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Carnal Knowledge (1971)

R | | Drama | 30 June 1971 (USA)
Chronicling the lifelong sexual development of two men who meet and befriend one another in college.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writer:

Jules Feiffer
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jack Nicholson ... Jonathan Fuerst
Ann-Margret ... Bobbie
Art Garfunkel ... Sandy (as Arthur Garfunkel)
Candice Bergen ... Susan
Rita Moreno ... Louise
Cynthia O'Neal ... Cindy
Carol Kane ... Jennifer
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Storyline

The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, those lives which are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperament, especially in relation to the respective women who end up in their lives. Their story begins in the late 1940s when they are roommates attending Amherst College together. Both virgins, they discuss the type of woman they would each like to end up with. Sandy, the more sensitive of the two, meets Susan at a mixer, she who he believes is going to be the one to who he will lose his virginity. Sandy goes through the process methodically, taking into account what he thinks Susan wants, but without much true passion or romance. Jonathan, the more sexually aggressive of the two, ends up losing his virginity first to "Myrtle", who ends up being a steady but hidden girlfriend. Based on what each knows of the other's relationship, both Jonathan and Sandy strive for a little more of what the other has. These relationships also set... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The United States Supreme Court Has Ruled That "Carnal Knowledge" Is Not Obscene. See It Now!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 June 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Conocimiento carnal See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$28,623,900
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Embassy Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Screenwriter Jules Feiffer said he had no idea how Nicholson would tackle the multiple levels of the Jonathan and Bobbie fight, in which the character is "defensive, enraged, contemptuous, and bullying." If the actor got half of everything Feiffer had put into the scene on paper, Feiffer said he would be more than satisfied. Nicholson got everything, and on the first take, according to Feiffer. Astonished, Feiffer asked Mike Nichols what he had told the actor. "Nothing", Feiffer reports Nichols replying with a grin. "I told him absolutely nothing. He came up with it all himself." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jonathan: If you had a choice...
Sandy: Yeah?
Jonathan: Would you rather love a girl, or have her love you?
Sandy: I want it mutual.
Jonathan: I mean if you couldn't have it mutual.
Sandy: You mean would I rather be the one who loves, or is loved?
Jonathan: Yeah.
Sandy: It's not that easy a question. But, I think I'd rather be in love.
Jonathan: Me too. I wouldn't want to get hurt, though.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in NYPD Blue: Colonel Knowledge (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

A String of Pearls
(uncredited)
Written by Jerry Gray and Edgar De Lange
Performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Remarkably Insightful on Many Levels.
14 October 2015 | by ags123See all my reviews

This is not a movie that young adults would easily appreciate. You need more life experience to understand the complex psychology on display. And based on the title, anyone looking for cheap thrills will be sorely disappointed, despite a number of extended nude shots of Ann-Margret. Mike Nichols, more than once, proved himself to be eerily precocious, creating this incisive look at sexual dynamics at the age of 39. (No surprise; He'd done an equally impressive job at 35 with "The Graduate.") This film decidedly pushed some boundaries in 1971, and remains relevant not only for its subject matter, but the intelligence and fine craftsmanship with which it's put together. Jules Feiffer's dialog is spot on, as are the performances. Jack Nicholson, at 34, looks a bit too old as a college student, but his acting is so good that's easily overlooked, and he more than fits the part as his character ages. Ann-Margret is a standout, a perfect choice for the part. The final scene with Rita Moreno is shocking in its offhanded, pedestrian approach to prostitution. "Carnal Knowledge" offers thinking adults a lot to savor and contemplate. Action fans, look elsewhere.


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