Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


THE CHAPMAN REPORT (1962). Director: George Cukor.

"The one thing we must remember: we must be sensible."


Researcher Dr. Chapman (Andrew Duggan) and his assistant Paul (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.), interview several women about their sex lives. These include Sarah (Shelley Winters), a married woman who is having an affair with a theater director named Fred (played by who else but Ray Danton); Naomi (Claire Bloom), whose nymphomaniacal activities doomed their marriage; Teresa (Glynis Johns), who is happily married but requires one fling with a really hot man (Ty Hardin of Berserk); and Kathleen (Jane Fonda), a widow whose late husband complained of her frigidity. In an unlikely development Paul finds himself drawn into a romantic relationship with Kathleen. While the movie is obviously inspired by the Kinsey report (and a trashy potboiler by Irving Wallace), the types in this movie are no different from women in countless other movies and the really eyebrow-raising stuff in Kinsey's report is avoided. So what we're left with is a reasonably entertaining soap opera with some fine acting. Zimbalist is no better than he ever is, Duggan has nearly a bit part, but the ladies offer something more. Bloom gives an affecting performance as a lonely, semi-alcoholic woman who is gang-raped in one chilling sequence. Winters is excellent as the wife with an unattractive husband (Harold J. Stone) who needs passion in her life with a handsome partner. Johns is okay in a sequence that is played primarily for laughs (John Dehner is her unsuspecting husband). Jane Fonda, always more talented than her father, gives another wonderful performance. Chad Everett shows up briefly as a hunky water man who appears at Naomi's house, and Corey Allen [The Big Caper] is very effective as the slimy musician, Wash Dillon, who casts a sick spell over Naomi. Perhaps the best performance comes from Henry Daniell [The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake], a psychologist who fears that Chapman may be setting things in motion without the appropriate follow-up.

Verdict: Laughably unscientific but entertaining. ***.


Ken Anderson said...

"Zimbalist is no better than he ever is..." No truer words were ever spoken. He seriously plays every role I've ever seen him in exactly the same.
I liked your write-up on this glossy soap opera, and I so agree that it's curious how run-of-the-mill the women's cases are. Nothing ripping the lid off about this film, its the same soapy female afflictions (frigidity, nymphomania, infidelity) movies have been writing about for decades. Happily, the attractive cast - particularly Fonda and Bloom -makes it palatable. I haven't seen this in years. You've whetted my appetite for a revisit!

angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - Much as i want to like this film, with its stellar and attractive cast, there's something missing in it for me...can't put my finger on it. Maybe it just ain't sexy and racy enough--or needs an over-the-top hysterical performance by a Lana Turner or a Joan Crawford, perhaps. I'm a sucker for a scene-stealing diva! True, I haven't seen in a while, so I think it deserves a second look.

Oh, and I agree with you 100% about Jane being the most talented Fonda...the only movie I really like him in is On Golden Pond, opposite Hepburn and produced by and costarring Jane...

But next time Chapman Report is on, I will record and watch again!

William said...

Ken and Chris, thanks for your comments!

Yes, even when Efrem played a private detective on TV he was the personification of bland.

I agree that having someone chewing the scenery in an hysterical manner -- or if Crawford had been in the cast! -- would have made the picture much, much more entertaining.