Such Good Friends


1h 40m 1971

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 16 Dec 1971; New York opening: 21 Dec 1971
Production Company
Sigma Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Such Good Friends by Lois Gould (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

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 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.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Dec 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 16 Dec 1971; New York opening: 21 Dec 1971
Production Company
Sigma Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Such Good Friends by Lois Gould (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

Such Good Friends - Dyan Cannon Stars in Otto Preminger's SUCH GOOD FRIENDS on DVD


Toward the end of his career, Otto Preminger suffered from nothing so much as bad timing. At his peak power, between Laura (1944) and Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), with his career tentpole being (it might well be argued) the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959), few filmmakers could match his audacity or canny film sense. Pictures such as The Moon Is Blue (1953), The Man with the Golden Arm (1956) and Advise and Consent (1962) were ground-breaking and trend-setting, polarizing critics and agitating their home studios even as moviegoers queued up to see what all the fuss was about . The bell lap of Preminger's fifty year career is comprised of box office and critical failures that had a characteristically equal proportion of audacity but were often bested by other films. His hippie comedy Skidoo (1968) could not hope to compare with Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider (1969), a film made (ostensibly) by hippies, nor could his Manhattan-set comedy of manners Such Good Friends (1971) compete with the sophisticated urban satires that were fast becoming the stock-in-trade of younger filmmakers like Paul Mazursky, Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Woody Allen. In its broad strokes, Such Good Friends hews close to its source, Lois Gould's 1970 bestseller. Then the executive editor of Ladies Home Journal, Gould spun a fictive slipcover over her real life anguish at discovering, following the death of her novelist husband, a diary detailing his extramarital affairs. Gould had intended her novel to focus on the empowerment of an affluent but naïve housewife but Preminger saw in the material more satiric possibilities. Adapting Such Good Friends was a slippery slope, with rejected drafts turned in by Gould, David Shaber, Elaine May and the husband and wife team of John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion. In the end, May retained sole screenplay credit but elected to use a pseudonym. Principal photography during the summer of 1971 proved an additional trial for the aging director, who quarreled bitterly with leading lady Dyan Cannon. The enmity between the two divided the production team, with the cast in sympathy with Cannon while the crew sided with Preminger. Upon its release that December, business was disappointing and the critical reaction was mixed. Roger Ebert found much to praise but Rex Reed slammed Such Good Friends as "the worst movie of 1971" and the negative press followed the picture to an early grave.

A fresh look at Such Good Friends at the distance of forty years reveals a film often at odds with itself. It never quite establishes itself as either farce or mordant satire, offering unpalatable characters in whimsical, Mittyesque setpieces that fold fantasy into reality. Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977) became the benchmark for this type of film, although it's Allen's later Alice (1990) that more closely resembles Such Good Friends. Viewer mileage - and patience - will vary. Scenes of ostensibly high comedy (a nude cameo from Burgess Meredith and a gag in which Cannon's character performs fellatio on family friend James Coco in exchange for information about her husband's part-time lovers) may strike some as irredeemably crude, echoing the calls of vulgarity that met the film upon its release. The production is chockablock with familiar faces, including Laurence Luckinbill as Cannon's errant husband, Nina Foch as her society matron mom, Jennifer O'Neill as one of Luckinbill's lovers (seen taking direction at Central Park's Delacorte Theater by Joe Papp himself) alongside such busy New York character actors as Louise Lasser, William Redfield, Doris Roberts, Virginia Vestoff, an unbilled Richard B. Shull and Lawrence Tierney in a thankless bit as a night watchman.

Given the fact that home studio Paramount was likely never going to give Such Good Friends a DVD release, we can count this as another save from the folks at Olive Films. Olive's stock-in-trade is not so much rare films as major studio releases that have, due to changing times and tastes, fallen into something very much like obscurity. (Recent releases have included the apocalyptic matinee favorite Crack in the World, Cy Enfield's survival classic Sands of the Kalahari and Preminger's Skidoo and Hurry Sundown.) Olive's widescreen transfer on this region 1 disc is of variable quality, with the cinematography of Gayne Rescher (A Face in the Crowd) looking alternatively grainy (and, perhaps, optically zoomed) and surpassingly fine. The audio component is similarly acceptable, offering a clean soundtrack. As is customary for Olive Films, there are no supplements.

For more information about Such Good Friends, visit Olive Films. To order Such Good Friends, go to TCM Shopping.

by Richard Harland Smith
Such Good Friends - Dyan Cannon Stars In Otto Preminger's Such Good Friends On Dvd

Such Good Friends - Dyan Cannon Stars in Otto Preminger's SUCH GOOD FRIENDS on DVD

Toward the end of his career, Otto Preminger suffered from nothing so much as bad timing. At his peak power, between Laura (1944) and Bunny Lake is Missing (1965), with his career tentpole being (it might well be argued) the courtroom drama Anatomy of a Murder (1959), few filmmakers could match his audacity or canny film sense. Pictures such as The Moon Is Blue (1953), The Man with the Golden Arm (1956) and Advise and Consent (1962) were ground-breaking and trend-setting, polarizing critics and agitating their home studios even as moviegoers queued up to see what all the fuss was about . The bell lap of Preminger's fifty year career is comprised of box office and critical failures that had a characteristically equal proportion of audacity but were often bested by other films. His hippie comedy Skidoo (1968) could not hope to compare with Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider (1969), a film made (ostensibly) by hippies, nor could his Manhattan-set comedy of manners Such Good Friends (1971) compete with the sophisticated urban satires that were fast becoming the stock-in-trade of younger filmmakers like Paul Mazursky, Mike Nichols, Elaine May and Woody Allen. In its broad strokes, Such Good Friends hews close to its source, Lois Gould's 1970 bestseller. Then the executive editor of Ladies Home Journal, Gould spun a fictive slipcover over her real life anguish at discovering, following the death of her novelist husband, a diary detailing his extramarital affairs. Gould had intended her novel to focus on the empowerment of an affluent but naïve housewife but Preminger saw in the material more satiric possibilities. Adapting Such Good Friends was a slippery slope, with rejected drafts turned in by Gould, David Shaber, Elaine May and the husband and wife team of John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion. In the end, May retained sole screenplay credit but elected to use a pseudonym. Principal photography during the summer of 1971 proved an additional trial for the aging director, who quarreled bitterly with leading lady Dyan Cannon. The enmity between the two divided the production team, with the cast in sympathy with Cannon while the crew sided with Preminger. Upon its release that December, business was disappointing and the critical reaction was mixed. Roger Ebert found much to praise but Rex Reed slammed Such Good Friends as "the worst movie of 1971" and the negative press followed the picture to an early grave. A fresh look at Such Good Friends at the distance of forty years reveals a film often at odds with itself. It never quite establishes itself as either farce or mordant satire, offering unpalatable characters in whimsical, Mittyesque setpieces that fold fantasy into reality. Woody Allen's Annie Hall (1977) became the benchmark for this type of film, although it's Allen's later Alice (1990) that more closely resembles Such Good Friends. Viewer mileage - and patience - will vary. Scenes of ostensibly high comedy (a nude cameo from Burgess Meredith and a gag in which Cannon's character performs fellatio on family friend James Coco in exchange for information about her husband's part-time lovers) may strike some as irredeemably crude, echoing the calls of vulgarity that met the film upon its release. The production is chockablock with familiar faces, including Laurence Luckinbill as Cannon's errant husband, Nina Foch as her society matron mom, Jennifer O'Neill as one of Luckinbill's lovers (seen taking direction at Central Park's Delacorte Theater by Joe Papp himself) alongside such busy New York character actors as Louise Lasser, William Redfield, Doris Roberts, Virginia Vestoff, an unbilled Richard B. Shull and Lawrence Tierney in a thankless bit as a night watchman. Given the fact that home studio Paramount was likely never going to give Such Good Friends a DVD release, we can count this as another save from the folks at Olive Films. Olive's stock-in-trade is not so much rare films as major studio releases that have, due to changing times and tastes, fallen into something very much like obscurity. (Recent releases have included the apocalyptic matinee favorite Crack in the World, Cy Enfield's survival classic Sands of the Kalahari and Preminger's Skidoo and Hurry Sundown.) Olive's widescreen transfer on this region 1 disc is of variable quality, with the cinematography of Gayne Rescher (A Face in the Crowd) looking alternatively grainy (and, perhaps, optically zoomed) and surpassingly fine. The audio component is similarly acceptable, offering a clean soundtrack. As is customary for Olive Films, there are no supplements. For more information about Such Good Friends, visit Olive Films. To order Such Good Friends, go to TCM Shopping. by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A February 1970 Daily Variety 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 August 1970 Hollywood Reporter 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 New York Times 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."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 21, 1971

Released in United States Winter December 21, 1971