Thursday, December 01, 2011

cinema obscura: George Cukor's "The Chapman Report" (1962)

Long unavailable on home entertainment, George Cukor's "The Chapman Report" of 1962 is rescued from oblivion by - you got it! - Turner Classic Movies, which has scheduled it for an early screening on Wednesday, December 21 - at 7:15 a.m. (est) and 4:15 a.m. (pacific time).

A mischievious, willfully sordid take on Kinsey's findings, this guilty pleasure offers up four text-book case examples of sexually dysfunctional women before concluding, despite everything that preceded its fade-out scene, American women are indeed sexually healthy. Talk about having it both ways - titillating the men in the audience and appeasing the women.

Not surprisingly, Cukor has four terrific actresses taking his cues here - Shelley Winters as a bored housewife who momentarily entertains the idea of running off with another man; Jane Fonda as a young widow who has lost interest in sex; Claire Bloom as a nymphomaniac who is punished via a gang rape for her avid interest in sex, and Glynis Johns as an arty type who finds that testosterone is responsible not only for a man's physical perfections but also for his brutish qualities.

The reliable Andrew Duggan plays the titular Dr. Chapman, and Efrem Zimbalist Jr., a Warner contract player wasted by Warners in largely TV roles, plays his assistant, a thoughtful guy who doesn't believe Fonda is frigid and wants to prove it. Camp doesn't get any better than this.

Jane Fonda and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in scenes from the film

The other token men here are played by Harold J. Stone (Winters' husband) and Ray Danton (as her lover), and John Dehner (Johns' husband) and another Warner contract player, Ty Hardin (as her fleeting interest).

I don't know about you, but I'd like to see "The Chapman Report" again.
One of these days.


John said...

I remember seeing this many years ago on TV. It was either Saturday Night at the Movies or The ABC Sunday Movie. Would love to see this again A young Jane Fonda, Claire Bloom and Irving Wallace!

Another Wallace book was adapted for the screen the following year "The Prize" with the late Paul Newman, Elke Sommers, Edward G. Robinson and Diane Baker. The film is kind of a Hitchcock light including Hitchcock screenwriter Ernest Lehman.

c.b. said...

Wow! Good one. Wanna see it. Thanks for the tip.

Daryl Chin said...

Well, three terrific actresses: Cukor and Shelley Winters clashed almost immediately. They'd worked together in A DOUBLE LIFE, but that was when Winters was starting her career, so she listened to him. This time, she felt she was enough of a star not to pay any attention, and it was mutual aggression. (Cukor felt Winters was making her character too needy and too working-class: he felt the character should have been a rather haughty society woman, but Winters wanted the character to be a working class hausfrau.) And Winters wouldn't wear the costumes which messed up the visual plan of the film. (Each of the women were supposed to be primarily identified by one color.)

However, Claire Bloom loved working with Cukor, feeling he was the most sympathetic director she ever had, and she stills cites Cukor as her favorite director of all the directors she's worked with.

joe baltake said...

Daryl! Fascinating stuff as always. I'd really like to see this film again. I hope I haven't elevated it too much in my mind.