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Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
     

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

5.0 2
Director: Paul Mazursky,

Cast: Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Elliott Gould

 

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"Consider the possibilities," read the ads for Paul Mazursky's 1969 satirical comedy about what happens when the sexual revolution hits affluent bourgeois life. After a weekend of "beautiful" emotional honesty at an Esalen-type retreat, married wannabe hipsters Bob (Robert Culp) and Carol (Natalie Wood) return to their well-heeled Los Angeles life determined to apply

Overview

"Consider the possibilities," read the ads for Paul Mazursky's 1969 satirical comedy about what happens when the sexual revolution hits affluent bourgeois life. After a weekend of "beautiful" emotional honesty at an Esalen-type retreat, married wannabe hipsters Bob (Robert Culp) and Carol (Natalie Wood) return to their well-heeled Los Angeles life determined to apply the principles of free love and complete openness to their marriage. To the respective curiosity and repulsion of their married best friends, Ted (Elliott Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon), Bob and Carol have affairs that they happily reveal to everyone. Inspired by all that openness during the quartet's trip to Vegas, Ted admits an affair of his own, provoking the outraged Alice to demand that this new ethos be taken to its obvious conclusion: a mate-sharing foursome. Once they're bedded down and ready to go, however, they start to have second thoughts. Without sacrificing authenticity for comedy, first-time director Mazursky and co-writer/producer Larry Tucker delve into the confusion of the Eisenhower generation when faced with the temptations of the counterculture. Too old to be hippies and too young to be fogies, the would-be California swingers sincerely attempt to try on the lifestyle, but it never looks quite right. A then-controversial example of the New Permissiveness both onscreen and off, Bob & Carol debuted at the New York Film Festival to great praise, particularly for Gould and Cannon. Whether they wanted to laugh at their elders' faux looseness or see what their peers might be doing, audiences turned Bob & Carol into a substantial hit, and its observations about marriage and sex remain humorously sharp even if the encounter group jargon is past its vogue.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
In some ways, it's surprising that a film so identified with a time period as is Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice should hold up as well as it does. It was both famous and infamous in its day for tackling the sexual revolution, and is often thought of as "that film about wife swapping." In fact, the spouse swapping comes only at the climax of the film and actually only takes up a small portion of its running time -- and is presented seriously, rather than as simple titillation. Indeed, though a comedy, Bob & Carol takes a serious look at relationships circa 1969 and how they had been affected by rapid societal changes. Because it is as much concerned with its characters as it is with the society affecting them, Bob & Carol has not dated as badly as many other films from the era. By painting an incisive, intelligent portrait of a quartet of real, identifiable people, Bob & Carol remains effective despite some turns of phrases and expressions of ideas that seem quaint or naïve. Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker's screenplay also picks up points for keeping the characters complicated; even the "free thinking" Bob and Carol are wrapped up in denials that they can't even recognize. Mazursky directs with assurance and flair that belie his then-novice status, helped enormously by Charles B. Lang's cinematography, which contributes greatly to both the atmosphere and our understanding of the characters. And the actors playing the title characters could hardly be better. At the time of its release, the bulk of the praise went to the Ted and Alice of Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon, both of whom were relatively fresh faces giving breakout performances. Gould has rarely been better, and Cannon is a revelation throughout, but especially during her psychiatrist scene and her climactic "let's do it" scene. However, Robert Culp and Natalie Wood are equally deserving of praise, each turning in finely calibrated performances that are filled with nuance and meaning. Wood's hungry, expressive eyes convey a multitude of meanings, and Culp's rapid acceptance of encounter group principles is completely believable. A seminal film of the 1960s, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is still relevant today.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/07/2010
UPC:
0014381685121
Original Release:
1969
Rating:
R
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:45:00

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Natalie Wood Carol
Robert Culp Bob
Elliott Gould Ted
Dyan Cannon Alice
Horst Ebersberg Horst
Lee Bergere Emilio
Donald F. Muhich Psychiatrist
Noble Lee Holderread Sean
K.T. Stevens Phyllis
Celeste Yarnall Susan
Greg Mullavey Institute Group Leader
Andre Philippe Oscar
John Halloran Conrad
Joyce Easton Wendy
Howard Dayton Howard
John Brent Dave
Garry Goodrow Bert
Carol O'Leary Sue
Lynn Borden Cutter
Linda Burton Stewardess

Technical Credits
Paul Mazursky Director,Screenwriter
Mike J. Frankovich Producer
Pato Guzman Art Director,Production Designer
Quincy Jones Score Composer
Charles B. Lang Cinematographer
Moss Mabry Costumes/Costume Designer
Miriam Nelson Choreography
Stuart H. Pappe Editor
Anthony Ray Asst. Director
Larry Tucker Producer,Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start
2. Ice Breaker
3. Group Therapy
4. "I Feel Sorry."
5. Copout
6. "Full of Love."
7. Home Sweet Home
8. The Affair
9. Feeling Good
10. The Secret
11. Just Add Water
12. The Coverup
13. "Against My Will."
14. "I Really Love You."
15. Underground Groove
16. Sex in the Mind
17. San Francisco
18. The Double Standard
19. Mile High Club
20. "Next Time."
21. Horst
22. Viva Las Vegas
23. Honesty
24. Miami Heat
25. Foursome
26. Orgy
27. Love Sweet Love
28. Smile With Your Eyes

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Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Strangely undated, despite the funny clothes. Takes a cynical, sympathetic look at the attempt to turn fashion into lifestyle. Fine acting by all, and a smart script. (PS: I had no idea how beautiful Natalie Wood was.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Films like Arthur Penn's "Alice's Restaurant" (1969) were now dealing openly with the effect that the changes in society had on the youth of the nation. But it yet remained for a film to study the shifting lifestyles of early middle-aged people who tried to embrace both the new morality and the youth revolution, attempting to reorder their lifestyles to fit in with the breezy image of how liberated people ought to behave. The film that filled this vacuum was "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice", an updating of the Doris Day comedies that had flourished during the first half of the decade, and then disappeared when, in 1967, the radical changes going on around us made such pictures seem suddenly obsolete. First-time director Paul Mazursky was given a tight budget of $2 million from Columbia Pictures to make "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" and he managed to persuade Natalie Wood (then a major star) to reduce her usual $750,000 salary in favor of 10% of the film's profits. The result was the year's surprise smash hit and Natalie earned $3 million from her share of the profits alone. Filmmaker Mazursky's great gift, first suggested in his excellent screenplay for "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" (1968), and in evidence throughout his direction of B&C&T&A, was a talent for blending strong social satire with lighthearted situation comedy, and giving the end result an underlying sense of seriousness that elevated his work of entertainment into an "art" film. This would provide the basis for his most satisfying films, including "Blume in Love" (1973), "Harry and Tonto" (1974), and "An Unmarried Woman" (1978). The great moments in B&C&T&A are the ones which demonstrate his total familiarity with and understanding of the upper-middle-class California scene, which he presents with razor sharp humor but, notably, without the kind of condescension that would diminish the impact of such a film. The satire is expert--sharply written, well and dryly observed, and generally very funny. Mazursky's direction was somewhat influenced at the time, I would suspect, by the John Cassavetes of "Faces" (1968). The close-ups are tight and constant and the dialogue is filled with interruption, irrelevance, repetition, and people talking over each other. The acting couldn't have been better: Natalie Wood crying "beautiful" at each new expression of modern candor Dyan Cannon giggling through a scene with a deadpan psychiatrist Robert Culp pursuing the free life with earnest intensity Elliott Gould struggling out from under his stoned friends as they clutch each other on the couch. Best of all is the scene between Ted and Alice (both Gould and Cannon received Oscar nominations for their performances) in the privacy of their bedroom, as they face the classical marital dilemma of whether they are in the mood for lovemaking. What made this film far superior to the witless general run of comedies at the time was the tolerant understanding of Oscar-nominated screenwriters Mazursky and Larry Tucker and their obvious affection for the characters. Importantly, B&C&T&A was the film chosen to open the 1969 New York Film Festival, which marked a significant departure from the usual opening night event of the latest import of a film by some respected European auteur. In 1969, critics finally acknowledged that the long-held distinction between honest European art films and synthetic American entertainment films had at last broken down.