Dykes, Drunks, and Divas in Fabulous ’60s Chick Flick!


Sidney Lumet has always specialized in tough movies with brooding, hairy males, but he did do one flick about some lovely chick bonding—The Group, the 1966 melodrama based on Mary McCarthy’s novel about college grads and their problems with brooding, hairy males. The film will always be remembered for Larry Hagman’s parting line to Candice Bergen, “I never picked you for a sappho—or to put it crudely, a lesbo!” (Well, if Hagman’s character is an example of available maleness, it’s no wonder Candice went for the carpet.) Film Forum was packed with ALL types last night for a Lumet-festival showing of the flick, followed by a q&a with two of its best loved stars, Shirley Knight and Jessica Walter. “Maybe we were the precursor to Sex and the City,” Walter said in remembering the movie (in which, she admitted, she was desperate to play the Candice Bergen lesbo part). She and Knight spoke fondly about their castmates, including the late Elizabeth Hartman (“She was a little, fragile thing who smoked Camel cigarettes”), Kathleen Widdoes (“She birthed my baby. She pulled her out of me in a car,” said Knight), and Mary-Robin Redd (“She’s married and living in a big house in Beverly Hills,” offered Knight, but Walter corrected, “She’s not married—but she IS in a big house”). The movie? It’s gorgeous, talky, absorbing, and well acted by these incipient stars and lesbos. Walter felt, “It holds up. I only thought it was a little long.”