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A Small Circle Of Friends 
Written by: on September 13th, 2008


Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1980
Director: Rob Cohen
Writer: Ezra Sacks
Cast: Brad Davis, Karen Allen, Jameson Parker, Shelley Long, John Friedrich, Gary Springer, Richard Nelson, Harry Caesar, Nan Martin, Daniel Stern

DVD released: August 24th, 2004
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Rating: R
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
DVD Release: MGM/UA
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $14.98


Synopsis: Students attend college during the tumultuous years of 67-71. Things happen.

The movie is ostensibly a romance with Karen Allen as the center of attraction. Karen is her usual spunky, adorable, yet liberated self. When the first romance withers, she takes up with the best friend. When that relationship becomes rote, it morphs into a ménage a trios. It is all tastefully handled, that’s not the point, anyway.

The film is really about the turbulence of the late sixties and it’s affects on individuals and society at large. Filmed initially at Harvard until they got cold feet, the film examines drugs, radicalism, Buddhism, feminism and features riots, the draft lottery, and the emergence of head shops. There are clips of LBJ and Nixon, references to Vietnam, protests, riots, terrorism, and the students party to the Rolling Stone’s Street Fighting Man.

This isn’t fluff, it’s an introverted reflection on the late sixties leavened with a decade of hindsight. The director attended Harvard during this period, so the film is partly autobiographical. All the leads are strong, but some of the supporting cast really stand out: Shelly Long as a photographer on the campus paper, Daniel Stern as a crazy draft inductee, and Mary Margaret Amato in a bit as she sneaks out of the men’s dorm.

The DVD:

This is an older disk, and it is non-anamorphic wide screen. It is crystal sharp, and zooms in quite satisfactorily. The soundtrack is mono and English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included along with close captions. The commentary by director Rob Cohen is very informative, though he has a tendency to drone. He is very proud of this accomplishment (as well he should be).

There is a shot of a marquee featuring The Graduate, and that is a primary inspiration for this film. Add elements from Animal House and The Paper Chase, then blend well.

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