The Seduction of Joe Tynan

The Seduction of Joe Tynan is a 1979 American political drama film directed by Jerry Schatzberg, and produced by Martin Bregman.[3] The screenplay was written by Alan Alda, who also played the title role.[4]

The Seduction of Joe Tynan
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJerry Schatzberg
Written byAlan Alda
Produced byMartin Bregman
CinematographyAdam Holender
Edited byEvan A. Lottman
Music byBill Conti
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 17, 1979 (1979-08-17)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5 million[1]
Box office$19,595,168[2]

The film stars Alda, Barbara Harris, and Meryl Streep, with Rip Torn, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Kimbrough, and Carrie Nye.[5] Streep said that she was on "automatic pilot" during filming because she went to work not long after the death of her lover, John Cazale, adding that she got through the process with Alda's support.

Plot summary


Joe Tynan is a liberal U.S. senator from New York with possible presidential ambitions. For the time being, he is weighing the nomination of a potential Supreme Court justice, with the elderly Sen. Birney urging him strongly to support the nominee.

Tynan is married, with two children, and his frequent work-related absence is an occupational hazard tolerated by wife Ellie, who is busy studying for a new career as a therapist. When he travels to Louisiana to investigate the nominated judge, he encounters labor lawyer Karen Traynor, who knows of evidence revealing the nominee to be unfit. As they spend time together, Tynan and Karen (who is also married) begin a romantic affair.

While back in Washington, D.C., engaging in a friendly rivalry with Southern senator Kittner and preparing for the party's upcoming national convention, Tynan begins to realize that Sen. Birney is suffering from a form of early dementia. Ellie, meanwhile, discovers Tynan's relationship with Karen, causing considerable friction at home. Tynan breaks off the affair, and makes amends to his wife as he delivers a speech at the convention.





Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Alan Alda's Joe Tynan isn't altogether believable as a politician, but he's a warm, sensitive, intelligent character, around whom an uncommonly well-meaning movie has been fashioned."[4] Dale Pollock of Variety wrote that the film "features a literate script, sensitive direction and a brace of fine performances by Alan Alda, Barbara Harris and Meryl Streep."[5] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "We all know that Alan Alda can act; the revelation in his new film, 'The Seduction of Joe Tynan,' is how well he can write. His script, set in the world of politics, is a pleasure to listen to."[6] Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times stated, "'The Seduction of Joe Tynan' is at least a decent effort to look at the pressures at work on a rising young politician, both from within and without. Years from now, however, it may be best remembered as the first film to give Meryl Streep full rein for her luminous talents."[7] Judith Martin of The Washington Post wrote, "Barbara Harris' superb and rounded characterization is only one of many deliciously funny-sad and authentic touches in this amazingly unstereotyped political satire."[8] David Ansen of Newsweek called the film an "intelligent, beautifully acted cautionary tale about the conflict between the siren call of success and the responsibilities of a private life."[9]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a 75% rating based on 12 reviews.[10]





  1. ^ "AFI|Catalog".
  2. ^ "The Seduction of Joe Tynan". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Rich, Frank (August 20, 1979). "Split Ticket". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on March 25, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (August 17, 1979). "Screen: Alan Alda Writes and Stars in 'Joe Tynan'; Coping With Fame". The New York Times. p. C6.
  5. ^ a b Pollock, Dale (August 15, 1979). "Film Reviews: The Seduction of Joe Tynan". Variety. 25.
  6. ^ Siskel, Gene (August 31, 1979). "Alan Alda a double-threat in 'Joe Tynan'". Chicago Tribune. Section 4, p. 2.
  7. ^ Benson, Sheila (August 16, 1979). "'Seduction': Alda Goes to Washington". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  8. ^ Martin, Judith (August 24, 1979). "'Tynan': The Seduction of A Quintessential Senator". The Washington Post. Weekend, p. 29.
  9. ^ Ansen, David (August 27, 1979). "Alda's Breakthrough". Newsweek. 62.
  10. ^ "The Seduction of Joe Tynan". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 18, 2022.