Four Friends (1981 film)
|Directed by||Arthur Penn|
|Produced by||Michael Tolan|
|Written by||Steve Tesich|
|Music by||Elizabeth Swados|
|Edited by||Marc Laub|
|Distributed by||Filmways Pictures|
Four Friends is a 1981 American comedy-drama film directed by Arthur Penn. The semi-autobiographical screenplay by Steve Tesich follows the path of the title characters from high school to college during the often turbulent 1960s and beyond. The cast features Craig Wasson, Jodi Thelen, Jim Metzler and Glenne Headly.
The titular quartet are Yugoslavian-born Danilo Prozor, who arrived in America at the age of twelve and ever since has been trying to distinguish between the reality of his adopted homeland and the idealistic vision of it he brought with him; overweight, Jewish mama's boy David; Tom, the attractive WASP jock who has a way with the ladies; and free-spirited, self-assured Georgia, who fancies herself the reincarnation of Isadora Duncan, dreams of a successful career as a dancer, and is loved in turn by each of her three friends.
The film is a series of vignettes whose primary focus is on Danilo: his conflicts with his father, his struggles with his heritage, his courtship and thwarted marriage to Long Island debutante Adrienne Carnahan (who is murdered by her own father in a murder-suicide at the wedding reception because of his refusal to accept the marriage) and his lingering relationship with Georgia.
- Craig Wasson as Danilo Prozor
- Jodi Thelen as Georgia Miles
- Michael Huddleston as David
- Jim Metzler as Tom
- Miklos Simon as Mr. Prozor
- Elizabeth Lawrence as Mrs. Prozor
- Julia Murray as Adrienne Carnahan
- Reed Birney as Louie
- James Leo Herlihy as Mr. Carnahan
- Lois Smith as Mrs. Carnahan
- Glenne Headly as Lola
The soundtrack includes "Georgia on My Mind" by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, performed by Ray Charles; the theme song from Bonanza by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans; "Hit the, Road Jack" by Percy Mayfield; "Shop Around" by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson; "Blue Moon" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, performed by The Marcels; and "The Third Man Theme" by Anton Karas, performed by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians.
In his 1981 review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it "the best film yet made about the sixties" and added, "It has the quality of legend, a fable remembered . . . [It] is one of Mr. Penn's most deeply felt achievements, ranking alongside Bonnie and Clyde, Alice's Restaurant, and Little Big Man. For Mr. Tesich, it is another original work by one of our best young screenwriters."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described it as "a very good movie" and commented, "The wonder is not that Four Friends covers so much ground, but that it makes many of its scenes so memorable that we learn more even about the supporting characters than we expect to."
TV Guide rates the film three out of a possible four stars, saying it "attempts to cover so much ground that at times the film becomes frustratingly muddled," and adding, "Though [it] runs out of gas toward the end, it's filmed with obvious love for the characters and features outstanding performances from the underrated Wasson, Thelen and Simon. Well worth seeing."
Time Out New York says, "Although its episodic narrative entails a certain lack of unity, it's nevertheless an ambitious and impressive work . . . A dense but never pretentious film that manages to convey the atmosphere of the '50s and '60s succinctly, it offers delights galore, not least a light, perceptive wit and an unsentimental ability to touch the emotions."
Four Friends was brought to DVD by MGM Home Video on August 23, 2005 in widescreen and Dolby stereo.
- Wall Street Wary of Filmways' Foray Into Big-Budget Pictures Baron, Martin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 June 1980: e1.
- Canby, Vincent (December 11, 1981). "Four Friends (1981)". The New York Times.
- Chicago Sun-Times review
- TV Guide review
- Time Out New York review
- Channel 4 review
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