Prudence and the Pill

Watch Prudence and the Pill

"A sportive look at the fertility rites (and wrongs) of Western society."
  • R
  • 1968
  • 5.7  (579)

Prudence and the Pill is a delightful 1968 British comedy directed by Ronald Neame and starring the legendary Deborah Kerr, David Niven, and Robert Coote. Set amidst the backdrop of Swinging London, the film is a story of a wealthy couple and their efforts to maintain the outwardly perfect façade of their marriage while secretly living separate lives.

The film opens with Gerald (David Niven) and his wife Prudence (Deborah Kerr) in bed arguing about their sex life. Gerald is trying to convince Prudence to take the pill, but she's not interested. Prudence is content with their comfortable, albeit platonic, marriage as she believes they love each other enough to make it work. However, things start to unravel when Prudence becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair with her friend Betty.

In an effort to find chemistry in their partnership or maybe to make her husband jealous, Prudence pretends to be seduced by an old friend of Gerald's, Dr. Alan (Gerald Sim). Meanwhile, Gerald is having his own little dalliance with Betty, even though he is supposed to be in Paris on business. When Prudence becomes pregnant, neither she nor Gerald is certain which of them is the father, leading to a series of escalating misunderstandings and shenanigans.

What sets Prudence and the Pill apart from other comedies of the era is its refusal to shy away from the complexities of life and relationships. The film is highly intelligent and perceptive, both about the nature of love and desire and the challenges inherent in long-term relationships. Deborah Kerr gives an absolutely stunning performance as Prudence, delivering a nuanced portrayal of a woman struggling to figure out what she wants from life and love.

David Niven is equally impressive as her husband, a man who is full of contradictions but is ultimately as charming as he is infuriating. Together, Kerr and Niven make an electric pair that keeps the audience engaged throughout the film. Robert Coote injects humor with his portrayal of the couple's snooty butler, who is perpetually exasperated with his employers' antics.

The film's humor skirts the boundaries of the politically correct, but just manages to stay on the right side of the line. There's a certain amount of playfulness to the film's depiction of sex and marriage, and a touch of naughtiness too. Still, the film never feels crass or inappropriate, balancing wit with heart and soul.

Aside from the film's stellar acting, Prudence and the Pill also benefits from its wonderful 1960s London setting, capturing the era's stylishness with grace and panache. The film is a veritable showcase of modish fashions, sleek furniture, and swinging musical numbers, all of which add a compelling contrast to the film's more serious themes.

In conclusion, Prudence and the Pill is a smart, snappy and absolutely delightful film that captures the spirit of its era while remaining timeless in its themes. With its impressive cast, charming humor, and insightful exploration of the complexities of love and marriage, it still holds up brilliantly over 50 years after its release. It's a film anyone with a heart and a sense of humor can enjoy.

Prudence and the Pill doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (579)