Rachel, Rachel (1968)
This melodrama finds Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward) a 35 year old virgin schoolteacher still living with her widowed mother. Her best friend is Calla (Estelle Parsons), whose life mirror Rachel's own single, lonely existence. Calla invites Rachel to attend a religious revival meeting with her. When Calla makes a pass at Rachel, the biological alarm goes off on Rachel's clock. The neurotic Rachel flashes back to her childhood, explaining some of her psychological musings. She is determined that if she does not change her ways, she will become a lesbian or an old maid. Fearful of either fate, she enters into a love affair with a childhood friend who returns to visit the old home town. Her possessive behavior frightens the man, who claims to be married and flees. Rachel believes she is pregnant and rejoices in becoming a mother. Her pregnancy turns out to be a benign ovarian cyst and wishful thinking on her part. Rachel makes plans to leave for Oregon in an effort to start over and begin a new life in another town. Taken from the Margaret Laurence novel "A Jest From God", Stewart Stern received and Oscar nomination for his screenplay. Also nominated were Woodward and Parsons for their compelling portrayal of lonely near spinsters, and the picture itself. This marks the directorial debut for Woodward's husband, actor Paul Newman. Both received accolades from the New York film critics. … More
as Rachel Cameron
as Nick Kazlik
as Mrs. Cameron
as Calla Mackie
as Niall Cameron
as Hector Jonas
as Leighton Siddley
as Rev. Wood
as Rachel as a Child
as Lee Shabab
as Nick as a child
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Critic Reviews for Rachel, Rachel
Well-directed by Paul Newman, the film chronicles the ordinary life of its unsung heroine, a small-town spinsterish teacher, beautifully played by Joanne Woodward.
Fine acting all around (Joanne Woodward especially), and sensitive Paul Newman direction.
Audience Reviews for Rachel, Rachel
A bit flawed by the excess of flashbacks and oniric sequences. Nevertheless, amazing performance by Mrs. NewmanMore
Joanne Woodward stars a Rachel, a timid and sexually frustrated 35-year old schoolteacher who's desperate for a change in her life; a summer fling throws her emotions into chaos. A slow, quiet film about ordinary sadness and triumph; the movie requires a star turn from Woodward to pull it off, and gets it.More
Paul Newman directs this at times great film about an old spinster school teacher who lives above a funeral parlor with her elderly mother. Well, the terms "old" and "spinster" are relative as she's only 35 years old. She does, however, conduct herself in the manner of a senior citizen. She tells her fellow school teacher Calla Mackie (Estelle Parsons), "I'm at the exact halfway point of life. After this year, I'm no longer ascending, I'm descending... into the grave". Very morbid thoughts, but she comes by them naturally though, as her father was a mortician and she grew up with some frankly traumatizing deaths being paraded before her eyes (not to mention the teasing she suffered at the hands of her peers because of her father's gruesome career). It's a sad life of a woman nearing 40. Joanne Woodward plays Rachel as a sort of updated version of "Marty", only she's stuck in the midwest with no visible hope of escape. Worse, it's the height of the sexual revolution, and spinster Rachel spends her saturday nights making sandwiches for her mother's bridge games. It's enough to give one an unstable mentality, and Rachel's head is filled with frequent morbid fantasies. When a childhood friend comes back to town, he openly admits to looking for "a little action". Instead of recoiling from his lewd sexual advances, she plays coy yet intrigued by his attempts to lure her away from her security blanket. Unlike Marty, Rachel doesn't seem to suffer from any great self-loathing, she's just resigned to the fact that life has ceased to grow for her, and that she's stuck until the day she dies. Director Newman displays a great talent behind the camera and Joanne Woodward gives one of her greatest performances as the emotionally charged Rachel. If it was incongruous at the time of the sexual revolution, this coming-of-age-past-your-prime melodrama has grown to be appreciated whereas other films from that era might seem dated and corny by today's standards.More
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