JENNY (1970) Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas star in this very dated, but awesome, portrait of young love in New York.

jenny_usposterTheme Song:


“Waiting” by Nilsson. Also included is the unspecified track featured below.

We’ll call it “Theme from Jenny” by Michael Small since that’s the guy who it reads conducted the music for the film.

Interesting Dated References: Getting drafted, dating pregnant girls, using pregnant girls, drinking while pregnant.

Best Line: Said by Jenny at the bar as she drinks while pregnant — “Can a baby inside get drunk?”

Social Context: Back in the day (Vietnam Era), getting drafted was a real concern. There were ways to avoid getting drafted and this movie focuses on one such way and the ramifications of doing so.

Summary: Every time I see Alan Alda I feel like I’m staying up too late. Maybe that’s because my dad used to watch M*A*S*H every night and I was supposed to be asleep by then, but sometimes I would be awake and hear Alda talking. There’s something calming about him.

So Alda plays an artsy filmmaker who is getting drafted. He’s out being an artist in the park when he meets Jenny (Marlo Thomas), a single pregnant chick. They hit it off. I should mention Mrs. Garrett from Facts of Life plays a homeless woman in that scene.

Later on, Alda is on the set of a cereal commercial and he hears from one of the wheat biscuits that you can get out of the draft if you have a baby on the way.

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Look at what they used to have to do make commercials before computers existed. You had sets, props, costumes, actors. It was awesome. Now it’s just lots of in-computer lighting effects, paint splatters, and bad fonts. The world sucks now.

So Alda and the single pregnant chick (Jenny) start hanging out and doing things like visiting art museums, riding subways, and other things the filmmakers feel soundtrack nicely with Nilsson songs. There is a lot of New York scenery circa 1969. Oh, and for some reason the name of Alda’s character is Delano, but I’m going to keep calling him Alda. Eventually Alda proposes to Jenny under the pretense it will keep him out of ‘Nam and give her a place to stay and a father for her child. He also mentions he has a girlfriend and expects their lives to be separate.

So Alda and Jenny and his girlfriend all go out and get drunk and all agree to the marriage. Alda and Jenny go to meet her parents in Bumblefuck.

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Things go well, but Jenny has told her parents Alda is the father and that he fought in ‘Nam. Later on, Alda smokes weed and tries to get Jenny to partake. Then the films hits like 30 minutes of boring shit where nothing happens other than Jenny starting to get possessive of Alda. At the same time, Alda gets distant and hosts some type of weed party. I don’t know if this is an attempt at comedy or drama, and that seems to be the whole problem with the movie. The filmmaking here is right in line with The Graduate or Midnight Cowboy, but somehow they screwed up the formula of humor and drama. They even screwed-up using a Nilsson song.

Jenny runs away to a bar and drinks, then meets some guy who looks like Bill Murray’s dad. She returns home that morning and Alda has some type of breakdown because she left, then they sleep together. Then they fall in love because after you think you don’t like someone and they retaliate by treating you like garbage, you always immediately fall back in love with them and live happily ever after. But as luck would have it, the Gov’t doesn’t buy the sham marriage and Alda finds out he will get drafted.

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Then the baby is born and there’s a weird breastfeeding sequence where Alda just looks on contemplatively. Then the movie ends as Jenny sheds a tear. Existential, contemplative, open-minded.

At the end of the cast credits Fred Willard is listed. I had to go back through and check out all the minor characters. This was all I could find:

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It’s a non-speaking part, and he’s only in there for a minute, but that certainly looks like him. Looks like it was one of his first roles.

Poster and Box Art: The poster for Jenny is good, but pretty typical for 1970. Ballsy move going with all purple and pink.

Availability: Used VHS on Amazon.

3 comments

  • I think Willard was also in the party scene near the end, though the copy of the film I saw was far from hi-rez. I liked it. I think you conveyed the odd tone of the film pretty well. I flipped-flopped between regarding the director’s approach as ineptitude and regarding it as genius. This is the second film I’ve seen this weekend that was unusually patient in its observation of actors’ performances, the other being Foxcatcher.

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