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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977)

A disturbed,institutionalized 16-year-old girl struggles between fantasy and reality.


Anthony Page


Joanne Greenberg (novel) (as Hannah Green), Gavin Lambert (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathleen Quinlan ... Deborah Blake
Bibi Andersson ... Dr. Fried
Ben Piazza ... Jay Blake
Lorraine Gary ... Ester Blake
Martine Bartlett ... Secret Wife
Margo Ann Berdeshevsky Margo Ann Berdeshevsky ... Drawing Patient
Darlene Craviotto Darlene Craviotto ... Carla
Reni Santoni ... Hobbs
Susan Tyrrell ... Lee
Signe Hasso ... Helene
Norman Alden ... McPherson
Sylvia Sidney ... Miss Coral
Dennis Quaid ... Shark, Baseball Pitcher
Karin Collison ... Nurse (as Elizabeth Dartmoor)
Robert Viharo ... Anterrabae


Based very loosely on the intricate novel by Joanne Greenberg. A young woman's devotion to a childhood fantasy kingdom has taken over her entire life and causes her endless pain and degradation. Placed in a mental hospital, she has the great good fortune to have a truly caring therapist who tries to help her accept reality, even though reality isn't so great either. Written by Molly Malloy <mailcall@bluemarble.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Best Selling Novel Is Now a Triumphant New Film


Drama | Fantasy


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 October 1977 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Nunca te prometí un jardín de rosas See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The lead character was offered to Patty Duke in the late '60s. But she turned it down because she wanted to be married and not work at the time. See more »


In the New Year's party scene, Deborah is seen with loose hair talking to Dr. Fried and then there is close-up of Deborah with her hair pulled back from her forehead. See more »


Referenced in Will & Grace: I Never Promised You an Olive Garden (1999) See more »


Singing the Greens
Written by Susan Tyrrell and Georg Michalski
Performed by Susan Tyrrell
See more »

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User Reviews

Every Rose has its Thorn
7 January 2010 | by Chase_WitherspoonSee all my reviews

Deborah Blake (Kathleen Quinlan) is admitted to a country institution by her high street parents, unable to cope with the ignominy brought upon them, by her erratic, anti-social behaviour. Taunted by her inner-demons (to which we're treated inventively from the mind's eye perspective), she's gradually cajoled from her psychosis by the unassuming, yet fiercely determined treating doctor (Bibi Andersson delivering a warm, sympathetic performance). Along the journey, there's a couple of plot diversions, some poignant, others hackneyed and exploitative, but then would New World Pictures ever have made this movie without a stereotypical bully nurse scenario? Unlikely.

Roger Corman's production combines cinematic liberties with an at times reverent translation of the Hannah Green novel, creating a compelling B-movie drama and an unlikely companion in the mental illness sub-genre. A cynical viewer might postulate that Corman saw a payday following the success of "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest", and to an extent, this remains exploitative cinema. Quinlan's performance on the other-hand defies that brand, her characterisation personifies trauma and while often intense, isn't overcooked.

You have to commend New World Pictures for commissioning this release against type, especially when you consider it was straddled by "Hollywood Boulevard" and "Piranha" in the production line. Has a tendency to stigmatise in its representations of the subject matter, and not as sophisticated as, say, William Friedkin's ultra disturbing "Bug", "Rose Garden" thematically, probably nestles in between "Caged Heat" on the left, and "Cuckoo's Nest" on the right. A curious comparison to make, nevertheless, an enjoyable film in spite of its flaws.

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