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The Pumpkin Eater

Video cover
Directed by Jack Clayton
Produced by James Woolf
Written by Penelope Mortimer (novel)
Harold Pinter
Starring Anne Bancroft
Peter Finch
James Mason
Music by Georges Delerue
Cinematography Oswald Morris
Editing by Jim Clark
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (U.S.)
Royal Films International (UK)
Release date(s) 9 November 1964
Running time 118 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Pumpkin Eater is a 1964 British drama film starring Anne Bancroft as an unusually fertile woman and Peter Finch as her philandering husband. The film was adapted by Harold Pinter from the novel by Penelope Mortimer, and was directed by Jack Clayton.

Contents

Plot

The story revolves around Jo Armitage (Bancroft), a woman with six children from three marriages, who becomes negative and withdrawn after discovering that her third (and current) husband, Jake (Finch), has been unfaithful to her. After a series of loosely related events in which Jake's infidelity is balanced by his reliability as a breadwinner and a father, Jo and Jake take a first tentative step toward reconciliation.

Most of the story is based on two issues: Jo's predilection for childbearing and Jake's extramarital affairs. The question of Jo's fertility is first breached by her psychiatrist. He suggests that she may feel uncomfortable with the messiness or vulgarity of sex, and that she may be using childbirth to justify it to herself. This does not prevent her from becoming pregnant again, but she follows suggestions by Jake and her doctor that she have an abortion and a hysterectomy, and she seems happy after the operation.

Meanwhile, signs accumulate that Jake has been having affairs while pursuing a successful career as a screenwriter. The first indication is about a woman who lived with the Armitage family for a while. Jake reacts irrationally and unconvincingly to Jo's questioning after the children tell her the woman fainted into Jake's arms. The second sign comes from Bob Conway (Mason), an acquaintance who alleges an affair between his wife and Jake during production of a film in Morocco. Finally, Jake admits some of his infidelities under heated interrogation by Jo. After venting her frustration by furiously assaulting him, she retaliates by having an affair with her second husband. This elicits a similar coldness from Jake.

In the film's finale, Jo spends a night alone in the unused windmill that the family once lived in. The following morning, Jake and their children arrive at the windmill with food. Seeing how happy her children are with Jake, Jo indicates her acceptance of him by sadly but graciously accepting a can of soda from him, a gesture which echoes another scene in the windmill from a happier time in their marriage.

Cast

Awards

Anne Bancroft won the award for Best Actress at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival.[1] She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Harold Pinter won the 1964 BAFTA award for Best British Screenplay.[2]

References

External links

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