Fred Zinnemann’s superbly sensitive film explores the anti-Nazi awakening in the 1930s of writer Lillian Hellman via persecution of a childhood friend, portrayed in excellent characterization by Vanessa Redgrave in title role. Richard Roth’s production is handsome and tasteful.
Hellman’s book Pentimento was the basis for literate screenplay. The warm and innocently-intimate childhood relationship between two girls serves as the solid foundation for later contrasting tragedy when their lives diverge.
The period environment, brilliantly recreated in production design, costuming and color processing, complements the topflight performances and direction.
Jane Fonda and Redgrave, neither one a shrinking violet in real life, are dynamite together on the screen.
1977: Best Supp. Actor (Jason Robards), Supp. Actress (Vanessa Redgrave), Adapted Screenplay.
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Jane Fonda), Supp. Actor (Maximilian Schell), Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Original Score