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DVD Review

Same Time, Next Year (1978)


Starring: Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn
Mediumrare Entertainment & Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Available 11 February 2008

George and Doris meet by accident at a seaside inn and realise that they have an instant attraction. The evening progresses quickly and they find themselves waking up in the same room only to discover that, not only are they are both happily married, but that they also have, between them, six children. Unable to release themselves from the infatuation and passion they agree to meet again in the same place next year. As the years roll on the affection and friendship grows as they survive the ups and downs that come with the turbulent sixties...

Same Time, Next Year (1978) was directed by  Robert Mulligan, whose most famous film is To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). The screenplay was adapted by Bernard Slade from his own original play. The film was well received by critics and was nominated for eight awards, including four Oscars and won a Golden Globe for Ellen Burtstyn for best actress.

Although there are some minor parts, the film is really a two-hander between Ellen Burtstyn, as Doris, and Alan Alda, as George. If you want to see how to successfully transpose a play into a film, without it actually looking like it started as a play, then Same Time, Next Year is as near to perfection as you’ll get.

The relationship is obviously sexual and much of the humour is derived from George’s sexual hang-ups and Doris’s very open, almost naïve, approach to their relationship.  Mulligan and Slade take the couple through some of the most tumultuous parts of recent American history where politics, gender roles and general equality all were called into question. Though, for the most part, this impacts less than you would think on the couple’s strange state of annual domesticity.

When we first meet the couple it is the very conservative fifties - nineteen fifty-one to be precise - and the film follows the couple over the next twenty-six years, in five year skips. You may think that a movie which pretty much happens in a single room would be boring, but Mulligan cleverly uses photos and contemporary references - cheekily including his own To Kill a Mocking Bird, to indicate the passage of time.

The film is actually very amusing, watching the couple change over the years. George starts off as a little love struck, but exceptionally guilty, and slowly transforms into a more conservative version of himself, whereas Doris embraces the changing time, to the point of going back to school and becoming a hippie in nineteen sixty-six. Together they share some of the most important moments in their lives, including the birth and death of children and spouses.

The picture is a tad soft and grainy with noticeable artifacts at the start of the film; the faults though, are not enough to detract from this sweet and funny film. The disc comes with little in the way of extras except for the original theatrical trailer.


Charles Packer

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