The 1960’s was the beginning of America’s sexual liberalization. With the onset of the “hippy” and free-love movement, the Victorian and Puritan notions of proper sexuality were finally being swept aside in a joyous rapture of personal freedom. One of the great powers of cinema is in the way in which it often helps to act as a mirror to the society that produces it. Think about all of the great Vietnam movies to come out of the 1960’s and 70’s. All of the great movies about the excesses of capitalism and greed in the 80’s. Well, the sexual liberation needed its own cinema verite as well. One such product was 1969’s John and Mary, a then controversial film about a one night stand, and probably the first main stream film to be about a one night stand.

The film tells the story of… wait for it… John (Dustin Hoffman) and Mary (Mia Farrow). They met one night at a bar and went home to “listen to records”, or as they both realized, to have sex. The film bounces back and forth between the night at the bar, the awkward next day, and some scenes from their past relationships. At the time, I’m sure this movie was down-right scandalous and relevant, but it was honestly boring and so, so, so dated in 2011. Dustin Hoffman is one of my favorite actors, and as always, he was great in this movie. This isn’t The Graduate or Midnight Cowboy caliber performance but he plays the part the way it needs to be played. I hate Mia Farrow though. She is neither physically attractive or a talented actress. I’ve never understood how she was both Roman Polanski and Woody Allen’s muse. She bothered me in this as much as she did in Rosemary’s Baby. Not to mention the fact that the ending was a complete cop-out. I thought, for a minute, that they were actually going to gamble on the darker and more scandalous ending, but they wrapped it up too neatly with Hollywood happiness and it cheapened the whole product. I only recommend this film to hard-core Dustin Hoffman fans.

Final Score: C+

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