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The Sterile Cuckoo

The Sterile Cuckoo (released in the UK as Pookie) is a 1969 American comedy-drama film released by Paramount Pictures that tells the story of an eccentric, young couple whose relationship deepens despite their differences and inadequacies. It stars Liza Minnelli, Wendell Burton, and Tim McIntire.[2]

The Sterile Cuckoo
Film Poster for The Sterile Cuckoo.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlan J. Pakula
Produced byDavid Lange
Alan J. Pakula
Written byAlvin Sargent
Based onThe Sterile Cuckoo
by John Nichols
StarringLiza Minnelli
Wendell Burton
Tim McIntire
Music byFred Karlin
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited bySam O'Steen
Boardwalk Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 22, 1969 (1969-10-22)
Running time
107 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$13,982,357[1]

The film was adapted by Alvin Sargent from the 1965 novel by John Nichols, and directed by Alan J. Pakula in his directing debut.[2]

The film received two Oscar nominations for the 42nd Academy Awards: Liza Minnelli for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and; Fred Karlin and Dory Previn's song "Come Saturday Morning" for Best Original Song.


Mary Ann "Pookie" Adams is an oddball, quirky teenager who meets the quiet, reserved Jerry Payne while waiting for a bus heading to their colleges. Their colleges are near each other, and they have each enrolled as freshmen. Jerry immediately sees that Pookie is different, even strange. She lies to a nun on the bus so the nun will switch seats with her.

Jerry is beginning to settle into college life with his roommate, Charlie Schumacher, when the aggressive Pookie arrives unannounced one Saturday morning. Pookie and Jerry spend much time together over the weekend, and soon begin to see each other regularly.

Jerry falls in love with Pookie, but their different personalities start to pull them apart. After having sex, Pookie tells Jerry she might be pregnant. After the pregnancy scare is over, Jerry wants to spend spring break alone to catch up on his studies. Pookie pleads to stay with him, and he relents.

A week alone with the needy and somewhat unstable Pookie makes Jerry realize that they need time apart. Discovering later that she has dropped out of her college, Jerry finds her in the same boarding house where she had stayed on the first day she came to visit. He puts her on a bus for home, and the young lovers part ways.



Much of The Sterile Cuckoo was filmed at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Some of it was filmed in Sylvan Beach, New York, including the Sylvan Beach Union Chapel. Some scenes, including the bus stop scenes, were filmed at the park in Vernon Center, New York.


The film was well-received by critics, and holds an 88% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[3] It grossed $13,982,357 at the North American box office,[1] making it the 13th highest-grossing film of 1969.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Box Office Information for The Sterile Cuckoo". The Numbers. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (October 23, 1969). "The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) Screen: 'The Sterile Cuckoo,' Old-Style TV Drama". The New York Times.
  3. ^ The Sterile Cuckoo, Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 29, 2014.

External linksEdit