The Group (1966)
In June 1933, eight young women, who are close friends and members of the upper-class group at South Tower College, graduate and start their adult lives. The film documents the years between their graduation and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, and shows, in a serialized style, their romances and marriages, their searches for careers or meaning in their lives, their highs and their lows.
The lives of a group of eight friends, who are seen as the aesthetes of the Vassar class of 1933, are presented from their graduation, when their lives held so much promise despite the Depression, to the start of WWII. Ambitious theater major Kay, somewhat the outsider of the group, decides to get married immediately and support her struggling playwright husband Harald by getting a job at Macy's than pursue her own theater directing career. Kay, who takes everything personally, needs to be in control, which becomes more difficult as problems emerge in the marriage and as world events occur around her. The only one who may be more ambitious is English major Libby, who wants a job in publishing and whose bravada hides her insecurities when not getting what she wants. The exact opposite is Dottie, an inexperienced proper Bostonian who may settle for second best much as she strove for what she really wanted despite she coming to the understanding that she was less than second best. Chemistry major Polly, who wanted to be a doctor but becomes a medical technician, deals with people with real or perceived psychological problems, both at work and in her personal life. Politically involved Priss knows that love and politics may not mesh, but doesn't like feeling like a science experiment as a replacement to love. Artist Helena, who plans on becoming a nursery school teacher, is the communicator who reports the goings-on of her friends to their other classmates. Wealthy Pokey can afford a life of leisure in marriage, for which she strives. And beautiful art history major Lakey, who can get any man she wants, heads to Europe following graduation to further her art history experience, but her trip may be as much to get away from her Vassar life and head for freedom.
- The Group is a story of the lives of eight college friends, each with a handicap due to their female gender. The handicap of denial of who they are. And because of this handicap, most never fully fulfill their dreams. Also evident, is their ability to see the failure or faults of each other, but not in themselves. The men are portrayed as controlling or white knights. The bad guys lose the girl, as expected. But the good guys may not have won either, if the women are not true to themselves.
The friends represent all social class structure, with a desire to prove to everyone that they have succeeded:
Lakey: A well off and outed Lesbian, who pines for Kay. Kay: Small town girl out to prove she can make it in New York, and possibly in love with Lakey. Near the end she has a defining moment where she cries stating she knows what she wants. Dottie: Boston girl that never recovered from her first love. She is sent out west to rest (abortion and/or mental stress) and marries to mask her need of love from this lover. Priss: A democrat who succumbs to the charms of a republican, and loses her voice. Polly: Initially started out to follow in the foot-steps of her father in the medical profession, but has her direction changed when there's no money to continue. She has an affair with a married man and is manipulated into taking in her mentally ill father by her father. She is rescued by a white knight, but is she happy. Pokey: Maybe the only one that got what she wanted, a husband and kids. But there is no strong focus of the relationship in the movie, so no one really knows if anything she did was the result of choice or duty. Libby: Pretends that she has the flashy life she wants, and won't accept that it maybe something less that can make her happy. Comes off selfish, but she is afraid of reality. She remains a virgin looking for Mr. Right, but she doesn't know what Mr. Right looks or feels like.
The female gender is exposed as weak, uncaring, not knowledgeable. I found no true bonding, where they could tell their fears and not be ridiculed. If this story was meant as enlightenment, it satisfies a voyeur's dream but there's no sharing of intimacy which is found between "true friends". But maybe you could identify, resolve, and move on where these women could not, it is the 40's, where women take a back seat to the men. Or maybe it shows us that we are not that much different in the generations that follow. Without a voice our choice to do what we want, we are only pretending.