Starting Over (1979 film)

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Starting Over
Starting over.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
Produced by James L. Brooks
Written by James L. Brooks
Dan Wakefield
Starring Burt Reynolds
Jill Clayburgh
Candice Bergen
Charles Durning
Frances Sternhagen
Austin Pendleton
Mary Kay Place
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Cinematography Sven Nykvist
Edited by Marion Rothman
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • October 5, 1979 (1979-10-05)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]
Box office $35,649,012[2]

Starting Over is a 1979 American comedy film based on Dan Wakefield's novel, produced by James L. Brooks and directed by Alan J. Pakula. It tells the story about a recently divorced man (Burt Reynolds) who is torn between his new girlfriend (Jill Clayburgh) and his ex-wife (Candice Bergen).

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Clayburgh) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Bergen). Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote three original songs for the film: "Easy For You," "Better Than Ever," and "Starting Over." All three were sung onscreen by Bergen.


Phil Potter (Reynolds) splits with his wife, Jessica (Bergen). She wants to begin a singing and songwriting career and she also has been having an affair.

Phil moves from New York to Boston, where his brother Mickey (Durning) and sister-in-law Marva live. Against his wishes, they set up Phil with a blind date, Marilyn Holmberg (Clayburgh), a nursery-school teacher working on her master's degree.

He begins a new life. Phil takes a part-time teaching job and attends a divorced-men workshop in a church basement, meeting lonely men like Paul and Larry whose situations are similar to his. Marilyn feels it's too soon following his breakup for Phil to begin a new relationship. He goes on a date with her friend Marie, a single mom who literally throws herself at him.

At a family Thanksgiving dinner, a phone call from Jessica comes at an inopportune time. Marilyn overhears him telling Jessie that he is dining with his family and "their friend." Marilyn's feelings are hurt and wants to end the relationship. He confronts Marilyn at a School Carnival, where she is staffing a "Dunk the Teacher" dunk tank, and after dunking her several times, Phil asks her to "define" their relationship. Finally, Marilyn agrees when Phil invites her to move in with him. Soon after they move in together, Jessica unexpectedly turns up at his apartment. She looks fabulous and has become a great success as a songwriter, although she is a decidedly off-key singer.

Phil moves back to New York to be with Jessica again. But the more he is with her, the more he misses Marilyn. He returns to Boston only to find she is now dating a basketball player. Phil does everything he can, even disrupting a Boston Celtics practice, in an attempt to win her back.



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