Cinema: A Wife's Tale

The Pumpkin Eater of the nursery thyme put his wife in a pumpkin shell, and there he kept her very well. Giving a wry contemporary twist to Mother Goose, Penelope Mortimer's vivid first-person novel suggests that the poor creature then swiftly developed shell shock. In this slow, strong, incisive film version of the book, the ironing out of a well-kept wife's unkempt psyche is portrayed with harrowing perception by Anne Bancroft.

Actress Bancroft, the Bronxish beatnik of Broadway's Two For the Seesaw and the iron-willed mentor of The Miracle Worker, stretches her talents to astonishing breadth as Mrs. Jake Armitage, a British...

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