Rachel, Rachel

Rachel, Rachel is a 1968 American technicolor drama film produced and directed by Paul Newman[3] and starring his wife, Joanne Woodward, in the title role and co-starring Estelle Parsons and James Olson. The screenplay, by Stewart Stern based on the 1966 novel A Jest of God by Canadian author Margaret Laurence, concerns a schoolteacher in small-town Connecticut and her sexual awakening and independence in her mid-30s. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for Woodward, and Best Supporting Actress for Parsons) and won two Golden Globes: Best Director and Best Actress (Drama).

Rachel, Rachel
Original movie poster for the film Rachel, Rachel.jpg
Original poster
Directed byPaul Newman
Screenplay byStewart Stern
Based onA Jest of God
by Margaret Laurence
Produced byPaul Newman
StarringJoanne Woodward
James Olson
Estelle Parsons
Geraldine Fitzgerald
CinematographyGayne Rescher
Edited byDede Allen
Music byJerome Moross
Kayos Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • August 26, 1968 (1968-08-26)
Running time
101 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,000,000 (rentals)[2]


Rachel Cameron (Joanne Woodward) is a shy, 35-year-old unmarried schoolteacher living with her widowed mother in an apartment above the funeral home once owned by her father in a small town in Connecticut. School is out for summer vacation, and Rachel anticipates a typical bored summer at home with her mother. Fellow unmarried teacher and best friend Calla Mackie (Estelle Parsons) persuades her to attend a revival meeting, where a visiting preacher encourages Rachel to express her need for the love of Jesus. Rachel is overwhelmed by the experience, baring so much pent-up emotion that she is embarrassed; comforting her, Calla suddenly kisses Rachel passionately. Rachel, shocked, runs home and begins avoiding Calla.

Nick Kazlik (James Olson), Rachel's high-school classmate who now teaches at an inner city school in The Bronx, arrives for a short visit. Upon first seeing Rachel, Nick makes a crude pass that Rachel rebuffs, but after the episode with Calla, she succumbs to his charms and has her first sexual experience. Mistaking lust for love, she begins to plan a future with Nick, who quickly rejects her by showing her a photo of a young boy, implying that it is his son. Through Nick's mother, Rachel later discovers he has no wife and child.

Believing she is pregnant, Rachel plans to leave town and raise the child. With Calla's assistance, she finds another teaching job in Oregon, but before the summer ends, she learns she is not pregnant and that her symptoms are due to a benign cyst. After undergoing surgery to have the cyst removed, she tells her mother that she has decided to relocate, and that her mother may accompany her or not as she wishes. Her mother reluctantly agrees to go. Rachel sets out with hope for the future, having learned that she has choices, that she is able to give and receive sexual pleasure, and that it is possible for her to take on life actively rather than wait for it to find her.



The film marked Paul Newman's directorial debut. It was shot in various Connecticut locations, including Bethel, Danbury, Georgetown and Redding.

Newman and Woodward's daughter Nell Potts portrays Rachel as a child in flashback scenes.

Critical receptionEdit

Time wrote "Stewart Stern often gets too close to the novel, adopting where he should adapt. Rachel is shackled with prosy monologues that should have been given visual form. Despite its failings, Rachel, Rachel has several unassailable assets...It is in the transcendent strength of Joanne Woodward that the film achieves a classic stature. There is no gesture too minor for her to master. She peers out at the world with the washed-out eyes of a hunted animal. Her walk is a ladylike retreat, a sign of a losing battle with time and diets and fashion. Her drab voice quavers with a brittle strength that can command a student but break before a parent's will. By any reckoning, it is [her] best performance."[4]

Variety called it an "offbeat film" that "moves too slowly" and added "There is very little dialog – most of which is very good – but this asset makes a liability out of the predominantly visual nature of the development, which in time seems to become redundant, padded and tiring...Direction is awkward. Were Woodward not there film could have been a shambles."[5]

TV Guide rated the film 3½ out of four stars, calling it "a small, understated, and very sensitive film" and adding "It could have been a drab, weepy story, but Stern and Newman collaborated to make it an inspiring one that proves one is never too old to change one's life."[6]

Time Out London noted "While in no way as powerful as Barbara Loden's Wanda, Newman's film none the less captures the quiet desperation of enforced life in sleepytown America."[7]

According Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 7 reviews, with an average rating of 6.79/10.[8]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards Best Picture Paul Newman Nominated
Best Actress Joanne Woodward Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Estelle Parsons Nominated
Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium Stewart Stern Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Joanne Woodward Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Paul Newman Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Joanne Woodward Won
Best Director – Motion Picture Paul Newman Won
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Joanne Woodward Won
Laurel Awards Top Female Dramatic Performance Nominated
Top Female Supporting Performance Estelle Parsons Won
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films 5th Place
National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Joanne Woodward Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Director Paul Newman Won
Best Actress Joanne Woodward Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Written American Drama Stewart Stern Nominated

Home mediaEdit

Warner Home Video released the film on Region 1 DVD on February 17, 2009.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "RACHEL, RACHEL". British Board of Film Classification. August 7, 1968. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, January 8, 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  3. ^ Variety film review; August 21, 1968, page 6.
  4. ^ "New Movies: Rachel, Rachel", Time Magazine, September 6, 1968
  5. ^ "Rachel, Rachel". Variety. December 31, 1967.
  6. ^ TV guide review
  7. ^ Time Out London review Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Rachel, Rachel (1968)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 13, 2020.

External linksEdit