The Sterile Cuckoo

  • 1969
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Comedy, Romance

Pakula's directorial debut, after he had produced pictures directed by his partner, Robert Mulligan, is thoroughly crafted. Unlike many first-timers (especially during the indulgent late 60s), Pakula uses understatement, avoids cinematic tricks, and carefully guides young stars Minnelli (who was nominated for an Oscar) and Burton, who was making his screen...read more

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Pakula's directorial debut, after he had produced pictures directed by his partner, Robert Mulligan, is thoroughly crafted. Unlike many first-timers (especially during the indulgent late 60s), Pakula uses understatement, avoids cinematic tricks, and carefully guides young stars Minnelli

(who was nominated for an Oscar) and Burton, who was making his screen debut after starring on Broadway for three years in the title role of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Shot primarily at the Hamilton College campus in upstate New York, the film is a youth-oriented tearjerker that is just

perceptive enough to transcend the genre.

Minnelli and Burton meet on a bus going up to school; her quirky behavior during the ride embarrasses him and he's relieved to discover that they're attending different colleges. He's a quiet young man studying etymology; she's a motherless waif with a neglectful father. Burton settles into his

dorm room with slob McIntire, a beer-drinking boor and bore who talks endlessly of his sexual conquests, and is stunned when Minelli arrives and announces that she intends to spend the weekend. The strained relationship develops into romance, but the two have different expectations for the future.

Minelli's boilerplate "lovable kook" is a matter of taste--Liza worshippers should swoon; others may wince. Burton, who seemed to disappear after his next picture, FORTUNE AND MEN'S EYES, is excellent. The syrupy theme song, "Come Saturday Morning" (Fred Karlin, Dory Previn), was a big hit for The

Sandpipers.

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  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Pakula's directorial debut, after he had produced pictures directed by his partner, Robert Mulligan, is thoroughly crafted. Unlike many first-timers (especially during the indulgent late 60s), Pakula uses understatement, avoids cinematic tricks, and carefu… (more)

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