The Impossible Years

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The Impossible Years is a 1965 comedy play by Robert Fisher and Arthur Marx, son of famed comedian Groucho Marx.

After two previews, the Broadway production, directed by Arthur Storch, opened on October 13, 1965 at the Playhouse Theatre, where it ran for 670 performances. The original cast included Alan King, Sudie Bond, Bert Convy, Neva Small, and Scott Glenn. Sam Levene and Ed McMahon succeeded King later in the run.


The comedy revolves around Jonathan Kingsley, a teaching psychiatrist at the local university, his wife, and their two teenaged daughters. Complications arise when the older one develops an active interest in the opposite sex and her younger impressionable sister begins to emulate her misadventures.

Film adaptation[edit]

The Impossible Years
Directed by Michael Gordon
Produced by Lawrence Weingarten
Written by George Wells
Starring David Niven
Marten Productions
Distributed by MGM
Release dates 1968
Country USA
Language English
Box office $5.8 million (North America)[1]

The 1968 film version, which premiered December 5, was adapted by George Wells and directed by Michael Gordon. It starred David Niven, Lola Albright, Chad Everett, Ozzie Nelson, Cristina Ferrare, Gale Dixon and Darlene Carr. A notable footnote is that the theme for the film was performed by The Cowsills.


Jonathan Kingsley is the teaching psychiatrist at the local university. He and wife Alice have two teenage daughters; their eldest, Linda, falls for Jonathan's teaching assistant Richard.



MGM bought the film rights to the play in 1965 for $350,000.[2] George Wells completed the script by March 1966.[3] MGM announced it for production in August 1966. The movie was greenlit by the team of Robert O'Brien and Robert M. Weitman.[4]

At one stage Peter Sellars was announced for the lead.[5] By May David Niven had been signed.

Christina Ferrare, who played Niven's daughter, had been under contract to 20th Century Fox for a year.[6] Filming took place in October 1967.

The film featured the final movie performance of Ozzie Nelson.[7]


The movie was a hit, earning $5.8 million in rentals in North America.[1] It was the 17th most popular movie at the US box office in 1969.[8]

Critical reaction however was overwhelmingly negative.[9]

In 1970 it was reported Jackie Cooper and Bob Finkel had written a pilot script for a TV adaptation of the play for NBC.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. ^ 'Impossible Years' Has All Possible Comedy Ingredients Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Oct 1965: d13.
  3. ^ 'Impossible' Script Ready Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 Mar 1966: d17.
  4. ^ Top Role for Candy Bergen Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Aug 1966: c9.
  5. ^ MGM Plans 14 Films on 1967 Budget Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 25 Jan 1967: d10.
  6. ^ Cindy: She Came to Work, Not Play Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Oct 1967: e15.
  7. ^ Roger Fristoe, "The Impossible Years", Turner Classic Monthly accessed 19 December 2014
  8. ^ "The World's Top Twenty Films." Sunday Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1970: 27. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. accessed 5 Apr. 2014
  9. ^ The Wonder of Hollywood's Movie Decisions Champlin, Charles. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Feb 1969: t1.
  10. ^ Hairdresser Just for Julie, Warren Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Oct 1970: c18.

External links[edit]