One is a Lonely Number (1972)

“Aimee, you have got to snap out of it: you’re not the first girl to go through this, and you’re not going to be the last!”

When her husband (Paul Jenkins) suddenly decides to divorce her, a woman (Trish Van Devere) struggles to create a new life for herself.


This hard-to-find melodrama — made shortly before Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore broke ground in American feminist cinema — is earnest and well-meaning but ultimately a disappointment. While Van Devere (George C. Scott’s wife) is an appealing heroine, and tries her best with the material she’s been given, she can’t quite overcome either the pedantic script or the amateurish performances of most of her co-stars. The best, most natural scenes involve Melvyn Douglas as a widowed grocer who helps Van Devere to break down her shell of defensiveness and accept her loss (what a breath of fresh air his presence is!). While the script finally begins to build some steam towards the end — when Van Devere takes a chance on love with a mysterious stranger (Monte Markham) — it can’t quite make up for the pedestrian narrative that’s come before.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Trish Van Devere as Aimee
  • Melvyn Douglas as Aimee’s widowed grocer friend

Must See?
No, but Van Devere and Douglas make it worth a cursory look if you stumble upon it on television. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.


One Response to “One is a Lonely Number (1972)”

  1. First viewing. Not a must.

    But I’m glad that the assessment makes a point of noting Scorsese’s ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’…as that adequately indicates the shortcomings of this film.

    When it was made, we didn’t have the Lifetime Movie Channel. Now we do. Which kind of makes this film irrelevant. (Not that I’m praising Lifetime…)

    The script is patchwork stuff – combined to illustrate how Van Devere will get on with her life, post-divorce. It also appears to be very anti-men (augmented by the Janet Leigh character – who gets some lively lines).

    I actually find Van Devere’s character problematic. Granted, in the opening scene both people in the break-up come off as fairly bizarre. But post-break-up – and though it’s likely an accurate depiction – Van Devere’s Aimee comes off as someone who has had no close relationship with a man outside of her husband, is ill-equipped for dealing with another male, and is generally suspicious and defensive. (Unless, of course, she’s dealing with someone like Douglas, who is old and non-threatening.) The effect of all of this is not exactly satisfying in dramatic terms.

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