The Chapman Report was a book that seared America like a rocket blast from Cape Canaveral that people said could never be filmed. Warners went ahead and did it in Technicolor with a multi-star cast.
Dr Chapman (Andrew Duggan) heads a team of psychiatrists, including Paul Radford (Efrem Zimbalist Jr), who are making a nationwide survey of the sex life of the American woman.
The team arrives in the Los Angeles suburb of Briarwood, inhabited by the well-to-do. Volunteers are invited to submit themselves to confidential interviews, and it is with four of the women who come forward that the film is chiefly concerned.
The first of these is Sarah (Shelley Winters), the wife of Frank Garnell (Harold J. Stone) and mother of two children, who is carrying on an illicit affair with Fred Linden (Ray Danton), the director of the local little theatre.
The second is Teresa (Glynis Johns), the wife of pompous art collector Geoffrey Harnish (John Dehner), who believes their little marital world is delightfully intact, and both of them look forward to Thursday nights which is their “special night” for lovemaking.
Kathleen (Jane Fonda) is the ravishingly beautiful widow of test pilot and national hero “Boy” Barclay. It transpires that “Boy” was not a hero to his wife. His speed in aircraft was matched only by the rapidity of his sexual conquests, and since his death, Kathleen has avoided male contact to the point of believing herself frigid.
Finally, Naomi Shields (Claire Bloom) is an attractive divorcee with strong tendencies towards nymphomania and alcoholism, a deeply-rooted mental condition that will be difficult to eradicate.
The revelations these women make to Chapman’s interviewers also have the effect of bringing them face-to-face with themselves.
Sarah realises her relations with Fred cannot last indefinitely, and that one day, she will have to choose between him and her husband.
Teresa has secretly recorded her interview with Chapman and plays it back to her husband. He is entirely satisfied, but Teresa wonders if something is missing in their love life. She meets a handsome and uninhibited footballer (Ty Hardin) and begins to experiment . . .
Naomi’s interview reveals the depths of her soul’s sickness. Hopelessly enmeshed in the toils of promiscuity, she becomes involved with jazz musician Wash Dillon (Corey Allen).
Half-drunk, she visits his apartment, where Dillon first takes advantage of her and then callously hands her over to his companions.
But we are most closely concerned with Kathleen and Paul. Their association began on the impersonal level of a confidential interview, but Paul soon realises that he has more than a professional interest in the beautiful young widow.
How he succeeds in turning the self-deluded “frigid woman” into a warm, responsive girl is one of the romantic highlights of the film.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr
Dr George C. Chapman
Harold J. Stone