Blume in Love


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

When this film came out it was a big deal, a prestige product. The leading actor, George Segal, was a major star at the time, and the 1973-4 period was probably the pinnacle of his career. This film came out at about the same time as A Touch of Class and Altman's California Split, and it was by no means considered the ugly stepchild of the other two. A young unknown whippersnapper of a movie reviewer named Roger Ebert gave Blume in Love his highest possible rating - four stars. The script was nominated for the Writers Guild award as the best original comedy screenplay of 1973, and it lost to another George Segal film (A Touch of Class).

I suppose what I'm saying here is that this was an A-list project. You probably wouldn't guess that if you watched it today without knowing what I have just revealed. You'd probably think it was sort of OK, but kind of quaint, and too slow to develop its themes.

To be honest, it would not be hard to nod off during this film.


Although I no longer find it to be a very good film (I say "no longer" assuming I probably did back in 1973), and I have no idea why it was ever considered a comedy, I still find it interesting to analyze. It's a film caught in a time warp. On the surface it is a classic 1950s-style love story. A divorced husband (Segal) sits alone in Venice, thinking back to his honeymoon in that same romantic city, recalling what went wrong in his marriage and the period just after it. He narrates from the present time, and his narrations predictably merge into flashbacks. He was unfaithful to his wife. She caught him and would not forgive him. But, dammit, he loved her and he realized how badly he screwed up. He pined for her, and did a of of begging, but she took up with another guy, and he found consolation with an ex-girlfriend. Still he loved his ex-wife, and thought of her constantly. They did get together briefly, and she got pregnant, but they did not reunite. Then the other guy split, but she still didn't want her ex- back. At the very end, as he mopes around Venice watching all the happy young lovers and wishing he were still in love, she shows up totally unexpectedly, they embrace, and they experience a happy reunion, having both learned from the experience.

Pretty straightforward Cary Grant stuff, eh?

But wait! As Paul Harvey would say, here's the rest of the story. Even though the filmmaking is pure 1955, the characters are filled with in-your-face hippie-era attitude. The "other man" is an itinerant musician who lives in his truck and smokes reefer all day (Kris Kristofferson, pretty much playing Kris Kristofferson.) He collects welfare, but has no intention of working. He's just sticking it to the man.

And mainly smoking reefer.

It turns out that the wife chose not to forgive her husband for the infidelity because she was starting to realize that she needed room to evolve and grow. After the split, she started to take yoga and guitar lessons, had a lot of sex and and smoked a lot of reefer. Meanwhile, the husband and the "other man" bonded, became close, and ... er ... smoked a lot of reefer. And the sympathetic ex-girlfriend who helped Segal through his pain knew there was nothing permanent in it for her, but she liked the sex and companionship, and didn't need the relationship to turn into anything permanent. And another chick Segal picked up in a bar immediately wanted to get him into a foursome. Oh, and remember how I said the husband and wife briefly got together and she got pregnant? Well, the specifics of that encounter are that he raped her and the boyfriend showed up during the act. And why did the boyfriend leave? Well, he just figured it was time to move on, because ... well, that's what itinerant musicians do. Besides, once she got pregnant, he figured she wouldn't let him smoke as much ganja.

Rape and reefer. Definitely not Cary Grant stuff.

There is nothing in those characters or storylines that seems so daring today, but those characters were all new screen archetypes for that era, except for the philandering husband, who was just an old-fashioned guy trying to figure why everyone else was changing. This film is a perfect illustration of how the counter-cultural characters and attitudes from the late sixties had, by 1973, slipped completely into the mainstream of the culture itself, and thence into studio films with middlebrow stars like George Segal and Marsha Mason.


* widescreen anamorphic

* no features







It was nominated for the "Best Original Screenplay" award by the Writers Guild, but not not earn the parallel Oscar nomination.

4 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)


6.1 IMDB summary (of 10)


No information available


  • There's some nudity from some obscure woman named Erin O'Reilly (the foursome chick). She appears topless, and offers some fleeting looks at her lower body.
  • There is the topless nudity from four-time Oscar nominee Marsha Mason. (Three different scenes, although all of them are subtle.)

 Marsha Mason

If you met Marsha Mason at a party and she told you she was a famous movie star, you would never believe her unless you already knew of her career. She was an ordinary-looking person, not unattractive, and shapely enough, but not glamorous, beautiful or sexy. And she never did any gimmicky things to attract attention to her performances: no impersonations of famous people, no dramatic weight losses or gains, no weird accents.

Yet she earned four "best actress" nominations between 1974 and 1982.

So without anything to attract people's attention, how did she get all those good roles? Well, being married to the hottest scriptwriter in town helped, but in ironic fact, it was her very lack of star quality that made her a star. Turn a camera on her and she could convince you that she was a real person doing whatever it was the script called for. She never seemed to be acting at all, and audiences "bought" her completely. I can't think of many movie actresses like her today. Maybe Marcia Gay Harden, but she'd be about the only one, and she's more of a supporting actress. The Marsha Mason style of leading actress seems to be a disappearing breed.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A solid film. Although it is slow and a prisoner of its time, it is interesting in many ways. It is not, however, a classic. The 6.1 at IMDb gives the correct picture, not the four stars from Roger Ebert.