The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds



IMDb Rating 7.5 10 1,877


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April 4, 2019



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23.976 fps
100 min
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1.57 GB
23.976 fps
100 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Nazi_Fighter_David 8 / 10 / 10

This film did reconfirm Newman's stature as a director…

Joanne Woodward starred as Beatrice Hunsdorfer ("Betty the Loon"), a loud, vulgar, gum-chewing, beer-drinking, unattractive middle-aged woman… Living in a dilapidated house in a rundown town, abandoned by her husband, unable to face the responsibility of raising her two teenaged daughters' she is disgusted with life… She covers her despair with sarcasm, outrageous jokes and a tough, insensitive treatment of the girls… But she's also pathetic, as she checks the classified ads for business opportunities, and dreams of opening dignified teashops, even though her house is filled with garbage and she's a frightful mess… The film focuses on the way Beatrice's savage, cynical, often self-deprecating humor and her embittered outlook have affected her daughters. Ruth, the older girl, is a typical adolescent boy-chaser and baton-twirler, who, like Beatrice, employs a tough, sarcastic manner to hide her fears and frustration… Shattered by nightmares and epileptic fits, she sinks hopelessly into defeat… Matilda is shy, sensitive and introverted… Although it seems that she should succumb, she overcomes her environment and emerges strongest… An extremely intelligent science student, Matilda wins a prize for her experiment on mutated flowers that gives the drama its symbolic title; and she becomes a mutant herself—a delicate flower growing out of arid waste… The play is transformed from a lyrical mood-piece into a naturalistic slice-of-life in the tradition of the fifties television drama Newman admires… This makes the symbolism somewhat obtrusive, and the emphasis on external squalor—the filthy house, for example—is overdone and superficial… Newman's attempts to open up the play are largely successful—scenes of Matilda's science teacher explaining the mysteries of the universe, Ruth's accurate imitation of Beatrice in a school skit, and a teenaged mad scientist explaining with sadistic relish how she skinned a cat, are especially memorable… As in "Sometimes a Great Notion," there's a real feeling for family life, although the emphasis is reversed: here it's a world of women in which men play a marginal role… Newman expertly handles the shifts from vigorous burlesque to black humor to terror to pathos… And as before, he uses the camera functionally, bringing it close to his actresses to achieve intimacy and character revelation… Woodward again displays remarkable range… As the shrewish, noisy woman, she's at once horrifying and humorous, but her suggestion of underlying vulnerability arouses our compassion… There's even the familiar inner radiance, indicating a beautiful woman beneath the flamboyance… As Ruth, Roberta Wallach is a perfect amalgam of the tough, shallow teenager and the pathetic, defenseless baby… The standout performance is by Nell Potts, the Newmans' thirteen-year-old, who played Rachel as a child, and here plays a Rachel-like character… As Matilda, she's a model of understatement, with her soft, fragile voice, subtle expressions of nervousness, and luminous blue eyes that, like her father's, seem to be quietly assimilating everything—sometimes disapproving but more often understanding… The film did reconfirm Newman's stature as a director… In his three features he has shown an ability to work with a wide range of material, and if he lacks an original style, he does have a feeling for constructing powerful images and scenes… Above all, he was one of today's finest directors of performers, which has become almost a lost art…

Reviewed by aimless-46 9 / 10 / 10

A Truly Wonderful Film

"This is an adaptation of Paul Zindel's wonderful but tormented play. This play itself is compelling and has a kind of Tennessee Williams flavor; especially "The Glass Menagerie" and "A Streetcar Named Desire". The adaptation is very successful as the production designer (Gene Callahan) manages to transfer the book's psychologically oppressive ambiance to film; "shame hangs in the air of this house" like a cloud of poison gas. Director Paul Newman gets performances from his cast that pull together parallel stories of how a "strong, strange, and beautiful" flower can unexpectedly spring from an environmental wasteland. His most difficult task is restraining or masking Joanne Woodward's earthy likability so that we waste little sympathy on her character. But using Woodward as the mother allowed him to get a once-in-a-lifetime performance from their daughter (Nell Potts as Matilda-Tillie in the play). Potts abandoned acting after this movie but her ethereal take on Matilda is right on the money and a big reason why the film works so well. This is really just a story about Matilda's science fair project in which marigold seeds are subjected to varying amounts of gamma ray radiation (the independent variable in her experiment). Those flowers receiving a moderate amount of radiation bloom in amazing and wonderful ways. However, those flowers subjected to additional radiation either have their growth stunted or whither and die. Meanwhile Tillie and her older sister Ruth are living an analogous story with their mother Beatrice in an extremely emotionally abusive household. In the play it is stated that Beatrice is insane but not how or why she became this way. In the movie the viewer soon reaches this same conclusion. Older daughter Ruth (an amazing performance by Eli Wallach's daughter Roberta) maintains a fairly normal lifestyle at school, she is a majorette and popular but is very selfish and demanding of attention. Notably she is also an epileptic, which is subtly significant because it is analogous to receiving an excessive amount of radiation. Tillie is very different (analogous to receiving a moderate amount of radiation), seemingly shy and withdrawn, she is actually very independent and has found an outlet from the family in her science projects. This outlet serves as a protective niche in which she can bloom. A truly great scene is Matilda's acceptance speech at the science fair. She explains the results of her project and really lays out the main theme of the story for the viewer. Watch as she mentions how excessive radiation causes dwarf plants, at that point they cut to a closeup of Ruth in the audience. Both the experiment and the family illustrate that while a reasonable degree of adversity can actually be beneficial, too much of the same adversity will poison life. While this would be a good film if focused solely on Matilda, it is elevated to extraordinary because Newman chooses to also make Ruth a central part of the story. The conventional "movie-way" to tell this story would be to make it an inspirational tale of triumphing over adversity; of free-will overcoming destiny. But fortunately Newman elects to show both sides of the story, in Ruth he shows someone who never has a chance, who cannot recognize her destiny or ever hope to overcome it. Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

Reviewed by MarieGabrielle 9 / 10 / 10

Well-directed, affecting character study...

Paul Newman again surprises (along with "Rachel, Rachel") as Joanne Woodward is presented in the unglamorous role of Beatrice Hunsdorfer, a bitter widow living on the fringe in an anonymous Connecticut suburb. Nell Potts and Roberta Wallach in diametrically opposed roles, Ruth, the epileptic popular daughter, and Mathilda, the science-project sensitive daughter who relates to her pet rabbit. While some is a bit overdone it is no stretch to imagine a bored housewife trying to make ends meet; Woodward is sympathetic and annoying at the same time. A brilliant performance. This film was made in 1972 and it would truly amazing to see real character portrayals in film again. Today we have to visit the theater for such affecting performances. Well worth more than one viewing. 9/10.

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