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The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972)

From the Pullizer Prize winning play by Paul Zindel, this is the story of Beatrice Hunsdorfer and her daughters, Ruth and Matilda. A middle-aged widowed eccentric, Beatrice is looking for ... See full summary »

Director:

Paul Newman

Writers:

Paul Zindel (play), Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joanne Woodward ... Beatrice Hunsdorfer
Nell Potts ... Matilda Hunsdorfer
Roberta Wallach ... Ruth Hunsdorfer
Judith Lowry ... Nanny Annie
David Spielberg ... Mr. John Goodman
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... Floyd Hunsdorfer
Carolyn Coates Carolyn Coates ... Mrs. McKay
Will Hare ... Junk Man
Estelle Omens Estelle Omens ... Caroline Hunsdorfer
Jess Osuna Jess Osuna ... Trooper Sonny Gunderson
Ellen Dano Ellen Dano ... Janice Vickery
Lynne Rogers Lynne Rogers ... Miss Edith Hanley
Roger Serbagi Roger Serbagi ... Charlie
John Lehne John Lehne ... Apartment Manager
Michael Kearney Michael Kearney ... Chris Burns
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Storyline

From the Pullizer Prize winning play by Paul Zindel, this is the story of Beatrice Hunsdorfer and her daughters, Ruth and Matilda. A middle-aged widowed eccentric, Beatrice is looking for her life in the classified ads while all about her is the rubble of an unkempt house. All she needs is the right opportunity, she says puffing on a cigarette. Poorly equipped to survive the vagaries of modern life, she has nonetheless always managed to muddle through. Ruth, epileptic and making her way through the rebellious phase of adolescence, seems doomed to make the same mistakes as her mother. Quiet Matilda, on the other hand, seeks refuge in her animals and her schoolwork. "Jesus, don't you hate the world, Matilda?" Beatrice asks her youngest daughter. The title of the film is also the subject of Matilda's science project at school and serves as a metaphor for the way life affects each of us differently -- how some are able to find opportunity in adversity and thrive and how some succumb when ... Written by Mark Fleetwood <mfleetwo@mail.coin.missouri.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

If you had a mother like this, who would you be today? See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 May 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

A Influência dos Raios Gama no Comportamento das Margaridas See more »

Filming Locations:

Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The original New York production of "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" by Paul Zindel with Sada Thompson as Beatrice opened off-Broadway on April 7, 1970 at the Mercer Arts Center and ran for 819 performances. Mr. Zindel received the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the work. Ms. Thompson was succeeded in the role by Joan Blondell, Carolyn Coates, Cathryn Damon and Mary Hara. A subsequent Broadway production with Shelley Winters as Beatrice opened on March 14, 1978 at the Biltmore Theater and ran for 16 performances. See more »

Goofs

When Beatrice arrives at her sister-in-law Caroline's house, we see Caroline and her three bridge-playing friends in one shot. Later, when Beatrice yells at her brother-in-law through the bathroom door, we see the three ladies a second time in a reaction shot. Only one of them appears in both shots, although wearing a different outfit each time. The other two card-playing friends were played by different extras in each shot. See more »

Quotes

Ruth: Goodnight, Betty the Loon.
See more »


Soundtracks

On, Wisconsin!
(uncredited)
Music by William T. Purdy
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User Reviews

a very bitter pill that won't go down with ease.
15 April 2004 | by EyeAskanceSee all my reviews

The old saw "there are no guarantees in life" is given a sad example in this film, wherein we find Joanne Woodward, widowed mother of two, slipping through the cracks of her own life with her daughters in tow. Through a bleary haze of booze-soaked self-defeat, she commands change in her life but is unwilling(and/or possibly unable)to grab the reins. Woodward's performance is sterling...unrestrained, though not at all hammy. Her character is initially entirely unlikable, though in the end, she has found a place in the pity-corner of our hearts...she is a fragile and vulnerable soul who has tragically broken into many virulent and dejected pieces.

For people who enjoy strong character studies, THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS is a dexterously directed must-see mini-classic. Understand, though, that it is quite emotionally daunting, and may touch a bit too close to home for certain viewers...a stark and brutally honest portraiture of human wreckage and its many damaging effects. Beneath the downcast surface, however, lies a glint of optimism in the form of the younger daughter's quiet perseverance...although she suffers, she has a strong constitution and will likely overcome her emotionally malnourished upbringing.

Stellar cinema. 8.5/10


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