Loading...

Plot:

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 the burden becomes too heavy. This is the story of slowly drowning and grasping desperately for a lifeline only to find that there’s none there and you must save yourself. “No, Mama,” Matilda says, “I don’t hate the world.” (Nell Potts, who stars as Matilda, is the stage name of Eleanor Newman — Joanne Woodward’s real-life daughter. She also appeared as the young Rachel in *Rachel, Rachel*.)

Also Known As: Bezbronne nagietki, Влиянието на гама-лъчите върху лунните невени, De l'influence des rayons gamma sur le comportement des marguerites, A Influência dos Raios Gama no Comportamento das Margaridas, Kehäkukkia, Skyggeblomster, Die Wirkung von Gammastrahlen auf Ringelblumen West, Vpliv gama zarkov na rast meseckov, Effekten av gamma-stråler på gule margeritter, El efecto de los rayos gamma sobre las margaritas, Gli effetti dei raggi gamma sui fiori di Matilde, Влияние гамма-лучей на бледно-желтые ноготки Soviet, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Gammastrålars effekt på ringblommor, The Effect of Gamma Rays, O Preço da Solidão, Agries margarites, A gammasugarak hatása a százszorszépekre

Leave a Reply

No Comments

  • nair-domingues
    nair domingues

    As much as I like Paul Newman’s work, and despite an interesting plot, this movie bored me senseless. Ok acting, ok story development, but way too slow. Nothing much going on at all.A pass for me, although I completely understand why people love it. Just not my thing, at all.

  • marta-bergstrom
    marta bergstrom

    Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The (1972) *** 1/2 (out of 4) It’s a shame the silly sounding title will probably make most people overlook this film because it’s an incredibly strong character study that deserves more attention. Joanne Woodward plays Beatrice, a widow trying to race two girls (Nell Potts, Roberta Wallach) in a world she feels is falling apart due to stupid people. What Beatrice doesn’t realize is that the majority of problems in her life are due to herself and she can’t seem to realize the damage that she’s doing to her daughters. I must admit that I was shocked to see that Woodward didn’t even got an Oscar-nomination for her performance here, which will go down in my book as one of the biggest injustices of all-time. Many people has called this performance one of the actresses greatest and many, including her husband and director of this film Paul Newman, have called it the greatest of her career. I’d probably go even further than that and call it one of the greatest performances by an actress that you’re ever going to see. The amount of rage, passion and at times evilness within this performance is something truly amazing to watch and it’s just breathtaking sitting back and watching Woodward work. She said that this was one of her most difficult roles because of having to play someone so depressing, bitter and angry but she perfectly nails all of it. I think calling this character crazy would be an easy way out because there’s just so much to her and so much development that goes on. Just take a look at a sequence where she’s trying to gather money for a tea-shop invention that she’s came up with. Just watch the way she grows more and more frantic as the money trail starts to go away. Another terrific sequence again shows the character in a different way. There’s a scene where the mother learns that her oldest daughter had done a skit about her at school for laughs. Again, just watch the way Woodward brilliantly plays it. The supporting performances are also very good with Newman and Woodward’s real-life daughter Nell doing a nice job with the role of the youngest sister. Roberta Wallach, Eli’s daughter, is also extremely strong in her bit as the one who suffers the most humiliation from the mother. I also thought Newman’s direction was superb and it’s easy to tell in the film’s that he directed that he believed the acting was the most important thing to any movie. He doesn’t throw any real style into the film and instead he just turns the camera on and let’s the actors bring the film to life. THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS is a very silly title but the film is a real gem with one of the greatest performances you’re likely to see.

  • aleksander-borissov
    aleksander borissov

    Joanne Woodward gives the performance of a lifetime in this gritty, realistic film. The subtle way it presents both child and elderly abuse ( I don’t see other reviewers mentioning the grandmother ) is more than memorable – it is totally realistic.

  • catherine-morrison
    catherine morrison

    Middle-aged single mother of two teenage girls, living in near-squalor due to her stop-and-start career as an in-home telephone saleswoman, tries convincing relatives to invest in her dream business, a tea shop which she imagines will become a chain of tea shops. The woman’s children, an epileptic boy-chaser and a science nerd, regard their only parent mainly with disdain. Paul Zindel’s intimate Pulitzer Prize-winning play has been opened up by screenwriter Alvin Sargent, yet the addition of supporting characters doesn’t change the focal point of the piece: the shrewish, ill-tempered Mama. Joanne Woodward obviously saw a potential tour-de-force in the role, a born loser right out of high school who never made a good decision in her adult life, and yet she’s too refined an actress to carry off this strident characterization. Sargent and director Paul Newman (Woodward’s husband) attempt to make Beatrice Hunsdorfer a bit of an eccentric (trying on kooky wigs in the opening scenes), but this doesn’t work either. Hoping to vulgarize the woman’s personage by putting her in slatternly attire and surrounding her with decay doesn’t jibe with the tony dialogue we hear–nor with Woodward’s precise delivery of it. The girls (Roberta Wallach and the soft-spoken Nell Potts, Newman and Woodward’s daughter) are a bit more interesting but hardly any more convincing, and the Eugene O’Neill-styled ‘plot’ becomes as heavy as its burdensome title. * from ****

  • brooke-terry
    brooke terry

    This film has real staying power. I saw it when it was released, and I’ve never forgotten the story, nor the powerful performances given by the cast. I thought it was a very “heavy” film, but there were also several moments of hilarity. To be fair, I believe that “the human condition” should be rendered in all of its complicated forms, both sunny and tragic, and this film really “imitates life”.Both heartbreaking and heroic, only a handful of other films have succeeded in touching me in the profound way that this cinematic experience did. “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”, and “Inside Moves” all come to mind as vividly and personally as this film did. I was also very impressed with the fact that Paul Neuman, directing his own wife and daughter, could achieve such stunning performances, without familial emotions muddling the final product. I’ve been waiting for years to catch this movie on late night TV, since it does not seem to have been released for resale!

  • lauris-dzenis
    lauris dzenis

    I was privileged to see the original off-Broadway production starring acclaimed actress Sada Thompson, and I also saw her immediate replacement in the role of Beatrice, Joan Blondell. I also caught a touring company a few years later in which Shelley Winters played Beatrice (not my favorite actress by a long shot) and she was just fine in the part. After viewing Ms. Winters in the role, I was convinced that this was so perfectly written a piece that nobody could ever mess it up. Then the movie came out. I have always had a great deal of respect for both Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and was eagerly looking forward to what they could do with so meaty a drama. I saw the film as soon as it opened, and was mystified and extremely disappointed when I saw how totally they destroyed what on stage was a piece of pure poetry and made it into a shallow, dreary soap opera. The allegory between the title and the situation of the characters was completely removed, as was a good deal of the best dialogue. The fragile, heartbreaking relationship between Beatrice and her daughters became something ugly, morbid and downright depressing. The original play ended on a very hopeful note, as the observer realized that Tilly, if no one else, would survive her bleak surroundings to become a fully nuanced and interesting person. The dismal tone of the film left me drained and actually quite annoyed that this beautiful, very real and poetically written play could be transformed into such a depressing and altogether banal film. All I kept thinking as I left the theatre was, “Why did they have to change it so much? It’s been ruined”. The only positive note for me was the retention of the wonderful character actress Judith Lowry (who must have been over 90 when the film was made) as Nanny. Ms. Lowry was the original Nanny in the off-Broadway production and, although her character had virtually no lines, her wonderful presence alone was enough to bring a smile to the faces of the audience. Again, as a fan of both Newman and Woodward, this was a total disappointment.

  • filit-zorlu
    filit zorlu

    Love this film ….. it is a tender and poignant piece of work sensitively directed by Paul Newman and starring his real life Wife Joanne Woodward that has stood the test of time an is as relevant today as it was back in the early seventies when it was made. Woodward is completely convincing as an ageing, frustrated, poorly educated single mother struggling against poverty and a drinking habit to raise two young daughters – one in her early teens keen to spread her wings, and her youngest, a delightfully bright and optimistic child around whom the title of the film is based.The film is centres around Woodward’s struggles to keep her eldest daughter on the straight and level, and to provide a secure and stable home for both daughters despite her alcohol addiction. Haven’t seen the film for the best part of 30 years but I remember it vividly for it’s study of a family in turmoil and all the disappointment felt by the eldest daughter of her mother’s parenting. Nells Potts is truly delightful as the youngest daughter Nell, who is the beacon of hope and optimism from which the film draws its strength. A beautiful film for it’s time …. one I would love to show to my own children.

  • mark-hamilton
    mark hamilton

    This film and “Desert Bloom” portray frail individuals silhouetted against the looming backdrop of the nuclear age. Even though man can split the atom, he is still emotionally unstable and self-destructive. Both films imply that this combination of brilliance and instability has led civilization to the brink of total destruction. However, neither film is propaganda.”The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” is more than propaganda. It is an unbiased exposition on the psyche of twentieth-century man.”Marigolds” presents masterfully the discontent of a single mother with two daughters. Their day-to-day existence consumes the story. The characters are easy to sympathize with, and once their vulnerability is established, nothing else is needed. As little Matilda sits on the porch cradling her murdered rabbit, she refuses to give up hope in people. Thus, we also refuse to give up hope.Since Paul Newman’s death, I’m waiting and hoping for the copyright owner to share this masterpiece.

  • liam-mcnabb-morris
    liam mcnabb morris

    ‘The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds'(1972)is the story of a secluded, alcoholic mother( Joanne Woodward) and her two eccentric daughters,( Nell Potts, Roberta Wallach) based upon the Pulitzer Prize award- winning play by Paul Zindel. Paul Newman did a wonderful job directing this somewhat depressing, yet fascinating character study movie. Filmed in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  • laura-doyle
    laura doyle

    Released by 20th Century Fox in December of 1972, Paul Newman’s sensitive screen version of Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer-Prize winning play has been unjustly forgotten. A showcase for wife Joanne Woodward who gives a bravura performance as Beatrice aka “Betty the Loon”. In addition to Woodward, there are excellent performances from 2 second generation actors: Nell Potts and Robert Wallach as her daughters Matilda and Ruth, and Judith Lowry as “Nanny” who manages to create a character without uttering a single word. Newman, the 4 actresses, and a well-chosen supporting cast succeed in making the crux of the film funny, touching and believable. This film, and Rachel,Rachel(68)are tributes to director Newman. Marigolds is not available on VHS or DVD. I saw it at the Brooklyn Academy of Music(BAM) as part of a retrospective tribute to Paul Newman the actor and director.

  • petra-koivisto
    petra koivisto

    I was a student at Read Middle School and a very influential woman had come into my life in the name of Mrs. Jettie Tisdale (R.I.P.)…news of an upcoming movie being filmed in Bridgeport and I was destined to feel those lights on me! I remember not only meeting Mr. Paul Newman, his lovely wife Joanne Woodward but was given the “task” of accompanying and acquainting their daughter Nell Potts with the area setup, the logistics of Harding High School as well as taking my meals and studies with her. She was a regular girl and didn’t act “different” or “funny” and seemed to like me as well. I found her parents to be likable and kind and it was a privilege to have met Mr. Paul Newman personally. He was and will remain to be a charitable and sensitive man. I’m in the auditorium scene…I swear I was mesmerized when Ms. Woodward-Newman burst into the auditorium… a great opportunity for a regular kid from Bridgeport! That was my first film! From 8th grade to age 48 years old when I received a second opportunity to be in a film “6 NIGG*! In A Cadillac” filmed in my then hometown of Middletown…I play the impound officer! Regrets on the passing of Mr. Paul Newman and I thank you for your personal encouragement. Sincerely

  • erika-gregoric
    erika gregoric

    I grew up in a world full of these people. I watched them as I grew from a child. I watch these girls watch their mother in wonder, “what will she do next and why”. The thoughts that go through your mind knowing this isn’t right. This person is crazy and I wish I can get out of this place. Of course now that I am all grown up I see people like this. I know people like this. Some times I feel as though I am a magnet for these people. They go out of their way to come and talk at me. I would say to me but they don’t wait for response. They don’t listen when you do talk. They just go on and on with this absolute continuous ramble from one subject to the next. The Sandwich shop part I heard this conversation before. Just that it was Pancakes. Everyone likes pancakes and you can serve them all day long. People want pancakes. They will come from a long ways to get my pancakes. And all you can do is say. Yep. Because they are not listening anyway. Well enjoy the movie. I get it.

  • zviad-grigalashvili
    zviad grigalashvili

    This film captures with unflinching accuracy the anguish caused to a family by a parent with a severe alcohol problem. However alcohol abuse is just one symptom displayed by this particular family unit which is struggling to survive economically disastrous times, from a severely disadvantaged position. The daughter’s school science project “The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds” mirrors the ongoing American social experiment of economic rationalism.Joanne Woodward’s character Beatrice is not evil, though she does some of the most cruel and demeaning things imaginable to her children. I believe that it’s a great credit to both the playwright and director that we are able to develop empathy for her in spite of these actions. Much of what has happened to Beatrice in life has been out of her control, and yet she struggles to support her family and she holds desperately to hope of a highly unlikely avenue of economic escape (an as yet unformulated cheesecake recipe).This is one of the most demanding, highly impacting and yet compulsive films I’ve seen. It’s a window to the interpersonal relationships of good people who are struggling to respond with vigour to a system that delineates winners and losers.

  • lindsay-sanchez
    lindsay sanchez

    The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Wow! Long title…) is an interesting drama about an awful mother and her two teenage daughters. The mother, Beatrice (Joanne Woodward), is a widow who doesn’t really work. She instead chain smokes, complains about everything, insults everyone, including her kids, and doesn’t seem to know how to raise children. Her oldest daughter Ruth (Roberta Wallach) is a popular cheerleader, who occasionally has convulsions. Youngest daughter Matilda (Nell Potts, Woodward’s real life daughter) is good at science, but is very shy and has no friends (despite being more attractive, in my opinion). They have an old woman as a border to earn some money. This movie is very sweet and deals realistically with family problems. Beatrice is obnoxious and self-centered and Ruth is the same. The only character one can sympathize with is shy Matilda. The film was directed by Paul Newman, husband of Woodward and father of Potts. It was based on a play by Paul Zindel, who wrote a book, “The Pigman”, that I had to read for high school. I think the movie was once available on VHS, but it’s probably out-of-print. I hope someday the Newman family will take some time off from making spaghetti sauce to collaborate with 20th Century Fox to give this movie the deluxe DVD treatment.

  • jordi-iriarte-jimenez
    jordi iriarte jimenez

    Joanne Woodward is an eccentric mother to two daughters in this film about a dysfunctional family. Her real-life daughter, Nell Potts, plays her youngest daughter and is the one concerned with the environment and the effect of gamma rays on marigolds. Joanne has been deserted by her husband and has had to fend for herself and her children. We see, as the film opens that she is far from the sweet doting mother type. In fact, she is so flip and sarcastically blasé in her way that I laughed almost nonstop in the first 30 minutes due to her blunt matter-of-fact delivery of her lines. She also had a meanness to them, which was caused by the bitterness she felt towards her husband. I thought was going to be a very serious film, but this had an very odd sense of humor to it, as she is critical of things and people while at the same time being funny. She also doesn’t accept responsibility for her actions and blames others for her situation and lot in life. While I say it was funny in the beginning, it does become tragically somber in tone, due to the reality we see that she has to come to terms with, whether she decides to or not. The ending is surprisingly ambiguous and a little abrupt. This definitely requires another viewing and frankly Joanne Woodward’s performance blew me away. Director/actor Paul Newman said he thought this was her best performance of her career and I agree. This is required viewing for Joanne Woodward fans. Period.

  • jared-webster
    jared webster

    How does one organism survive, even thrive, constantly bombarded by toxins while another wilts? The mechanics of ego and family dysfunction are the foci of this beautifully simple but devastating character study; the metaphor is a science project. Why Paul Newman seemed to be ashamed of this skillfully-directed and numbingly well-acted opus is beyond comprehension. Woodward’s and Wallach’s performances should have at least been Oscar-nominated; Nell Potts’ stoic determination should have won one. If anyone ever has a chance to see or own this small, grimy masterpiece, wait for the “heart is full” line, read it’s meaning, and prepare to sob uncontrollably.

  • helena-pohjola
    helena pohjola

    A wonderful movie, 1972’s The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds stars Joanne Woodward as Mrs. Beatrice Hunsdorfer, an unhappy widowed woman who struggles to cope with daily life while raising two teenage daughters. Paul Newman’s directing is superb and given two thumbs up. I first saw this film at my grandparents’ home back in the early ’90s, and loved it right away. There are a number of things going wrong for Mrs. Hunsdorfer: her husband died in the Korean War and she’s left with the responsibility of raising her girls while living in a messy house, she has no job and stays home reading the ads in the local newspaper. She then takes in an elderly lady, known as “Nanny” (Judith Lowry) to get some income. Nanny’s presence in the movie is wonderful, though she doesn’t speak. Her daughters have issues of their own as well: Matilda (or Tillie) is growing marigolds that were dipped in radioactivity for a science project, and Ruth is wanting to spend time with her boyfriend (and has seizures). Little by little, Mrs. Hunsdorfer’s life is going downhill. She ends up drinking and bitching to Tillie about seeing too much rabbit feces in the house, and a number of other things. She also dreams of opening a business–a small café downtown–but is told by her brother-in-law that she can’t handle it. This is mostly a drama, but for me, it is also a comedy as well. It really saddens me that this movie is still not out on DVD. I strongly hope that it gets released sometime soon. To the producers of this film: PLEASE get this flick out on DVD soon!!! A++ for the story and acting and Paul Mewman’s directing.

  • edvardas-kairys
    edvardas kairys

    The old saw “there are no guarantees in life” is given a sad example in this film, wherein we find Joanne Woodward, widowed mother of two, slipping through the cracks of her own life with her daughters in tow. Through a bleary haze of booze-soaked self-defeat, she commands change in her life but is unwilling(and/or possibly unable)to grab the reins. Woodward’s performance is sterling…unrestrained, though not at all hammy. Her character is initially entirely unlikable, though in the end, she has found a place in the pity-corner of our hearts…she is a fragile and vulnerable soul who has tragically broken into many virulent and dejected pieces. For people who enjoy strong character studies, THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS is a dexterously directed must-see mini-classic. Understand, though, that it is quite emotionally daunting, and may touch a bit too close to home for certain viewers…a stark and brutally honest portraiture of human wreckage and its many damaging effects. Beneath the downcast surface, however, lies a glint of optimism in the form of the younger daughter’s quiet perseverance…although she suffers, she has a strong constitution and will likely overcome her emotionally malnourished upbringing. Stellar cinema. 8.5/10

  • elizabeth-lopez
    elizabeth lopez

    It’s tempting to revist a “favorite” film from one’s teenage years. It’s fascinating and more than a little intimidating to see how much of it you do or don’t relate to as an adult. This was the defining movie of the “in” crowd of which I was a member. We were so full of angst (and ourselves) that we were just insufferable. Having said that, I can now look back and say that although the story did not meet our life’s expectations or our predict how our lives would turn out, it was very accurate about how we felt and was able to portray all those awful teenage emotions we were feeling. It’s all about perceptions. I would suggest that any parent of a teenager, especially a girl, watch this and then read the novel. As an adult, you might think it melodramatic and extreme, but I promise you, I remember how it felt, and Paul Newman poignantly and heartbreakingly captures every single tear shed by these two sisters and their mother. An under-rated gem and a teenage must-see film.

  • samoilov-prov-edgardovich
    samoilov prov edgardovich

    Number one on my list of favorites. An exceptional drama, based on the metaphor of society’s role on human condition and the effect of radiation on life.Joanne Woodward plays an unemployed eccentric divorcee Beatrice Hunsdorfer, who is raising two young daughters. For income, she takes in boarders (in this case, a neglected elderly women).One daughter Ruth, a rebellious adolescence, and an epileptic, is heading into the same footsteps as her mother (a downward spiral into society’s misfits). She mocks her mother after she overhears some teachers discussing her mother’s past zany antics.Matilda, the younger daughter is an introvert, smart and a loner. She seeks refuge in her school work, mainly her science projects. Matilda for the most part is the only character in the film who has any redeeming social graces.I’ve looked for this video to purchase, but its out of print. If anyone happens to know when or where I can get one, please email me the details. I have a copy that I recorded many years ago when it played one night on a late movie show, so I have that to fall back on. But I would really like to get this movie on DVD.

  • bogdan-gal-anna
    bogdan gal anna

    I have only seen this film once, at the Tyneside Cinema, an early arts house independent cinema in the UK. I saw the film in the year of its release. I still treasure memories of Joanne Woodward’s performance as the tragi-comic loudmouth of a mother, who is desperate to do things right, but also has little time for the opinions of others. I would dearly love to see it again, but on the few occasions that I have enquired, I have been greeted by bewildered expressions from folk who plainly think that I am having them on when I mention the title. Perhaps this is an apt result, given the way that the star of the film played such an alienated role that fans of the film should now find themselves being looked at in a somewhat dubious way! To those who have not seen it, grab this powerful performance with both hands. It truly is a gem, with a fine range of emotions, and a cast that works fully together. Thank you for giving me the chance to write this.

  • fabio-batista-costa
    fabio batista costa

    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.

  • mafalda-goncalves
    mafalda goncalves

    Joanne Woodward starred as Beatrice Hunsdorfer (“Betty the Loon”), a loud, vulgar, gum-chewing, beer-drinking, unattractive middle-aged woman… Living in a dilapidated house in a rundown town, abandoned by her husband, unable to face the responsibility of raising her two teenaged daughters’ she is disgusted with life… She covers her despair with sarcasm, outrageous jokes and a tough, insensitive treatment of the girls… But she’s also pathetic, as she checks the classified ads for business opportunities, and dreams of opening dignified teashops, even though her house is filled with garbage and she’s a frightful mess… The film focuses on the way Beatrice’s savage, cynical, often self-deprecating humor and her embittered outlook have affected her daughters. Ruth, the older girl, is a typical adolescent boy-chaser and baton-twirler, who, like Beatrice, employs a tough, sarcastic manner to hide her fears and frustration… Shattered by nightmares and epileptic fits, she sinks hopelessly into defeat…Matilda is shy, sensitive and introverted… Although it seems that she should succumb, she overcomes her environment and emerges strongest… An extremely intelligent science student, Matilda wins a prize for her experiment on mutated flowers that gives the drama its symbolic title; and she becomes a mutant herself—a delicate flower growing out of arid waste…The play is transformed from a lyrical mood-piece into a naturalistic slice-of-life in the tradition of the fifties television drama Newman admires… This makes the symbolism somewhat obtrusive, and the emphasis on external squalor—the filthy house, for example—is overdone and superficial…Newman’s attempts to open up the play are largely successful—scenes of Matilda’s science teacher explaining the mysteries of the universe, Ruth’s accurate imitation of Beatrice in a school skit, and a teenaged mad scientist explaining with sadistic relish how she skinned a cat, are especially memorable…As in “Sometimes a Great Notion,” there’s a real feeling for family life, although the emphasis is reversed: here it’s a world of women in which men play a marginal role… Newman expertly handles the shifts from vigorous burlesque to black humor to terror to pathos… And as before, he uses the camera functionally, bringing it close to his actresses to achieve intimacy and character revelation…Woodward again displays remarkable range… As the shrewish, noisy woman, she’s at once horrifying and humorous, but her suggestion of underlying vulnerability arouses our compassion… There’s even the familiar inner radiance, indicating a beautiful woman beneath the flamboyance… As Ruth, Roberta Wallach is a perfect amalgam of the tough, shallow teenager and the pathetic, defenseless baby…The standout performance is by Nell Potts, the Newmans’ thirteen-year-old, who played Rachel as a child, and here plays a Rachel-like character… As Matilda, she’s a model of understatement, with her soft, fragile voice, subtle expressions of nervousness, and luminous blue eyes that, like her father’s, seem to be quietly assimilating everything—sometimes disapproving but more often understanding…The film did reconfirm Newman’s stature as a director… In his three features he has shown an ability to work with a wide range of material, and if he lacks an original style, he does have a feeling for constructing powerful images and scenes… Above all, he was one of today’s finest directors of performers, which has become almost a lost art

  • olivier-van-hemert
    olivier van hemert

    “This is an adaptation of Paul Zindel’s wonderful but tormented play. This play itself is compelling and has a kind of Tennessee Williams flavor; especially “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”. The adaptation is very successful as the production designer (Gene Callahan) manages to transfer the book’s psychologically oppressive ambiance to film; “shame hangs in the air of this house” like a cloud of poison gas.Director Paul Newman gets performances from his cast that pull together parallel stories of how a “strong, strange, and beautiful” flower can unexpectedly spring from an environmental wasteland. His most difficult task is restraining or masking Joanne Woodward’s earthy likability so that we waste little sympathy on her character. But using Woodward as the mother allowed him to get a once-in-a-lifetime performance from their daughter (Nell Potts as Matilda-Tillie in the play). Potts abandoned acting after this movie but her ethereal take on Matilda is right on the money and a big reason why the film works so well.This is really just a story about Matilda’s science fair project in which marigold seeds are subjected to varying amounts of gamma ray radiation (the independent variable in her experiment). Those flowers receiving a moderate amount of radiation bloom in amazing and wonderful ways. However, those flowers subjected to additional radiation either have their growth stunted or whither and die.Meanwhile Tillie and her older sister Ruth are living an analogous story with their mother Beatrice in an extremely emotionally abusive household. In the play it is stated that Beatrice is insane but not how or why she became this way. In the movie the viewer soon reaches this same conclusion. Older daughter Ruth (an amazing performance by Eli Wallach’s daughter Roberta) maintains a fairly normal lifestyle at school, she is a majorette and popular but is very selfish and demanding of attention. Notably she is also an epileptic, which is subtly significant because it is analogous to receiving an excessive amount of radiation. Tillie is very different (analogous to receiving a moderate amount of radiation), seemingly shy and withdrawn, she is actually very independent and has found an outlet from the family in her science projects. This outlet serves as a protective niche in which she can bloom.A truly great scene is Matilda’s acceptance speech at the science fair. She explains the results of her project and really lays out the main theme of the story for the viewer. Watch as she mentions how excessive radiation causes dwarf plants, at that point they cut to a closeup of Ruth in the audience. Both the experiment and the family illustrate that while a reasonable degree of adversity can actually be beneficial, too much of the same adversity will poison life. While this would be a good film if focused solely on Matilda, it is elevated to extraordinary because Newman chooses to also make Ruth a central part of the story. The conventional “movie-way” to tell this story would be to make it an inspirational tale of triumphing over adversity; of free-will overcoming destiny. But fortunately Newman elects to show both sides of the story, in Ruth he shows someone who never has a chance, who cannot recognize her destiny or ever hope to overcome it.Then again, what do I know? I’m only a child.

  • crystal-martin
    crystal martin

    This film has the same wonderfully subtle direction as “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter,” “Diary Of A Mad Housewife” and “Goodbye Columbus.” The lost 60s/70s style for dialogue films with immediately profound social messages is probably best exampled in “EGROMMM” — Newman’s daughter (Nell Potts) plays the stoic, life-dampened child who refuses to let her drunken slob of a mother destroy her brilliance.. at least for now. We’re just slightly distant observers in this style of filmmaking. You won’t get under anyone’s skin or into anyone’s head. But you may have grown up in similar circumstances, god forbid. An excellent film about the subtleties of abuse without coming across preachy in the slightest. Deeply moving.