Wednesday, July 13, 2022

#2,783. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) - Natalie Wood 4-Pack


Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a rarity, an American comedy that works just as well today as it did in 1969.

Documentary filmmaker Bob Sanders (Robert Culp) and his wife Carol (Natalie Wood) attend a 24-hour group therapy session, and come away with an entirely new outlook on life. Over dinner one evening, they share what they’ve learned with good friends Ted (Elliott Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon), whose traditional approach to marriage and relationships makes it a bit of tough sell.

Bob's and Carol’s new way of thinking is put to the test almost immediately when Bob has a fling with a pretty blonde production assistant. Far from getting angry, Carol openly accepts Bob’s infidelity, but when she tells Ted and Alice what happened, it puts a strain on their friendship.

Bob and Carol continue to practice what they preach, being totally honest with one another, Ted and Alice find themselves at a crossroads in their own marriage.

Though smartly written by Mazursky and Larry Tucker, it’s the cast that makes Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice such a memorable experience. Culp and Wood shine as the new-age couple whose openness and honesty brings them closer together, while Elliott Gould delivers a strong performance as Ted, whose own unfulfilled marriage has him wondering if Bob & Carol are on the right track.

The standout, however, is Dyan Cannon as the uptight Alice, who gets so angry upon learning of Bob’s affair that she becomes physically ill. In her first major screen role, Cannon practically steals the movie away from her more experienced co-stars, and the scene in which Alice opens up to her psychiatrist (Donald F. Muhich) is easily the film’s most potent.

The final scene of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a bit uncomfortable to watch, but then the entire movie seems to revel in getting its audience to squirm a little in their seats. By examining marriage and relationships in a truthful, often humorous, sometimes brutal manner, Mazursky and his extraordinary cast occasionally have us laughing simply because it’s the only way to break the tension.
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: