It is a beautiful, deep, serious, passionate, sometimes wry, sarcastic portrait of the generation of American (mostly, but also Americans, of course) who reached adulthood in the 1930s, amid the Great Depression, in the years leading up to Spanish Civil War, the rise of Nazism and the outbreak of the Second World War, and that much of the intelligentsia flirted with the dream of socialism.
Speak with tranquility, topics that were not yet discussed very openly in film at the time the film was made, in 1966, much less the time that action takes place: the loss of virginity, the lack of knowledge about sex and methods contraception, lesbianism.Besides all the references to the involvement of several characters with the Communist Party.
It is based on a magnificent, extraordinary novel - which has the same title as the film, both in the original and in Portuguese - authored by Mary McCarthy (1912-1989), great writer, one of the most fascinating figures of the literary universe of the twentieth century . And the novel has a lot of reality in autobiographical confessions, although, of course, a beautiful work of fiction, with remarkable characters, well designed - basically eight young women in 1933, to 22 or 23 years, Vassar graduate, expensive and prestigious university who at the time was exclusively for women.
Just like its eight characters, Mary McCarthy graduated from Vassar in 1933. Exactly how Strong Kay (Joanna Pettet), one of eight women who make up the South Tower Group, Mary McCarthy would marry soon after graduation, with a young actor would-playwright.
The novel was released in 1963 when Mary McCarthy, age 41 and has published eight books, was a writer and critic recognized and respected. Grupo stayed for nearly two consecutive years on the bestseller list of the New York Times .
Lumet and production chose to interpret several of the eight girls in the group and the men who were around them, a lot of beginners: was the screen debut of Candice Bergen , Joan Hackett, Joanna Pettet, Kathleen Widdoes, Hal Holbrook .
It was the second film by Elizabeth Hartman. And the third of Jessica Walter .
As it turns out, many of the names of the cast, none of them is someone who would be a big star - with the exception of Candice Bergen. Are good, great actresses - but not stars.
A movie now little known in Brazil, an author out of print
I may well be wrong, but the Group - both the book and the film - is now much less known than it should. It is perhaps one of the less heralded films of Sidney Lumet. Not available on DVD in Brazil, according to a quick search on the internet shows, and also had not been released on VHS, I see the Videobook of 2001, a publication absolutely reputable and reliable.
The film has now reappeared, however, thanks to the good taste of some programmer Telecine Cult. It was through this channel that I could review the film I had seen at the time of the launch in late Cine Lido de Curitiba, in 1/8/1967, as reported by my notebook. (If noted, beauty, if not noted, danced.)
However, much more still strange what happened with the film, is what happened with the work of the writer: for a sociological phenomenon which any explanation entirely unaware, Mary McCarthy disappeared from bookstores - at least the Brazilian.
The site's Bookstore Culture, for example, shows that there is available in Portuguese even a book author. Even Group , considered his masterpiece, was reissued in recent years.
I'll talk from Mary McCarthy later.
At the beginning of the narrative, while much information about the eight characters
From what you can tell, the writer (who was also the producer) Sidney Buchman tried to be very faithful to the book, the spirit of the book. To tell about the lives of eight young women over six years between 1933, the year of their graduation from Vassar, and 1939, the year of the beginning of World War II, the writer and producer Buchman and director Sidney Lumet made a long movie, 150 minutes, two hours and a half in length. Although the duration much larger than many of the productions of the time, and today, however, the Group does not seem long. On the contrary: as all that is good, seems to be short lived.
But it is very easy for the viewer to capture very well at the beginning of the narrative, who's who in that great group of girls. Over time, the unfolding of the narrative, the figures of each are becoming clearer, but in the beginning we suffer.
The opening is extraordinary. Even before the special credits, the film gives us a general group of girls at university rich, well established, in which everything has the appearance of something that is not solid melts into air. Each has a vocation to an area - and we see each involved in some activity that is related to your area of interest.
Lakey (Candice Bergen, with a beauty that loose sparks on the screen, to the left in the photo ), for example, is geared towards the arts. It is one of the two most millionaires group. Shortly after graduation, will embark on a trip to Europe to pursue his studies of art history - and will be there for several years.
The other more absolutely millionaire those years when the country plunged into misery of the Great Depression is Pokey (Mary Robin Redd). Like animals, horses, riding, wants to be a veterinarian, and wins the parents' little airplane to get around to the location of the school.
Libby (Jessica Walter) has literary ambitions. It's snobby, gossipy, finds special and want to work as a book editor.
Who else writes in practice, however, is Helena (Kathleen Widdoes), aims to be an instructor in kindergarten, but it is one of the group who writes endlessly about what is happening to each of the eight. Is it also the speech as speaker of the firm - a speech full of hope, speaking on the role of women in all areas of American society, a country, she says, that while mired in the economic downturn, has a glorious future for front.
Polly (Shirley Knight) comes from a family impoverished by the Depression. Shy, discreet, opted for medical sciences, will work as a laboratory technician in a large hospital in New York.
Kay Strong (Joanna Pettet) is another whose family impoverished. It is fickle, merely an interest to another; flirted with theater - where he met Harald Peterson (Larry Hagman), who will marry the very beginning of the narrative, shortly after graduating from Vassar in July 1933 - but will work at Macy's, a large department store, and develop a career in commerce.
Always open to new experiences, Kay is the first group to have sex. Harald fucks before marriage - something quite unusual for the customs of the families of the girls in the group.
Dottie (Joan Hackett, beautiful, great actress in the photo ), the traditionalist Boston, strictly religious family, who planned to work as a social worker, will be the second to decide to lose their virginity.And to choose a subject that absolutely imbecile, a painter friend Harald, named Dick (Richard Mulligan).
Priss (Elizabeth Hartman) is an idealist; vigorously supports the government of Franklin D. Roosevelt - had the parents of most of the group as too interventionist, almost socialist.
Socialist ideals, communism, the struggle against fascism are recurring themes in the conversations of the girls in the group, throughout the narrative.
The choice of the actresses did not take into account the physical description of the characters in the book
Sidney Lumet and his cinematographer Boris Kaufman use and abuse of traveling shots, the camera follows this large number of characters who frequent the large rooms on rails placed on the ground, cranes. Wonderful camera.
The entire cast is good, but in my opinion, Shirley Knight and Joan Hackett shine even more, an octave above the others.
I found it interesting the small detail that Lumet and his team the casting did not bother with the physical descriptions that Mary McCarthy does in the book. Thus, for example, in the book Libby is blonde, and film, the skin of Jessica Walter, have long black hair. Lakey, unlike in the book has black hair, and is played by Candice Bergen louríssima.
Here, the opinion of three critical
"Sidney Lumet transforms the novel by Mary McCarthy about girls in the class of 1933 at Vassar film carelessly handled, pleasant and full of energy," defined Pauline Kael, the first lady of American criticism, then to quote the names of actresses the great cast.
Leonard Maltin gave 3 stars to 4: "Uneven, but overall good adaptation of the novel by Mary McCarthy notch over eight graduates of a university type Vassar. (Shirley) and Knight (Joan) Hackett tower in excellent cast. "
The Guide des Films of Jean Tulard does, after a synopsis that this time it is not necessary, an analysis of long, thoughtful, bright, as almost always in French master guide. I'll report what he says text collaborator Guy Bellinger, without the worry of being literal, and therefore without quotes:
Lumet's film is not without flaws. It is very talkative, with its eight heroines who talk nonstop. In this he is no more than a condensation of the novel dense, long, Mary McCarthy, who designed hundreds of pages to describe the fate of eight young women over seven years. The film goes too fast, the scenes collide and barely have time to breathe in and begin a new dialogue on the field and reverse shot. What causes the viewer to lose a bit between all the characters. But Le Groupe, while not a perfect movie, is a work no less than seductive, first of all by the choice of its eight actresses: Lumet had hand particularly happy to gather a beautiful bouquet of talented beginners. The most beautiful is undoubtedly Candice Bergen, full of charm clever in his first role on screen. The most impressive is Shirley Knight ( pictured below ), which passes over two hours, and convincingly, the shy virgin young women mature and complete. The most exciting is Joanna Pettet, pathetically trying to compensate for the failure of his life. Another quality of Groupe is there are not removed disenchanted tone of the novel by Mary McCarthy.
Grand Guide des Films . What a beautiful analysis in a single paragraph.
The first Brazilian edition, the ear was none other than Otto Maria Carpeaux
The Group , the book was released in Brazil in 1965, two years after leaving the United States, a year after the military coup.Out the Brazilian Civilization, at the time that the publisher threw all that milicos not like to see in bookstores. I won this book, a copy of the first Brazilian edition, February 1966.
The text of the ear is signed by none other than the great Otto Maria Carpeaux. It is a fascinating text that is hard not to transcribe entire:
"Mary McCarthy is now one of the first names, but the first name of American literature, and the Group is, for now, his masterpiece. Anyone opening this volume will soon find some of the pages boldest of all world literature, pages that would not only blushing a friar of stone, but the actual DH Lawrence: the scene of deflowering a girl, described with details of a merciless realism . But make no mistake: this work, which had huge success in the United States and worldwide, there is a pornographic novel, far from it. It is a profoundly serious study of American society today and all that is in it is rotten and alive, intelligence and stupidity, despair and hope. (...)
"It is a serious novel. So is a tragic romance. But the actors of this tragedy are not fully aware of the roles they play. Are struggling in their financial difficulties in their intellectual doubts in his amorous adventures or just sex as Mary McCarthy fish caught in the net of his creative imagination and can not find the exit. Their lives are tragic, but his gestures are unintentionally comical. No page, almost unbootable the reader a strong understanding and healthy laugh. (...) This is the hallmark of this highly intelligent Mary McCarthy sometimes seems the American sister of Simone de Beauvoir, and sometimes, a companion or Pratolini Moravia, the great Italian neo-realists. "
I can not understand how there are no books of Mary McCarthy in Brazilian bookstores
How to explain that Mary McCarthy has not one of his works in Portuguese available in bookstores?
I really wish I had an answer to that question.
Mary McCarthy did not belong to the party, but had sympathies for communism, in the second half of the 30s, however, went on to repudiate Stalinism after the Moscow trials that led to the purge of Old Bolsheviks. Was insistent defense of Leon Trotsky, and in polemics with American intellectuals and writers she considered sympathetic to Stalinism.
(The Moscow Trials, the persecution of Trotsky are themes of the book and movie references are made to it.)
Entered history its clashes with another grand dame of American letters, Lillian Hellmann, Mrs. eternal. Dashiell Hammett (though, as well as another couple of brilliant arts of the United States, Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn ever been married).
Dashiell Hammett and Lillian Hellmann remained faithful to communism until their deaths - he in 1961, she in 1984. Mary McCarthy whenever he could brave the lioness poked with a short stick. Once, on television, said: "Every word she (Lillian) writes a liar, including 'and' and 'the.'"
Lillian Hellmann went to court against Mary McCarthy demanding compensation for moral damages of $ 2.5 million. The cause crawled years in the courts, until the death of Lillian. Mary died only five years later in 1989.
The speech dreamy youth, repeated at the end of the narrative, shows immense disillusionment
The revolt against Mary McCarthy Stalinist purges against the Gulags beginning to undo the dream of a fairer society, is present with all the letters in the film. The sweet Polly falls for Gus Leroy (Hol Holbrook), a publisher of books communist.The neighbor from her, Schneider is a German refugee, he also communist but anti-Stalinist sympathizer internationalism Trotsky. When the relationship with Gus is already about to crumble, and Gus talks on the possibility of talking to Schneider, Polly warns that surely there would be much discussion among them about the Moscow trials.
Eight years after Sidney Lumet led the Group to the cinema, the eternal socialist Ettore Scola in his masterpiece In Which We All Loved Each Other So much, put in the mouth of one of his characters the phrase that sums up perfectly the disenchantment of who was watching Your idealism of young crumble over time: "We thought we would change the world, but it was the world that has changed."
Lumet and screenwriter Buchman synthesized disenchantment expressed on the novel by Mary McCarthy to the encore, after a journey of five years shown in 150 minutes of good cinema, speech full of hope Helena, the valedictorian:
"We, the class of 1933 are going ahead. In a time of economic crisis, in a time that demands that every woman of America plays a role in every sphere of national life. For this we prepare. In the arts, sciences, industry, the creation of our laws. And in politics, we believe all sorts of opinions should be heard. We believe, as we go our separate ways, it is only through our complete fulfillment we will achieve the goal of our education, and each of us will give their contribution to our emerging America. "
Great Mary McCarthy. Great Sidney Lumet.
Note in December 2011
The Group / The Group
Sidney Lumet, USA, 1966.
With Candice Bergen (Lakey Eastlake), Joan Hackett (Dottie Renfrew), Elizabeth Hartman (Priss Hartshorn), Shirley Knight (Polly Andrews), Joanna Pettet (Kay Strong), Mary Robin Redd (Pokey Prothero), Jessica Walter (Libby MacAusland) , Kathleen Widdoes (Helena Davison), James Broderick (Dr. Ridgeley), James Congdon (Sloan Crockett), Larry Hagman (Harald Peterson), Hal Holbrook (Gus Leroy), Richard Mulligan (Dick Brown), Carrie Nye (Norine)