Producer Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward make an excellent film team as the director and star of this sensitive 1968 movie based on the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence.
In his director debut, Newman directs his wife Woodward as Rachel Cameron, a mid-30s East Coast virgin spinster schoolteacher facing up to her emotions and prospects. Still living in the small town of Japonica, Connecticut, where she grew up, she is sad and lonely.
Woodward is superb but the movie is not just a star vehicle for a tour de force from her, though that would be enough. Also the whole cast play with great relish and success, with Kate Harrington outstanding as Rachel’s demanding widowed mother, and striking performances from Estelle Parsons as her fellow teacher friend Calla Mackie and James Olson as returning childhood acquaintance Nick Kazlik. And Stewart Stern’s screenplay presents a thoughtful kaleidoscope of small-town life so it can dissect what it sees.
Also in the cast are Donald Moffat, Terri Kiser, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Bernard Barrow, Frank Corsaro, Nell Potts, Shawn Campbell, Violet Dunn, Izzy Singer, Tod Engle and Bruno Engler.
Woodward won her only Oscar for The Three Faces of Eve(1957).
Paul Newman: 1925 – 2008.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4280
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