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The Bell Jar (1979)

As the horrors beneath the idealized 1950's come about, a successful young woman finds herself having a serious mental breakdown when she returns to New England.

Director:

Larry Peerce

Writers:

Marjorie Kellogg, Sylvia Plath (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marilyn Hassett ... Esther Greenwood
Julie Harris ... Mrs. Greenwood
Anne Jackson ... Dr. Nolan
Barbara Barrie ... Jay Cee
Robert Klein ... Lenny
Donna Mitchell ... Joan
Mary Louise Weller ... Doreen
Jameson Parker ... Buddy Willard
Thaao Penghlis ... Marco
Scott McKay ... Mr. Gilling
Meg Mundy ... Bea Ramsey
Carole Monferdini ... Hilda
Debbie McLeod ... Betsy
Elizabeth Hubbard Elizabeth Hubbard ... Vikki St. John
Karen Howard Karen Howard ... Toni LaBouchere
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Storyline

Details a young woman's summer in New York working for a Mademoiselle-like magazine, return home to New England, and subsequent breakdown all amidst the horrors of the fifties, from news of the Rosenbergs' execution to sleazy disc jockeys and predatory college boys. Written by Remy <rholzer@ammi.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Sometimes just being a woman is an act of courage.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 October 1979 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Canção para Uma Louca See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Larry Peerce and star Marilyn Hassett were married at the time of production. See more »

Goofs

New York taxis, (unlike L.A. cabs) do not now nor did they ever have their telephone numbers on them. See more »

Quotes

Esther Greenwood: To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.
See more »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 16 minutes from this film for its 1983 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Version of The Bell Jar See more »

Soundtracks

A Dream of Death
(poetry excerpt from)
written by William Butler Yeats
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Instead of "Sylvia" see this original movie about Plath
14 January 2006 | by MarieGabrielleSee all my reviews

This movie is one of the few I actually bought several copies of. Though it is circa 1979, it is not dated, and so much more effective than the recent "Sylvia" film, which is dominated by Gwyneth Paltrow's persona.

Marilyn Hassett plays the principal role, and does an excellent job. She does not overshadow the personality of Sylvia Plath, who was an interesting, conflicted and brilliant individual.

The story follows Sylvia at Smith College, where a young Donna Mitchell ("Mona Lisa Smile" mother to Kirsten Dunst), plays her best friend. The scenery invokes New England autumn, promise and hope. Julie Harris is perfect as Aurelia Plath, Sylvia's mother. We can almost feel Sylvia's disdain, as her mother reminds Sylvia ...""you got nothing but straight A's....oh, except for deportment"... Her mother is always at her, and this mirrors Sylvia's eventual faltering self-image.

The story progresses as she wins a scholarship to NY where ..."ëvery one envied me that summer"... However, there is the fateful backdrop of the Rosenbergs, the Eisenhower era, and Sylvia's doubts about her future. We see fashion shows, jewelry, cosmetics, and the fear Sylvia has of what awaits her. One should also read the book to get her true impressions, which are quite astute, reflecting women's roles in the late 1950's.

Since it was the late 50's Sylvia was expected to marry, but does not see this as a viable solution, indeed it is a hindrance to her writing career. She is on the brink of decision, when she has the ultimate breakdown; I will not delineate the detail, you must watch the brilliantly constructed story, which leads her to her decision. The main issue I liked was that her life was shown, not in conjunction with a man (like the more recent movie) but how SHE was affected, and what life meant to her.


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