Such Good Friends (1971)

R | 100-101 mins | Black comedy | December 1971

Director:

Otto Preminger

Producer:

Otto Preminger

Cinematographer:

Gayne Rescher

Editor:

Harry Howard

Production Designer:

Rouben Ter-Arutunian

Production Company:

Sigma Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

A Feb 1970 DV article noted that producer-director Otto Preminger had engaged in a spirited bidding war for the rights of former magazine editor Lois Gould's first novel, Such Good Friends . An Aug 1970 HR item noted that Preminger had signed husband and wife John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion to write the screenplay. Filmfacts noted that a newspaper columnist reported that Dunne stated it had taken four weeks to write a first draft and eighteen more to write a second. However, the extent of Dunne and Didion's contribution to the released film has not been determined. Esther Dale was a pseudonym for writer Elaine May, who, according to Filmfacts and news items, did not want to take credit for a screenplay she wrote but did not direct. May gave no explanation as to why she took the name, which was also the name of a veteran Hollywood character actress, as a pseudonym. The film was shot entirely on location in New York City.
       Such Good Friends contains several flashbacks from "Julie's" point-of-view as she recalls various incidents in her life that have affected her emotional and sexual insecurities. At three points in the film, after feeling sexually adventuresome, Julie inexplicably says out loud: “This is what I am Tom, do you still want me for your wife?” There is no character named “Tom” seen or identified in the film. Costume designer Hope Bryce was Preminger’s wife and associate producer and production manager Erik Lee Preminger, his son. Such Good Friends marked the first time Preminger ... More Less

A Feb 1970 DV article noted that producer-director Otto Preminger had engaged in a spirited bidding war for the rights of former magazine editor Lois Gould's first novel, Such Good Friends . An Aug 1970 HR item noted that Preminger had signed husband and wife John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion to write the screenplay. Filmfacts noted that a newspaper columnist reported that Dunne stated it had taken four weeks to write a first draft and eighteen more to write a second. However, the extent of Dunne and Didion's contribution to the released film has not been determined. Esther Dale was a pseudonym for writer Elaine May, who, according to Filmfacts and news items, did not want to take credit for a screenplay she wrote but did not direct. May gave no explanation as to why she took the name, which was also the name of a veteran Hollywood character actress, as a pseudonym. The film was shot entirely on location in New York City.
       Such Good Friends contains several flashbacks from "Julie's" point-of-view as she recalls various incidents in her life that have affected her emotional and sexual insecurities. At three points in the film, after feeling sexually adventuresome, Julie inexplicably says out loud: “This is what I am Tom, do you still want me for your wife?” There is no character named “Tom” seen or identified in the film. Costume designer Hope Bryce was Preminger’s wife and associate producer and production manager Erik Lee Preminger, his son. Such Good Friends marked the first time Preminger worked with Erik, his son with famous striptease dancer Gypsy Rose Lee, whom Preminger legally adopted as an adult.
       The film received mixed reviews, several critics commenting on its excessive "vulgarity," including Burgess Meredith's brief nude scene and James Coco struggling with a girdle. Although one critic labeled Such Good Friends "perhaps the worst picture of 1971," the NYT praised Preminger for making the "toughest, most interesting film in years" which, despite its "epic vulgarity," included comic set pieces that were "the last word on the real grubbiness of certain kinds of urban sophistication." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1970.
---
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1971.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 704-07.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Aug 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
16 Dec 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1971.
---
New York Times
22 Dec 1971
p. 28.
Variety
8 Dec 1971.
---
Variety
22 Dec 1971
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Otto Preminger Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Chief elec
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop master
Prop master
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
Cost from
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles
& Associates
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod pub
Prod mgr
Asst unit mgr
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Such Good Friends by Lois Gould (New York, 1970).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Suddenly It's All Tomorrow," music by Thomas Z. Shepard, lyrics by Robert Brittan, sung by O. C. Smith.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1971
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 December 1971
New York opening: 21 December 1971
Production Date:
7 July--early September 1971in New York City
Copyright Claimant:
Sigma Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 December 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40476
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Lenses/Prints
Lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
100-101
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Julie Messinger, a bright and attractive Manhattan wife and mother of two small boys, yearns for personal and sexual validation after seven years of marriage to successful, handsome magazine editor Richard. At a party celebrating the publication of Richard’s first book, a children’s fiction addressing melancholia, Julie surprises her husband by wearing a see-through mesh top without a bra. Fantasizing that her attire will drive the men around her wild with desire, Julie is taken aback when Richard introduces her to aging author Bernard Kalman and she visualizes him naked, flabby and unattractive. Later at a private party, the Messingers join their friends, photographer Cal Whiting, his girl friend, aspiring actress Miranda Graham and physician Timmy Spector. Richard reveals that he is having minor surgery the next morning to remove a mole on his neck. Surprised to discover that Richard will be anesthetized, Julie learns from Timmy that the procedure is a precaution as the mole is near a major artery. That night at home, Richard rebuffs Julie’s attempts to have sex and when she explains that she is offering herself to him as a gift, he frankly tells her a gift has to be wanted to have any meaning. The next morning after dropping in at his office to oversee Cal’s photo layout for the magazine’s next issue, Richard goes into the hospital, making numerous jokes about dying. After the surgery, Julie visits Richard in his room, where he expresses concern that he is receiving a blood transfusion, but Timmy assures the Messingers that this is a common post-operative procedure. That night, however, Timmy contacts Julie to tell ... +


Julie Messinger, a bright and attractive Manhattan wife and mother of two small boys, yearns for personal and sexual validation after seven years of marriage to successful, handsome magazine editor Richard. At a party celebrating the publication of Richard’s first book, a children’s fiction addressing melancholia, Julie surprises her husband by wearing a see-through mesh top without a bra. Fantasizing that her attire will drive the men around her wild with desire, Julie is taken aback when Richard introduces her to aging author Bernard Kalman and she visualizes him naked, flabby and unattractive. Later at a private party, the Messingers join their friends, photographer Cal Whiting, his girl friend, aspiring actress Miranda Graham and physician Timmy Spector. Richard reveals that he is having minor surgery the next morning to remove a mole on his neck. Surprised to discover that Richard will be anesthetized, Julie learns from Timmy that the procedure is a precaution as the mole is near a major artery. That night at home, Richard rebuffs Julie’s attempts to have sex and when she explains that she is offering herself to him as a gift, he frankly tells her a gift has to be wanted to have any meaning. The next morning after dropping in at his office to oversee Cal’s photo layout for the magazine’s next issue, Richard goes into the hospital, making numerous jokes about dying. After the surgery, Julie visits Richard in his room, where he expresses concern that he is receiving a blood transfusion, but Timmy assures the Messingers that this is a common post-operative procedure. That night, however, Timmy contacts Julie to tell her that Richard has developed unexpected complications. Arriving back at the hospital, Julie is stunned to find Richard in a coma in the intensive care unit. Timmy admits that during surgery, the surgeon accidentally nicked Richard’s artery, requiring the transfusion to which Richard had a rare reaction. When Timmy gives Julie Richard’s wedding ring because it is cutting off his circulation, she recalls their wedding night and Richard’s physical and emotional insensitivity to her virginity. As Timmy calms the anxious Julie, she remembers her insecurity over her looks as a teenager and the reassurances of school friend Emily Lapham. Timmy asks Julie to contact as many of Richard’s friends as possible to give blood to replenish the hospital blood bank and within an hour, the entire waiting room is filled with the Messingers’ friends and family, gossiping and chatting over the harried nurses. That night, as Julie settles into the couple’s king-sized bed alone, she remembers her mother telling her as a teenager that despite her plain looks, her ample breasts would surely attract the attentions of men. Reflecting on her sexual relationship with Richard, Julie wonders why he began rejecting her intimacies just as she became sexually confident. The next day, Timmy introduces Julie to three medical specialists who confuse her by explaining that although Richard has overcome the reaction to the transfusion, his liver has sustained damage requiring serious treatment. At the ICU, Julie finds her mother and several friends. Startled to see Emily, Julie recalls that they once had a brief affair just after the Messingers’ marriage. Disturbed by Timmy’s pointed questions about Richard’s health insurance, Julie sits with her comatose husband and mulls over his recent numerous nights away from home and exasperated explanations that he cannot tolerate their raucous sons. The next day, Julie gives Timmy Richard’s insurance information and he tells her that Richard must undergo dialysis as his kidneys are now affected. Unsettled, Julie agrees to go to breakfast with Cal, and is concerned when he begins drinking heavily. Cal then reveals that he and Miranda have quarreled because she admitted to having an affair for over a year. When Julie expresses surprise, Cal stuns her by adding that Richard was the man with whom Miranda was having the affair. Although Cal tries to mollify Julie, she is deeply distressed and seeks out her mother who is having a spa treatment. Unable to confess Richard’s infidelity directly, Julie simply asks her mother for advice on depression and her mother recommends a full beauty treatment. Later, Julie visits Miranda who is rehearsing with a Shakespearean acting troop. Miranda admits the relationship with Richard, acknowledging that knowing Julie makes the betrayal difficult. When Julie coldly asks what future Miranda wanted from the relationship, Miranda reveals that she and Richard are deeply in love and although he has promised to marry her, she remains unsure. Disgusted, Julie visits Cal where she gets drunk and agrees to pose nude for him. When Cal’s attempt at seduction fails, he swears that he has never been impotent with a woman before. Returning to the hospital later, Julie ignores financial advice from her uncle Eddie and, sitting with the unconscious Richard, vows bitterly never to divorce him and do her best to ruin his reputation. Timmy offers to console Julie by taking her for drinks at his apartment, where Julie relates Richard’s affair with Miranda. Realizing that Timmy has not only been aware of the relationship, but knew of others, Julie lashes out at him. Timmy angrily defends himself, reminding Julie that as Richard’s friend, he owes him his loyalty. Julie agrees and, to Timmy’s surprise, tries to seduce him. Embarrassed to have Julie see that he wears a girdle, Timmy staves off the seduction briefly, then gives in. That evening at home, Julie finds a black book in Richard’s desk and quickly deduces that the initials, dates and numbers indicate the women Richard has slept with and the times they have had sex. Realizing that most of her friends have been Richard’s partners, Julie takes the book to Cal, who is dismayed that Miranda has also been betrayed by Richard’s promiscuity. Julie considers giving the book to Miranda, but then changes her mind. The next day at the hospital, as Julie and her friends wait, Richard goes into cardiac arrest. As the doctors work on him, Miranda arrives with the black book given to her by Cal and asks why Julie told Cal about it. Julie explains she did it for the same reason that Miranda admitted the affair with Richard to Cal. As Richard is wheeled down the hall to have further tests, Julie acknowledges to her friends and family that despite Richard’s hurtful actions, she desperately wants him to survive. Soon after, Timmy returns to announce that Richard has died. Collecting her two sons, Julie takes a walk in Central Park. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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