Up the Sandbox

1h 37m 1972
Up the Sandbox

Brief Synopsis

A repressed housewife fantasizes about the life she could be living.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 1972
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles premieres: 21 Dec 1972
Production Company
Barwood Films, Ltd.; Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc.; First Artists Production Company, Ltd.
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
United States
Los Angeles--University of Southern California, California, United States; New York, New York, United States; New York City, New York, United States; Nairobi, Kenya
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up the Sandbox! by Anne Richardson Roiphe (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

1h 37m
Color (Technicolor)


Young Manhattan housewife Margaret Reynolds is a good mother to her two young children, Peter and Elizabeth, but feels vaguely unsatisfied with her life. Although her husband Paul, a history professor, adores his wife and children, he is distracted by his career and is preoccupied with finishing his book. One day, after learning that she is pregnant again, Margaret goes to Paul's office to tell him, but finds him deeply engaged in conversation with a female colleague. Unable to tell Paul her news, Margaret fantasizes about asking the colleague if she is having an affair with Paul. The woman confirms the affair and claims that it enhances their working relationship, but assures Margaret that Paul loves his family. Seeing the woman leaving Paul's office soon after, Margaret realizes that the interaction was a day dream. Later at the children's park, Margaret listens perplexed as her friend Cathie raves about her husband's accomplishments while other mothers berate Cathie for her excitement, complaining that husbands never celebrate their wive's successes. Later, Margaret's old college professor Dr. Loffert, sees her at a lunch counter and compliments her on a political paper she once wrote for him, then invites her to a political event. Swept up by being recognized for her intellectual capabilities, Margaret fantasizes that she and Loffert attend a press conference for Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who castigates Americans for not giving women equal opportunities. However, when Castro insists that women need to become military leaders, Margaret openly contradicts him, vehemently insisting that mothers are needed to raise boys who will not resort to violence to resolve conflict. After a flurry of reporters eagerly interview Margaret, she is led to Castro's hotel room by a militant feminist entymologist who specializes in praying mantas, which, she gleefully reminds Margaret, decapitate her male partner during intercourse. After proudly announcing that the entymologist was merely a whore before the revolution, Castro invites Margaret to work beside him for women's empowerment and asks her to share his secret with the world. Bearing his chest, Castro reveals that he is a woman, shocking Margaret back to consciousness. Days later, Margaret's nagging mother, Mrs. Koerner, arrives unannounced at the apartment, insisting that she and Paul move to the New Jersey suburbs to be near her. Unable to tolerate her mother's insults about her housekeeping, Margaret leaves with her children. After a brief encounter on the elevator with a stern black man carrying a suspicious package, Margaret wades through a political protest to reach the park, where she falls easily back into her fantasy world. While a black woman takes care of her children, Margaret rushes off with four black radicals in a speedboat to the Statue of Liberty at nightfall. After planting explosives in the building, Margaret hears someone enter. While her cohorts flee, Margaret, trying to avoid human causalities, rushes to the top of the statue where she finds a man about to attempt suicide. Desperate to save him, Margaret wrests him from the ledge while the foundation explodes beneath them. Back in the present, Margaret awakens that night to find Paul in a fit of pique because their daughter has drawn all over his book draft. Determined to keep her husband happy despite his childish ranting, Margaret stays up all night rewriting the draft. Days later, Margaret and Paul attend her parents' 33rd wedding anniversary with a houseful of relatives in New Jersey. Once again Margaret's mother badgers her about moving to New Jersey. In a moment alone with Paul, Mrs. Koerner confides that Margaret wants to move to New Jersey, but denies herself because she does not want to inconvenience Paul with a long commute. Paul is unmoved by the manipulative tactics, but Margaret grows so frustrated that she fantasizes telling her mother that she would never raise her children in such a bigoted, narrow-minded community, then pushes her mother's face into the anniversary cake. Days later, Margaret and Paul attend a party for celebrated anthropologist Dr. Beineke, who waxes on about matriarchal tribes. Bored after listening to self-aggrandizing academic talk between her husband and large-breasted graduate student Vicki, Margaret begins fantasizing that she is unable to hide her huge pregnant belly from Paul. Rushing to the restroom, Margaret forces her bulging belly into her breasts in hopes of engaging Paul with her new cleavage, but Paul takes little notice, causing her breasts to deflate. Waking from her fantasy, Margaret explodes at Paul, reminding him that she has not had time to be an "interesting woman," being too busy cooking, cleaning, feeding and running errands for their family. Doing laundry in the basement that night, Margaret fantasizes that she fights off an intruder with one punch then calls Dr. Beineke. The bumbling professor invites her to join him in Africa for field research, where they encounter a matriarchal tribe who hold the secret to painless childbirth, but Margaret and the professor are soon speared by the warrior women. After finding Margaret passed out in the basement, Paul attempts to care for her but is unable even to make toast without burning it. Fantasizing, Margaret manically suggests to Paul that she must have a large brood of children. Paul then insists that his useless wife must have mandatory abortions after two children, which prompts Margaret to throw herself out the window. Margaret wakes in the bedroom where Paul promises to help her become fulfilled, but reminds her that he will continue to act childishly until she stops treating him like one. After telling him that she wants a day off, Margaret leaves the children with Paul for the day. Fantasizing that she is about to succumb to an abortion, Margaret is saved by Paul, who fights off the nurses and rushes her out of the clinic. Still on a gurney, Margaret is propelled into the park and tumbles into the sandbox. Upon awakening from her reverie, Margaret goes to the park and finally tells Paul that she is pregnant to which Paul responds with joy. Sensing that she is regaining some sense of self, Margaret leaves the children with Paul and drives off to enjoy the rest of her day alone.


Barbra Streisand

Margaret [Reynolds]

David Selby

Paul [Reynolds]

Ariane Heller


Terry Smith

Peter [Reynolds]

Gary Smith

Peter [Reynolds]

Jane Hoffman

Mrs. Koerner

John C. Becher

Mr. Koerner

Jacobo Morales

Fidel Castro

Paul Benedict

Dr. Beineke

George Irving

Dr. Keglin

Pearl Shear

Aunt Till

Carl Gottlieb


Joseph Bova


Mary Louise Wilson


Marilyn Curtis


Cynthia Harris


Iris Brooks


Vassili Lambrinos

Dr. Loffert

Marina Durell

Dr. Lopez

Barbara Rhoades

Dr. Bolden

Conrad Bain

Dr. Gordon

Isabel Sanford


Carol White

Miss Spittlemeister

Danny Black


Conrad Roberts


David Downing


Ji-tu Cumbuka

Black captain

Paul Dooley

Statue of Liberty guard

Jane Betts

Woman doctor

Anne Ramsay


Margo Winkler

Hospital clerk

Lois Smith


Renee Lippin


Terry O'mara


Lee Chamberlin


Jennifer Darling


Marilyn Coleman

Rose White

Jane House

Mrs. Keglin

Pitt Herbert

Uncle Dave

Janet Brandt

Aunt Ida

Tammy Lee


Randy Ginns


Stanley Appleman


Moosie Drier


Jessamine Milner


Mark Vahanian


Juan Decarlos


Caryn Matchinga

Woman patient

John Dennis


Norman Field


Efrain Lopez Neris

Castro's aide

Steven Britt

Elinore's boy

Stockard Channing

Judy Stanley

Rita Karin

Mrs. Grossbard

Dee Timberlake

Black girl

Juan Canos


Alicia Castroleal


Kevin Bersell

Kid on bike

Sully Boyer

Fat man

Miriam W'abdullah


Beth Luzuka


National Senegalese Dance Company


Somburu Tribe Of Kenya

Tribal population


Bernard Abramson

Photographer consultant

Richard F. Albain

Special Effects

Clinton R. Althouse


Eric Anderson

1st Assistant Camera, Los Angeles

John P. Austin

Set Decoration

Tom Bartholomew


Jeff Benjamin

Production Assistant

George Berrios

1st Assistant Camera, New York

Arthur Booker

Key grip

James Brubaker

Transportation capt

Colin Campbell


Robert Chartoff


Cis Corman

Casting Director

Betty Crosby

Script Supervisor

Janet Crosby

Secretary to Irwin Winkler

Robert De Vestel

Set Decoration

Joe Ellis

2d Assistant Director

Martin Erlichman

[Prod Executive] for Barwood Films

Henry Gellis

Production Assistant

Billy Goldenberg


Gloria Gonzales

Secretary to Robert Chartoff

David Haber

Assistant art Director

John Hammell

Music Editor

Lee Harman


Paul Herd

Prod Assistant, Kenya

Harry Horner

Production Design

Richard Jackson


Danny Jordan

2d grip

Lawrence O. Jost

Sound Mixer

Howard W. Koch Jr.

1st Assistant Director

Robert Lawrence

Film Editor

Alan Levine

Props Master

Terry Lewis

Assistant propman

Andrew Marton

2d unit Director, Africa

Lambert Marx

Costume Supervisor

Rodger Maus

Art Director, Africa

Harry Mines

Unit Publicist

Eva Monley

Prod Coordinator, Kenya

Robert Moore

Dolly grip

Arnold Orgolini


Lisbeth Owen

Prod Secretary

Leon Perer

Camera op, New York

James Plannette

Best Boy

Hal Polaire

Executive in charge of prod

Richard Portman

Sound rerec

Kaye Pownell


Salvador R. Robinson


Joel Rosen

DGA trainee

Peter Salim

2d Assistant Camera, New York

Jerry Shapiro

Prod Manager, New York

Harold Shiffman

2d Assistant Camera, Los Angeles

Frank Shugrue


Ralph Singleton

Prod Coordinator, New York

Keith Stafford

Sound Editing

Tony Stimolo

Loc scout

Shirlee Strahm

Women's Wardrobe

Bernie Styles

Extras casting

Norman Suffern

Assistant Editor

Edward Thompson


Jack Whitman

Camera Operator

Dwight Williams

2d Assistant Director, New York

Gordon Willis

Director of Photography

Irwin Winkler


Albert Wolsky

Wardrobe Designer

Sheila Woodland

Secretary to Irvin Kershner

Paul Zindel


Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 1972
Premiere Information
New York and Los Angeles premieres: 21 Dec 1972
Production Company
Barwood Films, Ltd.; Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc.; First Artists Production Company, Ltd.
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
United States
Los Angeles--University of Southern California, California, United States; New York, New York, United States; New York City, New York, United States; Nairobi, Kenya
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up the Sandbox! by Anne Richardson Roiphe (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

1h 37m
Color (Technicolor)




Character names for actors Jane Hoffman and John C. Becher, listed in the onscreen credits respectively as "Mrs. Koerner" and "Mr. Koerner," are listed as "Mrs. Yussim" and "Mr. Yussim" in the film's pressbook and some reviews. A few other minor character names are also listed incorrectly in the pressbook. Although copyright records list a running time of 88 minutes, that is probably an error as all other sources list a running time of either 97, 98 or 105 minutes.
       The film, like the best-selling novel Up the Sandbox! by Anne Richardson Roiphe, featured many fantasy sequences in which "Margaret Reynolds" (Barbra Streisand) daydreams about situations that take her out of her ordinary existence. At the time of the novel's release it was considered by many critics to be a feminist questioning of the role of motherhood in the modern age.
       Up the Sandbox was the first Streisand film for First Artists Production Company, which she formed jointly with actors Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and Sidney Poitier in 1969, and which released its first film, Pocket Money, in February 1972. Many of the film's interiors were shot in Los Angeles, with extensive location shooting in New York City and Nairobi, Kenya. Interiors for the sequence in which Margaret visits her husband's office were shot in the Edward L. Doheny Memorial Library at USC, with exteriors for the same sequence shot at Columbia University in New York. In an article in Daily Variety on August 15, 1972, producer Robert Chartoff was quoted as estimating that production costs in Los Angeles ran $13,000 per day, while in New York City, they ran $19,000, but only $8,000 per day in Africa.
       According to a October 30, 1972 Daily Variety news item, a negative roll of footage from a party scene had been lost at Technicolor. The article reported that, because the lost footage did not involve Streisand or other principals, they would not have to reshoot the scenes and would edit together outtakes for the film.
       The National Senegalese Dance Company of Dakar, Senegal made a special appearance in the film performing the tribal ritual fertility dance during the African sequences. Modern sources include Jason Gould, son of Streisand and then-husband Elliot Gould, in the cast as a young boy.
       Key art for Up the Sandbox featured a stylized picture of a pregnant Streisand tied to a life-sized baby bottle. Reviews were mixed for the film, with most reflecting the comments made in New Yorker that the picture was "A Joyful Mess-a picture full of sass and enthusiasm and comic strokes that doesn't seem to have discovered what it's meant to be about." In the opinion piece "There's a Cop-Out in the 'Sandbox'," by Rosalyn Drexler in the Sunday, January 21, 1973 New York Times, the author wrote that the film "becomes a clumsy reafirmation of the notion that staying at home and having babies is the best thing for a woman to do, especially if her husband 'generously' likes babies and is willing to give her one day a week off."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972