A Delicate Balance (film)

A Delicate Balance is a 1973 American-Canadian-British drama film directed by Tony Richardson, and starring Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield, Lee Remick, Kate Reid, Joseph Cotten, and Betsy Blair. The screenplay by Edward Albee is based on his 1966 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name.

A Delicate Balance
DVD cover
Directed byTony Richardson
Produced byEly Landau
Written byEdward Albee
StarringKatharine Hepburn
Paul Scofield
Lee Remick
Kate Reid
Joseph Cotten
Betsy Blair
CinematographyDavid Watkin
Edited byJohn Victor Smith
Distributed byAmerican Film Theatre
Release date
November 12, 1973
Running time
133 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom

The film was the second in a series produced by Ely Landau for his American Film Theatre,[1] a subscription-based program of screen adaptations of notable stage plays shown in five hundred theaters in four hundred cities.


The film spans three days in the life of Agnes and Tobias, an upper middle class couple who share their comfortable suburban Connecticut home with Agnes' acerbic alcoholic sister Claire. It is matriarch Agnes who helps the trio maintain a delicate balance in their lives, held together by habit, shared memories, and considerable consumption of dry martinis.

The seemingly peaceful facade of their existence is shattered with the arrival of longtime friends Harry and Edna who, suddenly overcome by a nameless terror, fled their home in search of a safe haven. The couple is followed by Agnes and Tobias' bitter, 36-year-old daughter Julia, who has returned to the family nest following the collapse of her fourth marriage. Their presence leads to a period of self-examination, during which all six are forced to explore their psyches and confront the demons hidden there.


Critical reception

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "a fine, tough, lacerating production", and added, "Richardson's cast could hardly be better".[2]

TV Guide rated the film two out of four stars, calling it "unfortunately stiff, dull, and extremely stagy".[1]

Awards and nominations

Kate Reid was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture.

See also


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