Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Carnal Knowledge (1971)

Carnal Knowledge (1971)

This movie broke sexual taboos in the frankness with which it tackled its study of two college roommates and their sexual obsessions through two decades. The action spanned their school days in the late 1940s, up to middle-age in the early 1970s.

Jack Nicholson was Jonathan, the horndog lawyer who has a stormy relationship with his older mistress Bobbie (Ann-Margret) while Art Garfunkel and Candice Bergen play romantic Sandy and worldly Susan, the couple who opted for marriage.

The wall-to-wall dysfunction is a bit much but the film’s craftsmanship is impeccable and Carnal Knowledge garnered considerable praise during its initial release, with Ann-Margret winning a Golden Globe and writer Jules Feiffer earning a Writers Guild Award nomination.

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This was Carol Kane’s film debut, but the surprise of the film was Ann-Margret, who displayed a touching vulnerability as the blowsy bedmate who stoked Nicholson’s dying sexual fires. Previously regarded as a teen-market sex kitten, the Swedish-born Ann-Margret revealed hitherto unsuspected depths as an actress.

Jack Nicholson
Candice Bergen
Art Garfunkel
Rita Moreno
Cynthia O’Neal
Carol Kane

Mike Nichols