Rachel, Rachel


1h 41m 1968
Rachel, Rachel

Brief Synopsis

A small town teacher tries to overcome her shyness.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Jest of God, Now I Lay Me Down
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Aug 1968
Production Company
Kayos Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Bethel, Connecticut, USA; Danbury, Connecticut, USA; Georgetown, Connecticut, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence (New York, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

Rachel Cameron, a 35-year-old spinster schoolteacher, feels that her life has been meaningless. She lives in a small New England town with her simpering widowed mother in an apartment over the funeral parlor that once belonged to her father. Haunted by memories of her childhood and her mortician father, Rachel spends each frustrating day taking care of her mother and working with the schoolchildren. Her closest friend is Calla Mackie, another unmarried teacher who persuades Rachel to attend a revival meeting led by Reverend Wood. There, to Rachel's astonishment, all of her pent-up frustrations are released when a visiting preacher urges her to give expression to her repressed emotions. Despite a near-hysterical breakdown and her revulsion at Calla's tentative overtures of lesbian love, Rachel realizes that only by exposing herself to life can she experience it. She therefore gives herself to a former high school friend, Nick Kazlik, who is in town for a visit with his parents. Mistaking her first sexual encounter for love, she fantasizes about a future with Nick. Her hopes are shattered, however, when Nick, put off by her seriousness, abruptly ends their affair. A short time later, Rachel discovers that she may be pregnant. Determined to accept the consequences of her actions, she decides to go away and have the child. After Calla has helped her find a teaching post in Oregon, Rachel learns that her pregnancy is merely a cyst requiring minor surgery. Though she is disappointed at her loss, Rachel's new respect for herself remains, and she decides to move to Oregon. As she leaves with her somewhat reluctant mother and looks for the last time at the familiar sights of her home town, she speculates on what the future may bring.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Jest of God, Now I Lay Me Down
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Aug 1968
Production Company
Kayos Productions
Distribution Company
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Bethel, Connecticut, USA; Danbury, Connecticut, USA; Georgetown, Connecticut, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence (New York, 1966).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1968
Joanne Woodward

Best Picture

1968

Best Supporting Actress

1968
Estelle Parsons

Best Writing, Screenplay

1969

Articles

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director


In 1959, Paul Newman saw Michael Strong perform Chekhov's one-act play On the Harmfulness of Tobacco at the Actors Studio in New York. Overwhelmed by Strong's performance, Newman resolved to preserve it on film. He shot a short movie of Strong's Chekhov monologue, using his own money, and the result was briefly shown in two theaters in 1962.

Newman's On the Harmfulness of Tobacco is carefully and sensitively shot in black-and-white using high-contrast lighting for close-ups of Strong, who is very naturalistic and very centered in his delivery. Strong does the kind of acting that was favored at the Actors Studio in this period: enclosed, private, mysterious. Newman shoots Strong's work lovingly and attentively, sometimes from low angles as if he were at Strong's feet and wanted to learn. Self-conscious about his extraordinary physical beauty, Newman longed for people to look past his Greek god surface as an actor, and this need to delve deeper is what animates his small body of work as a director as well.

In the six films that Newman directed after his little-known Chekhov short, he practiced the most subjective and intimate kind of cinema. He wanted to put you inside the heads of his characters and make you feel exactly what they were feeling. In his first directorial feature Rachel, Rachel (1968), Newman uses both the narration of private thoughts and visualized fantasies to make us experience what it's like to be Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward), a schoolteacher who lives with her demanding mother in a small town and is still a virgin at 35. The past and the present mingle together for Rachel, as if her life has never really gotten started. She is prim and arch and decent and polite, but her eyes get a hard look in them sometimes that signals her morbidity, her self-criticism, and her very repressed anger.

Woodward and Newman married in 1958 and stayed married for 50 years until his death in 2008. Woodward appears in five of his six credited films as director, and three of them serve as vehicles for her to show off her mature talent. Newman was making an impact as an actor playing glamorous losers like "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler (1961) and martyrs like Cool Hand Luke (1967), but with his wife, he created films about very un-glamorous female losers like Rachel Cameron and the scabrous Beatrice in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972).

There is something feminine about Newman's screen losers and something masculine about Woodward's anti-heroines in Rachel, Rachel and Gamma Rays, both of whom have been left behind by life. But the conscientious Rachel earns our sympathy while the blunt, grueling Beatrice, whose habitual physical stance is that of a defensive Mafia hit man, can only garner revulsion and pity. Newman worked very closely with Woodward to create both Rachel and Beatrice. "We have the same acting vocabulary," Newman said after filming Rachel, Rachel. "I would tell her, while she was reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant."

Rachel, Rachel stays very close to its source novel, Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God (1966), skipping only some of Rachel's more explicit sexual fantasies. Newman and Woodward are both willing to delve into unattractive and private emotions in the films they made together, but they are both creatively reticent when it comes to sexuality. Usually in a film like Rachel, Rachel we wait to see what flashy trauma from the past might make the main character worthy of our attention. But Rachel Cameron is ordinary even in what she suffers. And that choice feels more risky now than ever, even with Jerome Moross's memorably plaintive score bolstering Woodward's performance during some of Rachel's solitary walks.

There is a sense in Rachel, Rachel but particularly in Gamma Rays that Newman and Woodward are exploring the lives of Rachel and Beatrice without compromise and without any softening or leavening. The result is two films in which they both risk alienating their audience in order to hew as closely as possible to what they saw jointly as the hard truth about small, failed, and embattled lives. Woodward's very flinty, steamroller-like performance in Gamma Rays is not the sort of work likely to win much love, approval or admiration. But it does represent what so many players were striving for at the Actors Studio: unvarnished and often ugly personal truth.

Newman cast their daughter Nell as the young Rachel in Rachel, Rachel and as Beatrice's younger daughter in Gamma Rays, where she doesn't seem like a child actress but like an actual and very shy child staring with her piercing blue eyes at Woodward's yowling, freakish character. In moments of high stress in these two films, Newman puts his camera right in Woodward's face, so close sometimes when she cries in Rachel, Rachel that she goes out of focus. Newman's urge as a director always seems to be to dissolve the barriers between himself and the person he is looking at and also between the character and the woman who is his wife. These characters are carefully created and imagined, but Lee Strasberg always taught at the Actors Studio that actors needed to find themselves in the roles that they played.

Newman's honed his own work as an actor and steadily improved as he got older, so that by the time of Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) and The Verdict (1982) he had burned through his earlier self-consciousness and found a deeper, more focused truth, the same deep truth that he so admired in Michael Strong's performance in Chekhov's one-act. Motivated by the spirit of preservation that had made him film Strong's tour-de-force, Newman directed a careful film of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1987) in order to capture Woodward's performance as Amanda Wingfield.

Like his earlier movies with Woodward, Newman's film of The Glass Menagerie seems to take place in a private space where actors can explore tough emotions without worrying about results. Newman's career as both actor and director is a body of work that most faithfully exemplifies the tenets of the Actors Studio in its 1950s and '60s heyday. The beautiful but uneasy student at the feet of Michael Strong in 1959 had by the 1980s become masterly himself.

By Dan Callahan


To read the article at Film Comment and explore the website, Click Here. To learn more about Film Comment magazine, please visit www.filmcomment.com and to subscribe go to www.filmcomment.com/subscribe-to-film-comment-magazine/.

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director

Film Comment: Paul Newman, Director

In 1959, Paul Newman saw Michael Strong perform Chekhov's one-act play On the Harmfulness of Tobacco at the Actors Studio in New York. Overwhelmed by Strong's performance, Newman resolved to preserve it on film. He shot a short movie of Strong's Chekhov monologue, using his own money, and the result was briefly shown in two theaters in 1962. Newman's On the Harmfulness of Tobacco is carefully and sensitively shot in black-and-white using high-contrast lighting for close-ups of Strong, who is very naturalistic and very centered in his delivery. Strong does the kind of acting that was favored at the Actors Studio in this period: enclosed, private, mysterious. Newman shoots Strong's work lovingly and attentively, sometimes from low angles as if he were at Strong's feet and wanted to learn. Self-conscious about his extraordinary physical beauty, Newman longed for people to look past his Greek god surface as an actor, and this need to delve deeper is what animates his small body of work as a director as well. In the six films that Newman directed after his little-known Chekhov short, he practiced the most subjective and intimate kind of cinema. He wanted to put you inside the heads of his characters and make you feel exactly what they were feeling. In his first directorial feature Rachel, Rachel (1968), Newman uses both the narration of private thoughts and visualized fantasies to make us experience what it's like to be Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward), a schoolteacher who lives with her demanding mother in a small town and is still a virgin at 35. The past and the present mingle together for Rachel, as if her life has never really gotten started. She is prim and arch and decent and polite, but her eyes get a hard look in them sometimes that signals her morbidity, her self-criticism, and her very repressed anger. Woodward and Newman married in 1958 and stayed married for 50 years until his death in 2008. Woodward appears in five of his six credited films as director, and three of them serve as vehicles for her to show off her mature talent. Newman was making an impact as an actor playing glamorous losers like "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Hustler (1961) and martyrs like Cool Hand Luke (1967), but with his wife, he created films about very un-glamorous female losers like Rachel Cameron and the scabrous Beatrice in The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1972). There is something feminine about Newman's screen losers and something masculine about Woodward's anti-heroines in Rachel, Rachel and Gamma Rays, both of whom have been left behind by life. But the conscientious Rachel earns our sympathy while the blunt, grueling Beatrice, whose habitual physical stance is that of a defensive Mafia hit man, can only garner revulsion and pity. Newman worked very closely with Woodward to create both Rachel and Beatrice. "We have the same acting vocabulary," Newman said after filming Rachel, Rachel. "I would tell her, while she was reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant." Rachel, Rachel stays very close to its source novel, Margaret Laurence's A Jest of God (1966), skipping only some of Rachel's more explicit sexual fantasies. Newman and Woodward are both willing to delve into unattractive and private emotions in the films they made together, but they are both creatively reticent when it comes to sexuality. Usually in a film like Rachel, Rachel we wait to see what flashy trauma from the past might make the main character worthy of our attention. But Rachel Cameron is ordinary even in what she suffers. And that choice feels more risky now than ever, even with Jerome Moross's memorably plaintive score bolstering Woodward's performance during some of Rachel's solitary walks. There is a sense in Rachel, Rachel but particularly in Gamma Rays that Newman and Woodward are exploring the lives of Rachel and Beatrice without compromise and without any softening or leavening. The result is two films in which they both risk alienating their audience in order to hew as closely as possible to what they saw jointly as the hard truth about small, failed, and embattled lives. Woodward's very flinty, steamroller-like performance in Gamma Rays is not the sort of work likely to win much love, approval or admiration. But it does represent what so many players were striving for at the Actors Studio: unvarnished and often ugly personal truth. Newman cast their daughter Nell as the young Rachel in Rachel, Rachel and as Beatrice's younger daughter in Gamma Rays, where she doesn't seem like a child actress but like an actual and very shy child staring with her piercing blue eyes at Woodward's yowling, freakish character. In moments of high stress in these two films, Newman puts his camera right in Woodward's face, so close sometimes when she cries in Rachel, Rachel that she goes out of focus. Newman's urge as a director always seems to be to dissolve the barriers between himself and the person he is looking at and also between the character and the woman who is his wife. These characters are carefully created and imagined, but Lee Strasberg always taught at the Actors Studio that actors needed to find themselves in the roles that they played. Newman's honed his own work as an actor and steadily improved as he got older, so that by the time of Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981) and The Verdict (1982) he had burned through his earlier self-consciousness and found a deeper, more focused truth, the same deep truth that he so admired in Michael Strong's performance in Chekhov's one-act. Motivated by the spirit of preservation that had made him film Strong's tour-de-force, Newman directed a careful film of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie (1987) in order to capture Woodward's performance as Amanda Wingfield. Like his earlier movies with Woodward, Newman's film of The Glass Menagerie seems to take place in a private space where actors can explore tough emotions without worrying about results. Newman's career as both actor and director is a body of work that most faithfully exemplifies the tenets of the Actors Studio in its 1950s and '60s heyday. The beautiful but uneasy student at the feet of Michael Strong in 1959 had by the 1980s become masterly himself. By Dan Callahan To read the article at Film Comment and explore the website, Click Here. To learn more about Film Comment magazine, please visit www.filmcomment.com and to subscribe go to www.filmcomment.com/subscribe-to-film-comment-magazine/.

Rachel, Rachel


Paul Newman made his auspicious feature film directing debut with the powerful character study Rachel, Rachel (1968). Newman's wife Joanne Woodward stars in the title role as Rachel, a repressed 35-year-old small town schoolteacher who is at a crossroads in her life. Stuck in a codependent relationship with an overbearing mother (Kate Harrington), Rachel has never allowed herself the opportunity to experience all that life has to offer. When she embarks on her first love affair with an old high school friend (James Olson), Rachel makes plans to finally break free of her humdrum existence.

Rachel, Rachel was based on the novel A Jest of God by Canadian author Margaret Laurence. Paul Newman's business partner, John Foreman, had come across the book while it was still in galley form and sent it to Joanne Woodward as a potential project for her. Woodward liked it immediately and optioned the property, hiring writer Stewart Stern to turn the story into a screenplay.

At first Paul Newman reportedly dismissed A Jest of God as "not movie material." Woodward and Stern, however, believed strongly in it and shopped the script (eventually called Rachel, Rachel) around Hollywood looking for a director. Despite the high quality of the screenplay and the fact that Joanne Woodward was an Academy Award-winning actress, no one was interested. "[Stern] and I went around offering ourselves to everybody," said Woodward according to Shawn Levy's 2009 biography Paul Newman: A Life, "but I'm afraid offering the package of the script and me was hardly like offering Elizabeth Taylor and Tennessee Williams."

Eventually, Paul Newman took an interest in the project. Newman, Woodward and Stern began to work on the screenplay together. "I got involved in it about the same way the United States got involved in the Vietnam War," joked Newman in an interview with The Times of London. "I came in as an adviser and found the whole process was escalating until I was directing...There were a few conflicting discussions between myself and the writer, Stewart Stern, until I gradually realized I just had to direct it. It was the only way to settle the conflicts we were having!"

Paul Newman, who had studied directing as well as acting while a student at Yale, decided that he would both direct and produce Rachel, Rachel, but not appear in it. Even with Newman attached to the film, however, the studios were not clamoring to do the project - especially since Newman, one of the biggest box office stars in the world at the time, would remain strictly behind the camera. "I got total rejection of this picture, massive rejection," said Newman. "I finally had to go off in a corner and say, 'No, my taste is better; ultimately, I'm more perceptive than they are.'"

Eventually, Warner Bros. agreed to make Rachel, Rachel with a few conditions. Newman and Woodward would, according to Shawn Levy, forego their usual salaries and agree to make other films for the studio in exchange for being given the modest budget for the film as well as one-third of its profits. Newman formed his own production company called Kayos in order to make the film and agreed that any expenses would come out of his own pocket if the film ran over budget.

Newman was excited at the opportunity to finally direct his first feature film - even if the thought terrified him at the same time. "I'm curious about my taste, my dramatic selection, my technical ability with the camera," Newman said at the time. "There's no way to find out but to get up there and do it, and then let people hit you with baseball bats." Writer Stewart Stern was impressed. "He's the only man I ever met," said Stern about Newman, "who decides what makes him nervous - like directing a movie - and then, with his hands sweating and his feet sweating, goes right into it."

Rather than shoot the film in California, Newman decided to make Rachel, Rachel in Connecticut, where he and Woodward lived. The reason, Newman said, was "because I very much wanted to contrast the schoolteacher's rather arid, dry existence with the lush, verdant spring background - it would have been far too obvious to have placed a barren life against a barren setting."

Newman and Woodward carefully selected a distinguished cast of supporting actors for Rachel, Rachel including Oscar®-winning Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde [1967]) as Rachel's vivacious friend Calla, James Olson as Rachel's dubious suitor Nick, and Kate Harrington as Rachel's demanding mother. Eight-year-old Nell Potts, the daughter of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, was hired to play Rachel as a little girl in the film's many flashback sequences. "It's cheaper to use your own children," joked Woodward at the time. Added Newman, "[Nell's] not impressed with movies. The only reason she made this one was to earn money to feed her pigeons...I refused to subsidize them anymore, so she had to go out to work."

Newman and Woodward worked extremely well together during the making of Rachel, Rachel. Their relationship enabled them to communicate in a special language on the set that only they could understand. "We have the same acting vocabulary," said Newman. "I would tell her, while [she was] reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant...You could see her start off the day, and her toes would start to turn inward and her smile would become forced. She would just inhabit the part completely."

Newman found directing a stimulating departure from acting. "I didn't get anywhere near as tired directing as when I act," he told the New York Times. "As an actor you stop and start the motor all day; it's like running a hundred yards two feet at a time. When you're involved with every facet of the production - script, attitudes, lighting, makeup, wardrobe - you're constantly pumped up and you don't have an opportunity to slow down."

Rachel, Rachel opened to much critical acclaim. "The New York Times called it "the best written, most seriously acted American movie in a long time." Life Magazine praised Paul Newman for having "a sensitive, slightly melancholic eye for something most American movies miss - the texture of ordinary life. He displays, moreover, a feel for emotional nuance and a technical sureness; he is neither too radical nor too conservative. This is remarkable in a first movie." Time Magazine singled out Joanne Woodward, calling her "an actress who inhabits her part as a soul does a body...It is in the transcendent strength of Joanne Woodward that the film achieves a classic stature. There is no gesture too minor for her to master. She peers out at the world with the washed-out eyes of a hunted animal. Her walk is a ladylike retreat, a sign of a losing battle with time and diets and fashion. Her drab voice quavers with a brittle strength that can command a student but break before a parent's will. By any reckoning, it is actress Woodward's best performance."

Newman and Woodward were extremely proud of the film and worked hard to promote it. "I had so much at stake," Newman said according to Paul Newman: A Life. "I was putting my taste up against eight major studios who refused to buy Rachel. I had something to prove, really. I was terribly afraid the film would get sloughed. I don't think the people who distributed it had any real faith in it."

"I hope it's successful," Newman told a reporter at the time, "not because of any financial reward - hell, both Joanne and I did it for nothing - but to prove to Hollywood you can make a film about basic, simple people without violence."

Rachel, Rachel did respectable business at the box office and earned four Academy Award nominations: Best Actress (Woodward), Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The only disappointment was that Newman had been passed over for a Best Director nomination. However, the blow of the oversight was cushioned somewhat by Newman and Woodward both winning top honors at the Golden Globes that year as well as being named Best Director and Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle.

Producer: Paul Newman
Director: Paul Newman
Screenplay: Stewart Stern (writer); Margaret Laurence (novel "A Jest of God")
Cinematography: Gayne Rescher
Art Direction: Robert Gundlach
Music: Jerome Moross
Film Editing: Dede Allen
Cast: Joanne Woodward (Rachel Cameron), James Olson (Nick Kazlik), Kate Harrington (Mrs. Cameron), Estelle Parsons (Calla Mackie), Donald Moffat (Niall Cameron), Terry Kiser (Preacher), Frank Corsaro (Hector Jonas), Bernard Barrow (Leighton Siddley), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Rev. Wood), Nell Potts (Rachel as a child).
C-101m.

by Andrea Passafiume

Rachel, Rachel

Paul Newman made his auspicious feature film directing debut with the powerful character study Rachel, Rachel (1968). Newman's wife Joanne Woodward stars in the title role as Rachel, a repressed 35-year-old small town schoolteacher who is at a crossroads in her life. Stuck in a codependent relationship with an overbearing mother (Kate Harrington), Rachel has never allowed herself the opportunity to experience all that life has to offer. When she embarks on her first love affair with an old high school friend (James Olson), Rachel makes plans to finally break free of her humdrum existence. Rachel, Rachel was based on the novel A Jest of God by Canadian author Margaret Laurence. Paul Newman's business partner, John Foreman, had come across the book while it was still in galley form and sent it to Joanne Woodward as a potential project for her. Woodward liked it immediately and optioned the property, hiring writer Stewart Stern to turn the story into a screenplay. At first Paul Newman reportedly dismissed A Jest of God as "not movie material." Woodward and Stern, however, believed strongly in it and shopped the script (eventually called Rachel, Rachel) around Hollywood looking for a director. Despite the high quality of the screenplay and the fact that Joanne Woodward was an Academy Award-winning actress, no one was interested. "[Stern] and I went around offering ourselves to everybody," said Woodward according to Shawn Levy's 2009 biography Paul Newman: A Life, "but I'm afraid offering the package of the script and me was hardly like offering Elizabeth Taylor and Tennessee Williams." Eventually, Paul Newman took an interest in the project. Newman, Woodward and Stern began to work on the screenplay together. "I got involved in it about the same way the United States got involved in the Vietnam War," joked Newman in an interview with The Times of London. "I came in as an adviser and found the whole process was escalating until I was directing...There were a few conflicting discussions between myself and the writer, Stewart Stern, until I gradually realized I just had to direct it. It was the only way to settle the conflicts we were having!" Paul Newman, who had studied directing as well as acting while a student at Yale, decided that he would both direct and produce Rachel, Rachel, but not appear in it. Even with Newman attached to the film, however, the studios were not clamoring to do the project - especially since Newman, one of the biggest box office stars in the world at the time, would remain strictly behind the camera. "I got total rejection of this picture, massive rejection," said Newman. "I finally had to go off in a corner and say, 'No, my taste is better; ultimately, I'm more perceptive than they are.'" Eventually, Warner Bros. agreed to make Rachel, Rachel with a few conditions. Newman and Woodward would, according to Shawn Levy, forego their usual salaries and agree to make other films for the studio in exchange for being given the modest budget for the film as well as one-third of its profits. Newman formed his own production company called Kayos in order to make the film and agreed that any expenses would come out of his own pocket if the film ran over budget. Newman was excited at the opportunity to finally direct his first feature film - even if the thought terrified him at the same time. "I'm curious about my taste, my dramatic selection, my technical ability with the camera," Newman said at the time. "There's no way to find out but to get up there and do it, and then let people hit you with baseball bats." Writer Stewart Stern was impressed. "He's the only man I ever met," said Stern about Newman, "who decides what makes him nervous - like directing a movie - and then, with his hands sweating and his feet sweating, goes right into it." Rather than shoot the film in California, Newman decided to make Rachel, Rachel in Connecticut, where he and Woodward lived. The reason, Newman said, was "because I very much wanted to contrast the schoolteacher's rather arid, dry existence with the lush, verdant spring background - it would have been far too obvious to have placed a barren life against a barren setting." Newman and Woodward carefully selected a distinguished cast of supporting actors for Rachel, Rachel including Oscar®-winning Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde [1967]) as Rachel's vivacious friend Calla, James Olson as Rachel's dubious suitor Nick, and Kate Harrington as Rachel's demanding mother. Eight-year-old Nell Potts, the daughter of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, was hired to play Rachel as a little girl in the film's many flashback sequences. "It's cheaper to use your own children," joked Woodward at the time. Added Newman, "[Nell's] not impressed with movies. The only reason she made this one was to earn money to feed her pigeons...I refused to subsidize them anymore, so she had to go out to work." Newman and Woodward worked extremely well together during the making of Rachel, Rachel. Their relationship enabled them to communicate in a special language on the set that only they could understand. "We have the same acting vocabulary," said Newman. "I would tell her, while [she was] reading a line, 'pinch it' or 'thicken it,' and she knew just what I meant...You could see her start off the day, and her toes would start to turn inward and her smile would become forced. She would just inhabit the part completely." Newman found directing a stimulating departure from acting. "I didn't get anywhere near as tired directing as when I act," he told the New York Times. "As an actor you stop and start the motor all day; it's like running a hundred yards two feet at a time. When you're involved with every facet of the production - script, attitudes, lighting, makeup, wardrobe - you're constantly pumped up and you don't have an opportunity to slow down." Rachel, Rachel opened to much critical acclaim. "The New York Times called it "the best written, most seriously acted American movie in a long time." Life Magazine praised Paul Newman for having "a sensitive, slightly melancholic eye for something most American movies miss - the texture of ordinary life. He displays, moreover, a feel for emotional nuance and a technical sureness; he is neither too radical nor too conservative. This is remarkable in a first movie." Time Magazine singled out Joanne Woodward, calling her "an actress who inhabits her part as a soul does a body...It is in the transcendent strength of Joanne Woodward that the film achieves a classic stature. There is no gesture too minor for her to master. She peers out at the world with the washed-out eyes of a hunted animal. Her walk is a ladylike retreat, a sign of a losing battle with time and diets and fashion. Her drab voice quavers with a brittle strength that can command a student but break before a parent's will. By any reckoning, it is actress Woodward's best performance." Newman and Woodward were extremely proud of the film and worked hard to promote it. "I had so much at stake," Newman said according to Paul Newman: A Life. "I was putting my taste up against eight major studios who refused to buy Rachel. I had something to prove, really. I was terribly afraid the film would get sloughed. I don't think the people who distributed it had any real faith in it." "I hope it's successful," Newman told a reporter at the time, "not because of any financial reward - hell, both Joanne and I did it for nothing - but to prove to Hollywood you can make a film about basic, simple people without violence." Rachel, Rachel did respectable business at the box office and earned four Academy Award nominations: Best Actress (Woodward), Best Supporting Actress (Estelle Parsons), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The only disappointment was that Newman had been passed over for a Best Director nomination. However, the blow of the oversight was cushioned somewhat by Newman and Woodward both winning top honors at the Golden Globes that year as well as being named Best Director and Actress by the New York Film Critics Circle. Producer: Paul Newman Director: Paul Newman Screenplay: Stewart Stern (writer); Margaret Laurence (novel "A Jest of God") Cinematography: Gayne Rescher Art Direction: Robert Gundlach Music: Jerome Moross Film Editing: Dede Allen Cast: Joanne Woodward (Rachel Cameron), James Olson (Nick Kazlik), Kate Harrington (Mrs. Cameron), Estelle Parsons (Calla Mackie), Donald Moffat (Niall Cameron), Terry Kiser (Preacher), Frank Corsaro (Hector Jonas), Bernard Barrow (Leighton Siddley), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Rev. Wood), Nell Potts (Rachel as a child). C-101m. by Andrea Passafiume

Geraldine Fitzgerald (1913-2005)


Geraldine Fitzgerald, the Irish born actress who, long in America, distinguished herself as a young ingenue in film classics like Wuthering Heights and later as a first-rate character player in hits such as Arthur, died on July 16 in her Manhattan home, succumbing to a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 91.

Born in Dublin on November 24, 1913, Fitzgerald was educated for a time in a convent school in London. Back in her native Dublin, she happily accompanied her aunt, the Irish actress Shelah Richards, to a theater one afternoon when the director mistook her for an actress, and instructed her "to go backstage and change." An inauspicious start, but it gave her the acting bug. She made her stage debut in 1932 in Dublin's Gate Theater and later appeared in a few forgettable British films: Open All Night (1934), The Ace of Spades, Three Witnesses (both 1935). She made the trip across the Atlantic in 1938 to act with Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater, but agents from Warner Bros. quickly signed her and she was soon off to Hollywood.

She made her film debut in 1939 supporting Bette Davis in Dark Victory, but it was her performance in a second film later in the year that proved to be the most memorable of her career - the role of Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights. She earned an Oscar® nomination for her turn and stardom should have been around the corner, but Fitzgerald's feuding with studio head Jack Warner (he refused to let her return to the New York stage and she would refuse parts that she thought were inferior) led to some lengthy suspensions of unemployment. Irregardless, Fitzgerald still had some shining moments at Warner Bros. the heady melodrama The Gay Sisters (1942); the superb espionage thriller Watch on the Rhine (1943); Robert Siodmak's terrific, noirish thriller The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945); and a tough crime drama where she played opposite John Garfield Nobody Lives Forever (1946).

Fitzgerald returned to New York by the '50s, and found much work in many of the live television dramas that were so popular in the day: Goodyear Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Studio One, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; and even some taped television shows: Naked City, Alfred Hitchcock Presents in between her stage demands.

She did return to the screen by the mid-'60s and proved herself a fine character actress in films like The Pawnbroker (1965); Rachel, Rachel (1968); Harry and Tonto (1974); a wonderfully memorable comic turn as Dudley Moore's feisty grandmother in Arthur (1981); and yet another noteworthy performance as Rose Kennedy in the acclaimed mini-series Kennedy (1983). She also appeared in a few television programs: St. Elswhere, Cagney & Lacey, and The Golden Girls before ill-health forced her to retire by the early '90s. Among the relatives that survive her are her son, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Brideshead Revisited; a daughter, Susan Scheftel; and her great-niece, the English actress Tara Fitzgerald.

by Michael "Mitch" Toole

Geraldine Fitzgerald (1913-2005)

Geraldine Fitzgerald, the Irish born actress who, long in America, distinguished herself as a young ingenue in film classics like Wuthering Heights and later as a first-rate character player in hits such as Arthur, died on July 16 in her Manhattan home, succumbing to a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 91. Born in Dublin on November 24, 1913, Fitzgerald was educated for a time in a convent school in London. Back in her native Dublin, she happily accompanied her aunt, the Irish actress Shelah Richards, to a theater one afternoon when the director mistook her for an actress, and instructed her "to go backstage and change." An inauspicious start, but it gave her the acting bug. She made her stage debut in 1932 in Dublin's Gate Theater and later appeared in a few forgettable British films: Open All Night (1934), The Ace of Spades, Three Witnesses (both 1935). She made the trip across the Atlantic in 1938 to act with Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater, but agents from Warner Bros. quickly signed her and she was soon off to Hollywood. She made her film debut in 1939 supporting Bette Davis in Dark Victory, but it was her performance in a second film later in the year that proved to be the most memorable of her career - the role of Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights. She earned an Oscar® nomination for her turn and stardom should have been around the corner, but Fitzgerald's feuding with studio head Jack Warner (he refused to let her return to the New York stage and she would refuse parts that she thought were inferior) led to some lengthy suspensions of unemployment. Irregardless, Fitzgerald still had some shining moments at Warner Bros. the heady melodrama The Gay Sisters (1942); the superb espionage thriller Watch on the Rhine (1943); Robert Siodmak's terrific, noirish thriller The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945); and a tough crime drama where she played opposite John Garfield Nobody Lives Forever (1946). Fitzgerald returned to New York by the '50s, and found much work in many of the live television dramas that were so popular in the day: Goodyear Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Studio One, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; and even some taped television shows: Naked City, Alfred Hitchcock Presents in between her stage demands. She did return to the screen by the mid-'60s and proved herself a fine character actress in films like The Pawnbroker (1965); Rachel, Rachel (1968); Harry and Tonto (1974); a wonderfully memorable comic turn as Dudley Moore's feisty grandmother in Arthur (1981); and yet another noteworthy performance as Rose Kennedy in the acclaimed mini-series Kennedy (1983). She also appeared in a few television programs: St. Elswhere, Cagney & Lacey, and The Golden Girls before ill-health forced her to retire by the early '90s. Among the relatives that survive her are her son, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Brideshead Revisited; a daughter, Susan Scheftel; and her great-niece, the English actress Tara Fitzgerald. by Michael "Mitch" Toole

Quotes

Back to our respective cages.
- Rachel Cameron
The operation was a success. You're out of danger.
- Nurse
How can I be out of danger if I'm not dead?
- Rachel Cameron

Trivia

Based on the 1966 novel "A Jest of God" by Margaret Laurence.

Notes

Filmed in Connecticut in Bethel, Georgetown, and Danbury. Working title: A Jest of God; prerelease title: Now I Lay Me Down.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1968 National Board of Review.

Released in United States Summer August 1968

Released in United States March 1976

Film marks Paul Newman's directorial debut.

Released in United States Summer August 1968

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - The Americas: A National Portrait) March 18-31, 1976.)

Voted Best Director and Best Actress by the 1968 New York Film Critics.