An Unmarried Woman

An Unmarried Woman (1978)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Jill Clayburgh, Alan Bates, Michael Murphy, Cliff Gorman, Lisa Lucas
Extras: Audio Commentary, Theatrical Trailer, Previews

It's kind of refreshing to watch a film from a couple of decades ago, a time in filmmaking when you did not have to worry about offending this group or that group for whatever reason. Simply focusing on making a film that tells a compelling story and letting the audiences decide if they like what you have produced, without the process of watering down the presentation to reach a larger audience. In the Seventies, director Paul Mazursky did just that. He brought us real stories about life, love and the sometimes consequences that lie in between. When "An Unmarried Woman" hit theaters in 1978, it brought forth a new type of film, not necessarily groundbreaking, but a film about a woman discovering her own identity, something that was rarely expressed in Hollywood at the time.

Good friends, a beautiful home in Manhattans lower East Side, a great job in an art gallery, loving husband and daughter, Erica (Jill Clayburgh) seems to have it all. Suddenly all that changes one day when Erica's husband Martin (Michael Murphy) confesses that he has been seeing another woman for over a year and that he is leaving Erica and their daughter Patti (Lisa Lucas) to go and live with his new love interest. Feeling as though her world has just collapsed, Erica realizes that her years of being dependent on her husband are over and she must now discover her own wants and needs, slowly entering the precarious single life in New York City. After a date or two, Erica winds up in the arms of a kind-hearted painter named Saul (Alan Bates), whom she begins a relationship with, without loosing focus on her own independence this time.

"An Unmarried Woman" offers a sweet story with its share of heartache and humor that gives us a look at one woman's journey through the ups and downs of starting over. I was quite impressed with this film overall, one that I have never seen before and had no idea what I would be in for prior to viewing. Nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress (Jill Clayburgh) and Best Screenplay, this film was the high point in the careers of both; director Paul Mazursky and actress Jill Clayburgh.

It's sure interesting to see Erica and her three friends meet once a week for drinks and dinner, talking about their lives and loves in Manhattan, long before "Sex and the City" ever became a household phenomenon.

Twentieth Century Fox brings "An Unmarried Woman" to DVD in a nicely presented anamorphic widescreen transfer, displaying a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer exhibits some grain during the presentation, especially during the opening scenes and towards the ending of the film, where the image appears slightly rough. This could be a characteristic of the film stock used at the time and the fact that a film such as "An Unmarried Woman" might not warrant a full digital restoration. Nonetheless the overall presentation is relatively pleasing, thanks in part to good solid color saturation that produces naturally appearing flesh tones. As well as deep rich blacks that offer fine details, which are depicted throughout the various neighborhood settings of 1970's New York City.

For sound options, you can choose the original mono track or a re-mixed Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack. For a two channel presentation, I found the stereo track provided a good overall tone and balance, with vocals that are reproduced to sound natural, without the appearance of being too dated.

For those that are interested in director Paul Mazursky and star Jill Clayburgh's insight to "An Unmarried Woman", there is the nice addition of an audio commentary track featuring the two. A theatrical trailer and Fox Flix section, which offers trailers for "Silver Streak", "Man Trouble" and "Next Stop, Greenwich Village", contribute to the fairly simple special features section.

For a nice look at a possible unforgotten film gem from the late 1970's, I can easily recommend you spending an evening with "An Unmarried Woman".