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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 30.3%
Average: 24.24%
Pretty Bad: 3.03%
Total Crap: 3.03%

1 review, 27 user ratings

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Carnal Knowledge
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Sex 'n' misogyny '70s style"
3 stars

Carnal Knowledge offers a spicy, very 1970s take on the war between the sexes.

Made in 1971, the film begins two decades earlier - where we first meet college room-mates and frustrated virgins Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) and Sandy (Arthur Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel fame). Sandyís the outwardly shy and sensitive one, and soon begins courting Susan (Candice Bergen). Jonathan has a passionate affair with Susan behind Sandyís back. Over the coming years, we hear the conversations both men have about women, and then see them put their views in action - from affairs, abuse and attempts at wife-swapping to Jonathanís slide show featuring all the ďball-breakersĒ heís ever met.

Itís great to see Nicholson early in his career, generally keeping the scenery-chewing under control. Even the blander Garfunkel holds his own. The achievement of both leads is making the exploits of these men watchable. Theyíre helped by a strong female supporting cast, of whom the doe-eyed Candice Bergen is weakest. Ann-Margret received a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her washed-up, weak-willed ex-model, and Rita Moreno (West Side Story) also leaves a strong impression.

As with most of Mike Nicholsí work (The Graduate, Silkwood, Working Girl, Primary Colors), the film boasts an accomplished cast and a very contemporary feel. Unfortunately, itís not very evenly paced or balanced between the two male leads - Sandy and Susan fade into the background halfway through (Susan never returns to the screen), and we focus on the sexually disfunctional Jonathan. I wanted to see more of Sandy by way of comparison, and how these men engaged with women in their workplaces.

This is an engaging character study. Although itís told completely through the menís eyes, Nicholsí film also demonstrates the effect of feminism on the American mainstream of the early 1970s.

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originally posted: 06/13/99 15:21:56
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User Comments

3/14/15 Anne At times very well acted; honest in objectifying women 3 stars
9/04/04 T.B. I like the old Jack character better at the begin 3 stars
3/18/04 Glenda Cortes Great movie 4 stars
5/14/03 Minna Wonderful, astonishing film. 5 stars
1/12/03 Richard deschambault A strong, shocking view to men sexual frustrations, that is still contemporary today 4 stars
10/16/02 Charles Tatum Good stuff, keep acting Art! 4 stars
7/27/02 I Can't Swim Ann-Margret does depression & laziness better than anyone in movie history 5 stars
7/01/02 N.G. Fantastic writing and acting. Agree about strange loss of Bergen's character 1/2way thru. 5 stars
4/19/02 David Watkins a wonderful and relentless indictment of sexual egotism 5 stars
4/15/02 R.W. Welch Deftly done, darkly comic look at sex in the 70's. 4 stars
8/22/01 Hal Henry A bleak but deft account of a man's fear of intimacy, Nicholson is so good it's scary. 5 stars
6/16/01 Bada Bing Crosby Excuse the drama, but I can't imagine the world without this movie in it 5 stars
4/18/01 bobbuttons pretty damn good...the graduate is better though 4 stars
1/15/01 Skip One of the toughest bravest movies ever made. 5 stars
9/11/00 sam cruz excellent film 5 stars
8/01/00 John Collery Smirking, sneering Jack makes it worth watching. 4 stars
5/30/00 Victoria Santiago An honest, painful look at what sex is all about for a certain type of American male. 5 stars
4/28/00 Rod Johnston The tits in this movie were great. All I like to do all day is watch porno movies!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/09/00 Greg Coutu Overall, a realistic look at men now and then. Great performances from Nicholson & Margret 4 stars
4/01/00 Tino Slaut A good, depressing portrait of several bleak personalities. Ann-Margret is very convincing! 4 stars
3/13/00 T.J. Dotson Nicholson's character hits really close to home for of his best performances 5 stars
2/17/00 Bozo ann-margret is amazing in this movie; no one does depressed so well 5 stars
11/13/99 HFuller Excellent movie, but very depressing 4 stars
9/25/99 jon symbolism, symbolism, symobolism. This film speaks for human spirit. 5 stars
7/16/99 Dennis Forcier Weak, unlikeable characters, but good movie. Ann-Margaret helps a lot. 4 stars
7/15/99 Chef ADogg Pretentious and stuffy to the max. Check out Nicholson in "The Last Detail" 1 stars
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  01-Dec-1971 (R)

  N/A (18)


Directed by
  Mike Nichols

Written by
  Jules Feiffer

  Jack Nicholson
  Candice Bergen
  Art Garfunkel
  Rita Moreno
  Cynthia O'Neal

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