6.2/10
202
5 user 7 critic

Desperate Characters (1971)

Marriage of a midlife, middle-class, childless couple is in a rut. Sophie has become depressed, frigid and slightly paranoid and Otto is stuck in optimistic denial. Things escalate at their summer cottage, but no one dares call it quits.

Director:

Frank D. Gilroy

Writers:

Paula Fox (novel), Frank D. Gilroy
Reviews
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shirley MacLaine ... Sophie Bentwood
Kenneth Mars ... Otto Bentwood
Sada Thompson ... Claire
Jack Somack Jack Somack ... Leon
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ... Charlie
Chris Gampel ... Mike Holstein
Mary Alan Hokanson Mary Alan Hokanson ... Flo Holstein
Robert Bauer ... Young Man
Carol Kane ... Young Girl
Michael Higgins ... Francis Early
Michael McAloney Michael McAloney ... Raconteur
Wallace Rooney Wallace Rooney ... Man on Subway
Rose Gregorio Rose Gregorio ... Ruth
Elena Karam Elena Karam ... Saleslady
Nick Smith Nick Smith ... The Caller
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Storyline

Sophie and Otto Bentwood are set in their ways. And unsettled in their hearts. They're Desperate Characters, trapped in a marriage that no longer works... yet unable to break free. In a performance widely cited as a career breakthrough, Shirley MacLaine portrays Sophie in this compelling grown-up drama that, in its own jolting way, is a love story. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 September 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hova tűnt szép napok See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shirley MacLaine won the Silver Bear award and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress. Her role as Sophie Brentwood was acclaimed by critics at the time and is known as one of the finest performances of her career. See more »

Connections

Referenced in An American Family: Episode #1.11 (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Downbeat, depressing, truthful exploration of city dwellers...
3 October 2006 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Not exactly a cheerful slice of life in the big city, DESPERATE CHARACTERS does bring a certain truth to its story of two middle-aged New Yorkers who seem to be losers in a world where everyday daily life is a struggle to get through. It has nothing that hasn't been said before, particularly by writer/director Gilroy who already gave us more of the same in his THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES. And as compared to another slice of city life, like A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, it suffers in comparison.

The trouble is the script which has all of the characters giving theatrical monologues revealing themselves in dialog that doesn't sound natural coming from these people. But SHIRLEY MacLAINE stands out among the cast with one of her better serious performances in a demanding role. She seems honest and real, despite some flowery dialog.

MacLaine herself dismissed the film as a failure in her autobiography, but it does have some holding power despite its downbeat effect.


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