7.2/10
4,124
49 user 25 critic

An Unmarried Woman (1978)

A wealthy woman from Manhattan's Upper East Side struggles to deal with her new identity and her sexuality after her husband of sixteen years leaves her for a younger woman.

Director:

Paul Mazursky

Writer:

Paul Mazursky
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jill Clayburgh ... Erica
Alan Bates ... Saul Kaplan
Michael Murphy ... Martin
Cliff Gorman ... Charlie
Patricia Quinn ... Sue (as Pat Quinn)
Kelly Bishop ... Elaine
Lisa Lucas Lisa Lucas ... Patti
Linda Miller ... Jeannette
Andrew Duncan ... Bob
Daniel Seltzer Daniel Seltzer ... Dr. Jacobs
Matthew Arkin ... Phil
Penelope Russianoff Penelope Russianoff ... Tanya
Novella Nelson ... Jean
Raymond J. Barry ... Edward
Ivan Karp Ivan Karp ... Herb Rowan
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Storyline

Erica is unmarried only temporarily, in that her successful, wealthy husband of seventeen years has just left her for a girl he met while buying a shirt in Bloomingdale's. This movie shows Erica coming to terms with the break-up, while revising her opinions of herself, redefining that self in its own right rather than as an extension of somebody else's personality, and finally going out with another man. Erica refuses to drop everything for Saul, an abstract expressionist painter, simply out of love for him, because he expects her to. It is not so much loneliness that is her problem, and the problems that men, flitting around this newly "available" woman like moths round a flame, bring to her sense of independence. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She laughs, she cries, she feels angry, she feels lonely, she feels guilty, she makes breakfast, she makes love, she makes do, she is strong, she is weak, she is brave, she is scared, she is... an unmarried woman.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1978 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Una mujer descasada See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$24,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

First movie that English actor Sir Alan Bates made in the U.S. See more »

Goofs

Erica orders white wine at the bar. She is given red wine and sips it. When she joins friends at their table, her wine is white. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Martin and Erica are jogging along the river]
Martin: Jesus Christ! Look at this - my sneaker's ruined!
Erica: They're only thirty-five dollars.
[Erica takes Martin's shoe and cleans it off for him]
Martin: Fucking city's turning into one big pile of DOG SHIT!
[shouting at passing traffic]
Martin: Come on out and take a crap on me - everybody else is. Fuck.
[Martin lights a cigarette]
Erica: ...been jogging for 2 1/2 miles - you're giving yourself lung cancer.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

For Betsy See more »

Connections

Referenced in Sex Is Crazy (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Yours
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Johnny Green
Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg
Performed by Billie Holiday
See more »

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User Reviews

 
New York In The Late 70s Time Capsule
26 May 2010 | by Shilpot7See all my reviews

It's very interesting reading the other reviews to this film. The reactions to it are very extreme. Some people love it. Some people hate it and that was exactly the reaction people had to it back in 1978 when it first came out.

The mid to late 70s was New York's era as the 'fashionable city' in the days of fashionable cities. NYC took the torch from Swinging Sixites London as the city every fashionable person wanted to go to, live in, know... It was the 'Disco' capital of the world. It was where the most interesting films were set. It where all the happening artists lived and Unmarried Woman caught the zeitgeist of that time. Even jogging was a new phenomenon back then and NY lead the way with it and 'everyone' wanted to know what people were up to there, even about the jogging. If you'd never been to NYC you were missing out. If you had been to NY and or knew NY, back in 1978, you bragged about it. While at the same time the city was officially broke and in many ways seemed to be crumbling into the sea.

Unmarried Woman was a product of all this fascination, both negative and positive, with the city at the time. Trivial details about life in NY had a sort of cachet. Therefore, on reflection, what may seem trite to viewers today, had a strange sort of value back then.

Some people sneer at Erica's seemingly privileged position in society. How dare she be so miserable, have you seen where she lives? Well, guess what, wealthy women also feel sad when they are rejected by their husbands for a younger model. And guess what, some people like to look at the lives of people who live in beautiful apartments with views of the river and whizz downtown in yellow cabs on bright New York mornings. In fact it's the contrast between the material privilege and the sadness and loss that makes this film work.

Some people are also alarmed by the strong, upfront musical score. Sorry about that. Music in the 70s was strong and upfront in our lives, not just background noise. The wailing saxophone was the pop instrument of the time and the excellent, very 70s soundtrack, is one of the aspects that make watching this film such a powerful, nostalgic and enjoyable ride.

Unmarried Woman does have its flaws. It is at times somewhat simplistic and personally, I'm not so sure that newly unmarried woman, Erica, was as much of a catch as we're made to believe. Every man she meets seems to fall at her feet.

This is very much a film of its time and a very interesting time and place it was. I wish they still made films like this today, about adults, for adults, with strong subtle performances, without both eyes on the cash register and without some dreary, over-exposed, under talented box office 'star' drudging her way through her lines. There was something very adult and sophisticated about American cinema in the 70s and Unmarrried Woman takes its place in the long list of films that were a part of that.

The film was beautifully shot, beautifully scored, excellently acted and I'm glad it's now available for us to see, as a reminder of a short but memorable time and place.


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