6.8/10
1,791
37 user 12 critic

The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams... See full summary »

Director:

Alan J. Pakula

Writers:

John Nichols (novel), Alvin Sargent (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Liza Minnelli ... Pookie Adams
Wendell Burton Wendell Burton ... Jerry Payne
Tim McIntire ... Charlie Schumacher
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Storyline

Two students from neighboring colleges in upstate New York are swept up in a tragic romantic interlude calling for a maturity of vision beyond their experience of capabilities. Pookie Adams, a kooky, lonely misfit with no family and no place to go, insists on calling all those who won't participate in her world "weirdos." She clings to Jerry, a quiet, studious fellow who has the ability to choose to live in Pookie's private little world or be accepted by the society that she rejects. Unwittingly, it is through their awkward relationship that Pookie actually prepares Jerry for the world of "weirdos" into which she neither fits nor wishes to fit. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

First love is beautiful hurt....if it happens to you once, you're lucky.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After winning the part of Pookie Adams, Liza Minnelli had a copy of the script sent over to her mother, Judy Garland, who read it and thought the part of this troubled, friendless girl would be an unattractive role for her daughter. Minnelli says she became defensive and argued that Pookie was a great role for any actress, but that Garland was personally concerned Minnelli identified too closely with Pookie. See more »

Goofs

Jerry Payne twice refers to roommate Charlie Schumacher as "Charlie Schoonover." The character's name in the novel was "Harry Schoonover." See more »

Quotes

'Pookie' Adams: Some people guzzle God like He was a keg of beer.
See more »

Connections

Featured in And the Oscar Goes To... (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Come Saturday Morning
Lyric Dory Previn Music Fred Karlin
Performed by The Sandpipers
A & M Records Recording Artists
See more »

User Reviews

 
Loneliness...
17 January 2003 | by RunPepeSee all my reviews

This is one of the few films I've seen in which every shot represents the theme and overall feeling of the film. No matter whether Minnelli's Pookie and Burton's Jerry are together as a couple, in a crowd, or completely alone, a sense of loneliness pervades the situation. To achieve this Pakula uses several long shots of the characters, or, during the party scene, he has Pookie and Jerry on separate levels of the staircase, staring up or down at each other from a distance. From the very first shot we see this, with Pookie and her father walking to a bench and then sitting there waiting, in an extremely long take that spans the entire opening credits. In representing the awkwardness of a first sexual experience, another extremely long take is used, in which Jerry disrobes Pookie, take off each piece of clothing one by one, hanging them up in the closet or folding them properly, then doing the same for himself, and within this the loneliness is established in Pookie's great enthusiasm to "get in the sack" and Jerry's calculated attempts at making the experience romantic, which are completely unromantic. Even McIntire's small role as Charlie plays an important part in the representation of the loneliness, as he assumes that Jerry is a virgin, like he is, thinking he confide this is in Jerry because they have it in common, which they don't. Minnelli's acting in this excellent, probably on the same par as her role in Bob Fosse's "Cabaret." This is also one of the few films I have actually not just felt sad about, but actually did cry at. I believe this is a very well-made film, and it deserves a higher rating than it has on here. The subjects it deals with are not trivial in the least, they are an important part of life, and the ending is perfect in proving this. It is very realistic in the psychological portrayal of its characters, which is a very difficult thing to pull off. I have not read the book, but I am sure the characters are established just as well in this film adaptation. Although it is a sad film to watch, Pakula hooks us right away with Pookie's outrageous personality, and although, like Jerry, we feel she is annoying person, even if she is friendly, we cannot stop listening to her and watching her, and when she is not in a scene we feel something is lacking. So, rather quickly, we begin to enjoy her character and what it brings to the film, just as Jerry begins to enjoy her company and she helps him learn to enjoy his life and be more outgoing, even though, in the end, this works against Pookie. I feel this film has been highly overlooked, and I definitely recommend it, even with the sad ending it brings. By the end of the film I had fallen in love with Pookie, and this is what makes it such a strong film.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 October 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pookie See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,982,357
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Boardwalk Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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