange
Performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
See more »

User Reviews

The Relationships of Two Men With Women Along Thirty Years
30 September 2003 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

The plot begins with Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) and Sandy (Art Garfunkel) roommates in the university. Each one of them has a different behavior and experience with women: Jonathan is cynical, malicious, and selfish. He does not respect anybody (even his best friend is not respected) and just want to have sex. Women are objects for him. Sandy is almost the opposite of Jonathan and has a different approach with women: he is shy and respectful, he does not have much experience with women. These characteristics are presented in the film having Susan (the gorgeous Candice Bergen, the most beautiful actress of the 70's) as pivot. Then the story advances a few years and shows both of them successful in their professions and boring with their mates. The character of Susan (who married Sandy) is just occasionally mentioned and does not appear on the screen any more. Now, we see basically the relationship of Jonathan with Bobbie (the sexy Ann-Margret). Then, there is another jump in time and other relationship of Jonathan and Sandy are presented in this movie, since its essence is about relationship of men and woman having the focus mainly in Jonathan.

In 1971, I was too young to watch this movie and certainly I would not understand most of the story. Only a couple of days ago I had the chance of seeing it. It is amazing how this movie for adults has not aged. Further, it does not look like an American movie. The camera, the screenplay, it does look like European movie (maybe a little of 'Jules and Jim'). All the actors and actresses have outstanding performance, but certainly Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret are superb. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Ânsia de Amar" ("Eagerness for Love")

Note: On 18 January 2014, I saw this movie again.

33 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 84 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

30 June 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Carnal Knowledge See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Embassy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed