Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Carnal Knowledge (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Carnal Knowledge (1971)

In director Mike Nichols' controversial and bittersweet drama:

  • the sexual fumblings and escapades of the threesome courtship of young 1940s Amherst College roommates: the predatory Jonathan Fuerst (Jack Nicholson) and naive Sandy (singer Art Garfunkel) with delicate WASP coed sweetheart Susan (Candice Bergen) (who eventually married), and the continuing account of their failed relationships with the opposite sex as they approached middle-age
  • the bedroom-shower sequence revealing the vulnerability of cynical stockbroker Jonathan's unfulfilled, big-breasted actress-mistress-wife Bobbie (Ann-Margret), a TV model and his live-in mistress, whom he at first desired for her voluptuousness: ("I took one look at the tits on her, and I knew I'd never have trouble again"); and her unhappiness with him: ("I wanna get married" and "the reason I sleep all day is 'cause I can't stand my life...I need a life")
  • his verbal demolishing of Bobbie and her uselessness: ("You want a job? I got a job for ya. Fix up this pigsty!...For God's sake, I'd almost marry you if you'd leave me....Answer me, you ball-busting, castrating, son of a cunt bitch! Is this an ultimatum or not?"); afterwards, a naked Bobbie sat up against a blank wall (filmed from the chest up), lost in her own thoughts of depression, and soon after took an overdose of pills
Devastated Bobbie
  • Jonathan's slide-show lecture of his sexual conquests and the women in his life (titled "Ballbusters on Parade!")
  • Jonathan's dysfunctional-impotence finding solace in the final scene with paid prostitute Louise (Rita Moreno) as he was sexually massaged and reassured, while reclining back on a couch. He commanded her to recite a carefully-worded script while kneeling between his legs. He yelled at her: "God-damn it! You're doing it all wrong" when she deviated. She reassured him as she stroked his thighs: "I don't think we're gonna have any trouble tonight." She called him "a real man, a kind man" and then went on: ("...And who is better, more beautiful, more powerful, more perfect... you're getting hard... more strong, more masculine, extraordinary, more... bust. It's rising, it's rising... more virile, domineering, more irresistible. It's up - in the air...)

Jonathan and Sandy During College

Sandy Kissing Susan

Jonathan With Bobbie

Jonathan Pleasured by Prostitute


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