Rachel, Rachel was Paul Newman’s directorial debut, which he also produced, from a novel published two years earlier. The film comes alone right after 1967 – the year cinema changed forever – as well as right in the midst of the sexual revolution. It’s a film that could never have been made under the production code, one that touches on so many taboos, that at the time were rarely discussed in the home, let alone on the big screen. I first saw it on Paul Newman day during TCM’s Summer Under the Stars in 2010. My mother and I watched it together and we were blown away with how moving it was. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, though it didn’t win any: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Estelle Parsons, Best Actress Joanne Woodward and Best Picture. Though Newman as producer received a nomination, he was not nominated for Best Director – this was a year where two of the Best Director nominee were not for Best Picture nominees: Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey and Gillo Pontecorvo for The Battle of Algiers. The other films up for Best Picture that year were Funny Girl, The Lion in Winter, Romeo and Juliet and winner Oliver! William Wyler also did not receive a Best Director nomination for his work on Funny Girl, though he still holds the record for most nominations, with a whopping twelve. There be many SPOILERS after the cut.
I think the first time I saw this film was on a hot August afternoon. I do know it was sometime in 2008 because it was the summer I moved to San Francisco the first time and I did a lot of Netflixing that summer. It was right around the same time I saw Sunset Blvd. for the first time. It was a good summer. This is a film just chock full of talent and energy and heart and soul and gravity and gaiety. It’s got everything. If you Google around, you can read about the events on which it was based; I won’t be discussing them here. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Film Editing (for Dede Allen, who was nominated for threes Oscars, though she never won and was in and of herself a ig player in the Hollywood New Wave), Best Supporting Actor Chris Sarandon, Best Actor Al Pacino, Best Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (won; more on this in a bit), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Barry Lyndon, Jaws, Nashville and winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There will be many spoilers after the cut.