Mr. and Mrs. Bridge
With guest director James Ivory
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward give “the performances of their careers” (Judith Crist) in Merchant Ivory’s adaptation of Evan S. Connell’s two novels, Mrs. Bridge and Mr. Bridge, artfully combined into one screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Walter and India Bridge (Newman and Woodward) are a Midwestern American couple struggling to keep up with the changing world around them in 1930s America. Mr. Bridge, a stout-hearted, staunch paterfamilias, quietly lords over his children — Ruth (Kyra Sedgwick), Carolyn (Margaret Welsh), and Douglas (Robert Sean Leonard) — and his wife, who is warm and kind but lacks the independence to forge an identity apart from her husband. As the music, the mores and the politics of Kansas City are transformed in front of them, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge attempt to keep up with the drama of a changing society, reflected within the strains of their own family.
Newman’s spartan silences and Woodward’s abortive attempts to communicate with her husband and her children are perfect portraits of the things that are not said, and of the despair that lies beneath a quiet evening at home in the suburbs.
Shot on location in Kansas City and in Paris, the film was powerfully received at the box office and was greeted with rave reviews. The New York Times wrote that Newman and Woodward’s roles were “the most adventurous and stringent of their careers.” Woodward received an Oscar nod and the New York Society of Film Critics Award for her performance.
Director: James Ivory
Screenwriter: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on novels by Evan S. Connell Cinematographer: Tony Pierce-Roberts
Editors: Humphrey Dixon and Andrew Marcus
Music: Richard Robbins
Cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Sean Leonard, Margaret Welsh, Blythe Danner
Running Time: 126 minutes