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An Unmarried Woman

An Unmarried Woman is a 1978 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Mazursky and starring Jill Clayburgh and Alan Bates. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and Clayburgh was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

An Unmarried Woman
Unmarried woman.jpg
Directed byPaul Mazursky
Produced byAnthony Ray
Written byPaul Mazursky
StarringJill Clayburgh
Alan Bates
Michael Murphy
Cliff Gorman
Music byBill Conti
CinematographyArthur J. Ornitz
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 5, 1978 (1978-03-05)
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$24,000,000[2]


The perfect life of wealthy New York City wife Erica Benton (Jill Clayburgh) is shattered when her stockbroker husband Martin (Michael Murphy) leaves her for a younger woman. The film documents Erica's attempts at being single again, where she suffers confusion, sadness, and rage.

As her life progresses, she begins to bond with several friends and finds herself inspired and even happier by her renewed liberation. The story also touches on the overall sexual liberation of the 1970s. Erica eventually finds love with a rugged, yet sensitive British artist (Alan Bates).


The abstract expressionist paintings in the film were created by artist Paul Jenkins, who taught Alan Bates his painting technique for his acting role.[3]

Awards and honorsEdit

It was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actress (Clayburgh) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Mazursky's screenplay won awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

Clayburgh won the award for Best Actress at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.[4]

The film was also nominated for several 1978 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, including Best Film, Best Direction, and Best Actress (Clayburgh).[5]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Vincent Canby in The New York Times wrote "Miss Clayburgh is nothing less than extraordinary in what is the performance of the year to date. In her we see intelligence battling feeling – reason backed against the wall by pushy needs."[7]

Pauline Kael in The New Yorker wrote:

An Unmarried Woman may give Mazursky the popular success that his films Blume in Love, Harry and Tonto and Next Stop, Greenwich Village should have given him – Erica, the heroine, sleeps in a T-shirt and bikini panties. There are so few movies that deal with recognizable people that this detail alone is enough to pick up one's spirits... Jill Clayburgh has a cracked, warbly voice – a modern polluted-city huskiness... When Erica's life falls apart and her reactions go out of control, Clayburgh's floating, not-quite-sure, not-quite-here quality is just right.[8]

As of July 2019, An Unmarried Woman holds a rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 22 reviews.[9]


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
  2. ^ "An Unmarried Woman, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Randy Kennedy (17 June 2012). "Paul Jenkins, Painter of Abstract Artwork, Dies at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: An Unmarried Woman". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  5. ^ "An Unmarried Woman: Awards & Nominations". MSN Movies. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
  6. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
  7. ^ Fox, Margalit and Dennis Hevesi contributed reporting, "Jill Clayburgh Dies at 66; Starred in Feminist Roles", The New York Times, November 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
  8. ^ Reprinted in review collection, When the Lights Go Down, Pauline Kael
  9. ^

External linksEdit