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The Pumpkin Eater (1964)

Not Rated | | Drama | 9 November 1964 (USA)
Screenwriter Jake Armitage (Peter Finch) and his wife Jo Armitage (Anne Bancroft) live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children ... See full summary »

Director:

Jack Clayton

Writers:

Penelope Mortimer (novel), Harold Pinter (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anne Bancroft ... Jo Armitage
Peter Finch ... Jake
James Mason ... Conway
Janine Gray ... Beth
Cedric Hardwicke ... Jo's Father
Rosalind Atkinson Rosalind Atkinson ... Jo's Mother
Alan Webb Alan Webb ... Jake's Father
Richard Johnson ... Giles
Maggie Smith ... Philpot
Eric Porter ... Psychiatrist
Cyril Luckham ... Doctor
Anthony Nicholls ... Surgeon
John Franklyn-Robbins ... Parson
John Junkin ... Undertaker
Yootha Joyce ... Woman at Hairdressers
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Storyline

Screenwriter Jake Armitage (Peter Finch) and his wife Jo Armitage (Anne Bancroft) live in London with six of Jo's eight children, with the two eldest boys at boarding school. The children are spread over Jo's three marriages, with only the youngest being Jake's biological child, although he treats them all as his own. Jo left her second husband Giles (Richard Johnson) after meeting Giles' friend Jake, the two who were immediately attracted to each other. Their upper middle class life is much different than Giles and Jo's, who lived in a barn in the English countryside. But Jo is ruminating about her strained marriage to Jake, with issues on both sides. Jo suspects Jake of chronic infidelity, she only confronting him with her suspicions whenever evidence presents itself. And Jo's psychiatrist believes that Jo uses childbirth as a rationale for sex, which he believes she finds vulgar. These issues in combination have placed Jo in a fragile mental state. They both state that they love ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Electrifying Performance That Won Anne Bancroft the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 November 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Esclava y seductora See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Romulus Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As her son mentioned, Jo's (Anne Bancroft's) car is a 1961 Renault Floride convertible. In the U.S., it was known as the "Caravelle". Produced from 1958 to 1968, only one hundred seventeen thousand of all styles were made. See more »

Goofs

After Jake returns from his trip with presents for the children, he and Jo are sitting on a couch and she moves closer to him. A shadow of a crew member's head can be seen quickly moving on and off Jo's skirt. See more »

Quotes

Jake: What are you sniggering for? Think it's funny I suppose because I tell the truth for once.
Jo Armitage: The truth?
Jake: That I'm capable of fancying somebody else. I'm a perfectly normal man and I'm capable of fancying somebody else.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Castaway (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Scenes from a Marriage
8 September 2008 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"The Pumpkin Eater" is the story of a bad marriage and a character study of the wife, Jo Armitage (Anne Bancroft) and a partial study of the husband, Jake (Peter Finch). Directed by Jack Clayton and with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, the film has a good deal that is unspoken; it's obtuse at times and can leave the viewer with a lot of questions. It's not a film for everyone, as it moves slowly - I can't see audiences of today going for it - it's totally character driven.

Jo is a woman whose fulfillment comes from children and pregnancy. We first see her standing in her home with a stunned look on her face and reminiscing about different facets of her life. One facet is as a happy young woman living in a barn and being introduced to fledgling screenwriter Jake by her second husband. In the next flashback, she's with Jake and discussing the upcoming marriage with her father (Cedric Hardwicke). He's blunt - she has too many kids - so he offers to pay to send the two oldest boys to boarding school, and he also leases a house for them.

The film is not entirely in flashback. It switches back and forth and finally settles in the present. Quite early on, we return to Jo today standing in the house. She goes to Harrod's and has a nervous breakdown.

Jo is in love with a man who loves her as best he can, but it's not enough for her. They have a child together, and though he loves and is good to all of the children, they get in the way of his relationship with Jo. He invites her to a film set in Morocco; she doesn't go. She becomes pregnant again; he tells her that he thought at this point, with the money they have, that they would be free to travel. Now they're back where they started. We suspect when we meet a young woman, Philpot (Maggie Smith) who stays with the family for a time because she's been put out of her flat, that Jake cheats. Jo suspects it; he denies it. Then she gets some devastating news from an odd friend (James Mason).

One is really left with a bad feeling about marriage, and as someone on this board pointed out, it's easy to see both sides of the situation. The psychiatrist Jo sees asks her, can she only justify having sex if she becomes pregnant? When the psychiatrist tells her he's going away for two weeks and can't see her, he tries to make future appointments and she says she can't make it. She evidently feels rejection very easily. Jo needs to be needed and wanted, and she loves the honeymoon -the new man, the new baby - but she can't handle much of the aftermath.

The film doesn't take sides. It's a fascinating story of what two people can do to one another and what people attract into their lives.

Anne Bancroft is one of the greatest actresses of all time and one of the most ravishingly beautiful. You'll never see her name in a list of top beauties because even with her huge, luminous eyes, her classically sculpted face, her thick hair and her gorgeous smile and her husky voice, she was never about her looks. She was always about a great, committed performance. Bancroft does more with her eyes and facial expressions here than most actresses can do with a ton of dialogue. The camera doesn't love her, it adores her, and here closeups are used to great advantage. Her performance is quietly stunning, quietly shattering, just like her face. She devastates the viewer here in a different way from her more overt performance in "The Miracle Worker," but she still devastates. What a loss to film and the theater.

Peter Finch is excellent as Jake - very handsome and sexy, warm with the children - you could really see why he was so adored by women, and I for one didn't understand why Jo wasn't on every film set with him all day, every day. He's two men, really - he's a husband who does love his wife, but he's emotionally childish as well and takes his frustrations and anger out by sleeping with other women.

"The Pumpkin Eater" is one of those films that you might not even care for while watching it. You might not even totally get what's going on all the time, but it will stay with you. You'll go over it in your head, and you won't forget it. In this way, it reminds me of two brilliant movies, "Damage" and "In the Bedroom" - like those films, "The Pumpkin Eater" is a harrowing experience.


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