Bittersweet Love (1976)

PG | 92 mins | Drama | 27 October 1976

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HISTORY

Referring to the film by its working title, Birthmark, the 12 Apr 1976 DV announced that principal photography began that day in CA. The picture was previously titled Jill Came Tumbling After. Diana Maddox and David Colloff were credited as the screenwriters, although neither name appears in onscreen credits. A 6 May 1976 HR news item reported that principal photography was underway in Los Angeles, and the 22 Jun 1976 HR stated that filming for Birthmark was completed.
       According to the 18 Oct 1976 Box, the film, now titled Bittersweet Love, was scheduled to open in 250 theaters throughout the U.S. on 27 and 29 Oct 1976.
       Bittersweet Love received mixed reviews, several of which placed it in the “woman’s picture” genre. While the 29 Oct 1976 HR called it “a lush, romantic film,” the 27 Oct 1976 Var described the romantic aspects as “exceedingly tedious and clichéd,” and the 28 Oct 1976 LAT considered the plot highly ... More Less

Referring to the film by its working title, Birthmark, the 12 Apr 1976 DV announced that principal photography began that day in CA. The picture was previously titled Jill Came Tumbling After. Diana Maddox and David Colloff were credited as the screenwriters, although neither name appears in onscreen credits. A 6 May 1976 HR news item reported that principal photography was underway in Los Angeles, and the 22 Jun 1976 HR stated that filming for Birthmark was completed.
       According to the 18 Oct 1976 Box, the film, now titled Bittersweet Love, was scheduled to open in 250 theaters throughout the U.S. on 27 and 29 Oct 1976.
       Bittersweet Love received mixed reviews, several of which placed it in the “woman’s picture” genre. While the 29 Oct 1976 HR called it “a lush, romantic film,” the 27 Oct 1976 Var described the romantic aspects as “exceedingly tedious and clichéd,” and the 28 Oct 1976 LAT considered the plot highly implausible. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Oct 1976.
---
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1976.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 1976.
---
Daily Variety
17 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1976
p. 4.
LAHExam
27 Oct 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1976
Part IV, p. 20.
McCall's
Jan 1977.
---
Variety
27 Oct 1976
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Zappala-SLott production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr and asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Miss Turner's ward
MUSIC
Mus rec
Mus ed
SOUND
Mixed by
Boom op
Re-rec
Re-rec
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opt
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
Miss Turner's make up
Miss Turner's hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Scr supv
Equip mgr
Prod secy
Loc scout
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation by
Prod services
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Birthmark
Jill Came Tumbling After
Release Date:
27 October 1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 27 October 1976
Production Date:
12 April--late June 1976.
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, California, language teacher Patricia Peterson and her friend, Roz, emerge from an office building and notice architect Michael Lewis wading in a fountain. Annoyed with his behavior, Michael’s female companion leaves him stranded, and the two women offer to drive him to Patricia’s house to dry his clothes. Michael and Patricia talk late into the night, and a romance develops between them. After several weeks, Michael casually suggests that he and Patricia, whom he has nicknamed “Pete,” should be married, though Patricia does not answer. When Patricia gets pregnant by Michael, he is overjoyed and they plan a wedding at his parents’ house in Vancouver, Canada. Patricia’s mother, Claire, is disappointed that her daughter will not delay the ceremony until her parents’ return from Europe. Michael and Patricia drive to Vancouver, accompanied by Alex, Michael’s business partner, and Roz. Michael’s parents, Howard and Marian Lewis, and Michael’s younger brother Josh Lewis, all take an immediate liking to Patricia. After the wedding, the couple spends several days in Vancouver before returning to Los Angeles. Some weeks later, the newlyweds visit Claire and Ben Peterson in La Jolla, California, and Patricia informs her parents of the pregnancy. When Claire sees a photograph of Howard Lewis, she quietly walks upstairs to her bedroom and falls on the bed, sobbing. Claire telephones Howard from a public phone booth, identifying herself as Michael’s mother-in-law, and as the woman with whom he had a brief sexual encounter thirty years earlier. She informs him that they had a child together and she needs to see him in Los Angeles the next ... +


In Los Angeles, California, language teacher Patricia Peterson and her friend, Roz, emerge from an office building and notice architect Michael Lewis wading in a fountain. Annoyed with his behavior, Michael’s female companion leaves him stranded, and the two women offer to drive him to Patricia’s house to dry his clothes. Michael and Patricia talk late into the night, and a romance develops between them. After several weeks, Michael casually suggests that he and Patricia, whom he has nicknamed “Pete,” should be married, though Patricia does not answer. When Patricia gets pregnant by Michael, he is overjoyed and they plan a wedding at his parents’ house in Vancouver, Canada. Patricia’s mother, Claire, is disappointed that her daughter will not delay the ceremony until her parents’ return from Europe. Michael and Patricia drive to Vancouver, accompanied by Alex, Michael’s business partner, and Roz. Michael’s parents, Howard and Marian Lewis, and Michael’s younger brother Josh Lewis, all take an immediate liking to Patricia. After the wedding, the couple spends several days in Vancouver before returning to Los Angeles. Some weeks later, the newlyweds visit Claire and Ben Peterson in La Jolla, California, and Patricia informs her parents of the pregnancy. When Claire sees a photograph of Howard Lewis, she quietly walks upstairs to her bedroom and falls on the bed, sobbing. Claire telephones Howard from a public phone booth, identifying herself as Michael’s mother-in-law, and as the woman with whom he had a brief sexual encounter thirty years earlier. She informs him that they had a child together and she needs to see him in Los Angeles the next day. Before leaving, Howard confesses his infidelity to Marian; she forgives her husband, but is perplexed by Claire’s desperation. When Claire and Ben meet at the airport, she recounts their 1944 encounter in New London, Connecticut, the day before Ben was sent to Europe to fight in World War II. Soon after, Claire discovered that she was pregnant and, unwilling to have an illegal abortion, she married Ben, who believes that he is Patricia’s real father. Claire wants Patricia to have an abortion, followed by a divorce from Michael, as their children will be prone to birth defects. Howard breaks the news to Michael, who is back in Los Angeles, while Claire and Ben tell Patricia, who has remained in La Jolla. Michael arrives at the Peterson house moments later to take Patricia home, stating that he and his wife will determine the fate of their child and their marriage. That night, Patricia and Michael sleep in separate rooms. The next morning, Patricia goes for a walk, unable to face Michael until she has had time to think. Meanwhile, Ben loses his patience with Claire, who is obsessed with the idea of Patricia having an abortion, but cares little that she has been deceiving her husband for thirty years. Patricia consults with a family planning councilor, but she is unwilling to terminate the pregnancy, even though she worries that the child may be deformed. While Michael supports Patricia’s decision, he shares her concerns and studies books on genetics to better understand the risks. Claire tries to convince Patricia, who is now more than six months pregnant, to seek an illegal abortion; Patricia is horrified and accuses her mother of being more concerned with keeping her secret than with the welfare of her grandchild. Ben also becomes disillusioned with Claire, which causes a rift in their marriage. Several days before Christmas, Alex, who suspects Michael and Patricia of having marital problems, offers them the use of his cabin in the mountains as a retreat. During their stay, Michael tries to convince Patricia that they can have a normal marriage, but she is resistant to the idea. His attempts to celebrate Christmas do nothing to improve her sullen mood until a group of carolers appear at the door. However, when they return home, Patricia’s disinterest in returning to work and her reluctance to seek prenatal care compels Michael to seek the help of a psychiatrist. When Michael complains that he feels helpless and isolated around Patricia, the doctor explains that incest carries a cultural stigma that is hard to overcome. Patricia gives birth to a daughter named Amy, who is free of deformities. Six weeks later, Michael proposes inviting some friends to the house to celebrate Amy’s birth, but Patricia is not ready to socialize. After dinner, they start to make love, until Patricia begs Michael to stop. The next day, Michael moves out of the house. Patricia tries to accept Michael’s belief that they can live as a normal family, but she is unable to forget that he is also her brother. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.