The principal problem Sidney Buchman had to face in adapting Mary McCarthy’s very successful college classmates novel was to transfer its colorful characterizations and story-telling without overloading his script with the mass of novelistic detail. His script does not completely solve this.
There’s little tampering with the original storyline but the filmscript concentrates on the story of Kay (Joanna Pettet), the first girl to be married and the one meeting the most tragic end. Throughout, she and Larry Hagman, as her philandering playwright husband, have the longest roles. However, if less important, the characters played by Joan Hackett and Jessica Walter, thanks to their performances, register as strongly as does Pettet. Hackett, particularly, is provided with a wide range of emotional changes.
Biggest letdown, and doubly so because her few scenes are so effective and played so well, is the part played by Candice Bergen. As Lakey, the ambisextrous leader of the Group (and the novel’s most memorable character), her treatment in Buchman’s script will puzzle the audience, as her few scenes at the beginning and at the end don’t match with the billing she receives.