CARNAL KNOWLEDGE: (1971 Available for streaming on Prime Video) “Carnal knowledge” was for years a legal and commonly used euphemism for sexual intercourse. It was also the title of a low budget 1971 popular movie that became, in polite society, the film everyone hated, but everyone had to see. It was produced and directed by Mike Nichols, written by Jules Feiffer, and starred Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret, Candice Bergen, and Rita Moreno. The script was originally written as a play but when Jules Feiffer sent it to Mike Nichols, Nichols thought it would work better as a film. The script contains language which was rarely heard on the screen before this time. Many critics deemed the language too strong, and the film was so controversial that one theater manager was actually convicted for “distributing obscene material.” The conviction was upheld by the Georgia State Supreme court. Ultimately the case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was ruled that the movie was not obscene. If you only like films in which you can identify with one of the screen characters, this may not be the film for you, but it is historically significant. Carnal Knowledge is a coming-of-age portrait of masculinity and male sexuality in the post-World War II culture. It follows the sexual thoughts and exploits of two Amherst College roommates, Sandy (Art Garfunkel) and Jonathan (Jack Nicholson) over a 25-year period, from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Sandy idolizes women and wants an intellectual girlfriend while Jonathan is more interested in a woman's physical attributes defined by her bust size and figure. The film is in three parts. In Part I Sandy and Jonathan are college roommates. Part II follows the men several years after college and part III when the men have become middle-aged. Critics were all over the map on this film as exemplified by two of the best, collectively known as Ebert & Siskel.  Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and called it clearly Mike Nichols' best film. Siskel gave it only two-and-a-half stars out of four and called it a one-note story. Barbara and I were motivated to see this fifty-year-old film because we recently listened to an audiobook titled “Mike Nichols, A Life”, written by Mark Harris. It has a fascinating chapter on the making of Carnal Knowledge. We liked the audiobook and we also liked the movie. GRADE B+