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

PG | | Drama | 30 May 1973 (France)
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 »


Paul Newman


Paul Zindel (play), Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




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


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


Mother of the Year. See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Director Paul Newman told that his wife Joanne Woodward never brought her character home after shooting. Except on the making of this film, because she hated her character so much that she searched this way to get rid of her. See more »


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 »


Beatrice: My heart is full!
See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

User Reviews

Well-directed, affecting character study...
27 December 2006 | by MarieGabrielleSee all my reviews

Paul Newman again surprises (along with "Rachel, Rachel") as Joanne Woodward is presented in the unglamorous role of Beatrice Hunsdorfer, a bitter widow living on the fringe in an anonymous Connecticut suburb.

Nell Potts and Roberta Wallach in diametrically opposed roles, Ruth, the epileptic popular daughter, and Mathilda, the science-project sensitive daughter who relates to her pet rabbit.

While some is a bit overdone it is no stretch to imagine a bored housewife trying to make ends meet; Woodward is sympathetic and annoying at the same time. A brilliant performance.

This film was made in 1972 and it would truly amazing to see real character portrayals in film again. Today we have to visit the theater for such affecting performances. Well worth more than one viewing. 9/10.

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Release Date:

30 May 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds See more »

Filming Locations:

Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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