on October 26, 2003
Film review: THE STERILE CUCKOO HITS A HIGH NOTE!
Since no one has seemed to write a review on this wonderful movie, I thought I would like to have a chance.
I first heard about "The Sterile Cuckoo" way back in 1969-70, when it first came out. It was popular, I read a bit and heard alot about it, but never saw the movie. Not until December 17, 1988, on television, on my old Black & White Sylvania television set! Believe me, it was love at first sight! The music, the scenery! And imagine, in the summer of 1988, just some months before, I was up in the area where they filmed it!!!!! YoWWWWWW! I was visiting a friend up in Herkimer, New York. We were in the Clinton area, and Linda said to me, "oh, there's the bell/clock tower that was in the "Sterile Cuckoo". I just said "oh how nice", and that was about it. If I only knew, I would have freaked out, and then proceed on a nostalgic tour of the "Sterile Cuckoo"!!!! (IT WAS LARGELY FILMED AT HAMILTON COLLEGE)
But I digress....
I think that if they had made a sequel to the "Sterile Cuckoo", Pookie Adams would have become a successful writer. Remember her saying on the bus that she will read "anything, anywhere, anytime"?
A sensitive person like Pookie would have become a writer. She would have found her place in life. I would like to think that she did. I kind of get her drift when she calls people "creeps and wierdos". I don't blame her at times. Everyone is so into being the same at times, they don't get the people who are interesting and individual. And it can get frustrating, because they don't even want to try. Jerry (Wendel Burton's character) did or at least tried. I am sorry he did not carry through his commitment to her. I don't understand why. So she got drunk at that college party?? Everyone else did. She kind of went over board on the comments about her fellow college students. (Nancy Putnam and her plastic surgery)But that's the way it goes sometimes.
In all, the story is great, but what is the best part is the GORGEOUS SCENERY, and THE AWESOME MUSIC!!!!! Those two things haunt me endlessly. My hat off to Mr. Alan Pakula, the director of this movie. I am sorry You are gone. You are missed, and will forever be in our hearts as a great director. Thank You.~~~definitedoll
on January 24, 2004
In my review of 'Cabaret', I rather rashly claimed that Liza's turn as self-destructive Ingenue Sally Bowles was her 'once-in-a-lifetime' performance. That, however, was before I caught this 1969 Gem, 'The Sterile Cuckoo', on Sky Classics.
Beautifully-directed by Alan Pakula in that strange, isolated, stereotypical 1960's-flick style, 'The Sterile Cuckoo' tells the bittersweet, emotionally macabre tale of anally-retentive college freshman Jerry Payne (Wendell Burton), and his intense relationship with the scatterbrained, maniacal Pookie Adams (Liza Minnelli), an enigmatic and energetic girl with a sad past.
Liza's first Oscar nomination was very thoroughly deserved. Even as late as 1969 the Oscars were not yet the meaningless PR-Fest that we now know them to be, and it's nominations for odd, thought-provoking performances like Minnelli's, here, that restores our faith in that system. She's absorbing and heart-wrenching, infuriating and devastating, all at the same time. Her perfect foil comes in the guise of the extremely skillfull performance turned in by Wendell Burton, in the role of her hapless boyfriend Jerry. He's the ideal contrast to Minnelli's mania, and though we are oftentimes infuriated by his apathy, we can't help but simultaneously sympathise with him.
Pakula's direction is excellent. The vistas are beautiful; simple and isolated, with so much 'New England' jumping from the screen as to make you all but feel the leaves crunching beneath your feet. The sparse countryside, punctuated by violent outbursts of colour, is the perfect metaphor for the central relationship, and Pakula makes extremely clever use of this in the scenes of Pookie and Jerry's early relationship.
A classic slice of 60's ideal surrealism, this is a beautifully-crafted, emotionally absorbing movie that REALLY should be on DVD by now. Highly recommended.
on May 23, 2004
I feel in love with this movie while still in high school (1972) and it is one of my favorites. There are so many good scenes that it would take forever to list them. But two stand out and are the best in the film. The scene where Pookie and Jerry are going to have sex for the first time is sweet and honest and absolutely hysterical. Liza's telephone scene ranks up there with Louise Rainer's in "The Great Ziegfeld" and Barbra Streisand's in "The Way We Were". It will tug at your heart strings like no other scene in any movie in recent years. Liza should have beat out Maggie Smith for the OSCAR for this one for which she was nominated. A wonderful movie with laughs, tears, good music and incredible performances. Please bring this to DVD PLEASE!!!
on June 3, 2003
The first time I saw this movie it bothered me. Watching the love story develop between Pookie and Roger was like watching a horror movie, I kept wanting to yell at the guy for getting into a relationship with this obviously unstable, needy, life-sucking parasite of a human being. But the film haunted me (maybe because I couldn't get "Come Saturday Morning" out of my mind), so much so I bought the video. It's really a different film that couldn't be made today. The pace is different, the plot depends on the characters, Liza Minelli's performance breaks your heart. I suggest this film to anyone who doesn't like the typical romance film of the "Pretty Woman" persuasion. Watch it after you've broken up with somebody if you want a good cry.
on June 7, 2001
I am SO thrilled this is available again.
Funny,touching,embroiling(whatever that means...but you know what I mean).
Actually it's the funny aspect that I love most about this movie...when it's funny it's hysterical...Liza's best work & thankfully she seems to be very proud of it.
My only gripe is the heavy-handed use of the corny theme-song...a slushy 'opus' by the slushy Sandpipers.
It's a coming of age movie for people of any age,who like to FEEL something when they watch a movie & who like to laugh at things they are often not supposed to laugh at.
Beautifully shot in Upstate New York in the fall of 1968. Sweet & romantic. Touching & innocent in the best possible way.
on March 5, 2001
This is one of Liza Minnelli's earliest films, and her first Academy Award nomination. She is outstanding as Pookie Adams, a lonely girl from a family with a sad history. She is highly intelligent and extremely winning, especially in the first scene, on a bus, where she manipulates some nuns into letting her sit next to the object of her desire, Jerry Payne. They are going to near-by colleges, and Pookie pursues Jerry, cleverly winning him over, until he finally falls in love with her. In my opinion this is the all-time best coming of age movie! A *must* see for everyone!!! You'll watch it over and over!
on July 30, 2001
A gem of a little movie - engaging performances from Minnelli (Oscar-nominated, and rightfully so) and Wendell Burton, with sensitive direction from Alan J. Pakula. You have to find an indie or "art house" film today to enjoy a story that takes the time to explore characters and relationships in such unhurried fashion. Interesting soundtrack music, with perhaps a bit too much repetition of "Come Saturday Morning", but it's a minor impediment (It's performed by The Sandpipers - NOT The Association, as erroneously asserted by the London reviewer). Overall, highly recommended!!
on December 27, 2002
It took me awhile to discover this movie. I was out of college by the time I saw it...but it made me want to reverse time and go back to that time in my life.
Liza's great, the cast is great and everything about it is so "strained" that it encapsulates everyone's feelings of not fitting in at one time or another. And it's got a great sixties feel to it that sits right on the very white-bread verge of the end of innocence.