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Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

70 customer reviews

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Total price: $116.75
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Editorial Reviews

Cigarette smoke and laughter... The hollow clink of martini glasses and biting one-liners... This was the famed lunch scene at the Algonquin Hotel's Round Table of the 1920's, home to a circle of mutually supportive young artists that defined the heyday of New York sophistication and a literate era of wit and intellect. At the heart of the round table sat Mrs. Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), one of the sharpest, most biting wits of the past century. But beneath the raucous laughter is a darker and richer tale filled with passionate affairs, friendship and tragedy, all captured in this striking masterpiece of unrequited love and self-destructive impulses from acclaimed director Alan Rudolph (The Secret Life of Dentists, Choose Me).

All-Star Cast! Featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Matthew Broderick (The Producers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off), Peter Gallagher (TV's The O.C., American Beauty), Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow (The Royal Tenenbaums, Shakespeare in Love), Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, Lost in Space), Jennifer Beals (TV's The L Word, Devil in a Blue Dress), Andrew McCarthy (Weekend at Bernie's, TV's Kingdom Hospital), Wallace Shawn (Clueless, The Princess Bride), Martha Plimpton (Parenthood, 200 Cigarettes), Lili Taylor (High Fidelity, Short Cuts), James LeGros (Living in Oblivion, The Rapture), Nick Cassavetes (Face/Off, director of The Notebook), Stephen Baldwin (Posse, Threesome), Stanley Tucci (Big Night, The Devil Wears Prada), Keith Carradine (Nashville, The Long Riders) and Jon Favreau (Elf, Swingers).

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Alan Rudolph
  • New video interview with composer Mark Isham
  • Bonus documentary Would You Kindly Direct Me to Hell? The Infamous Dorothy Parker
  • Trailer and TV spot

Product Details

  • Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, Matthew Broderick, Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals
  • Directors: Alan Rudolph
  • Producers: Robert Altman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BZN1OQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,939 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Kali on July 10, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
The biting and caustic wit of Mrs Parker is bought superbly to life by the versatile actress Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays the brittle writer, critic and sometimes playwright to vulnerable perfection.
This is not an easy film to watch and I can understand why some people found it hard to get into. I mean the 1920s were supposedly a time of fun, jazz, speak easy booze and laughter all around, the Great War was over and life was back to normal.
However watching the desperation of Mrs Parker's generation, the bright young things drink themselves silly, take drugs and lash out at each other in a perpetual game of verbal cat-o-nine-tails makes you realise that perhaps everything was not as "normal" as most people hoped.
The film jumps back and forth through Mrs Parker's life, some of the best scenes are in black and white, and we are treated to subtle barbs, cruel wit and tasty treats in the guise of a crackingly good cast, with Mathew Broderick doing himself proud as the sweet talking but brutal rouge who abandons his pregnant lover (Mrs Parker), Andrew McCarthy as Mrs Parker's husband Eddie, fresh from war and addicted to morphine.
All in all this is a deliciously complex film that will you need to see more than once, well worth an evening in with a box of pop-corn and a friend to share the sarcasm, and the very satirical humour that runs through the film from beginning to end.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Tom Knapp VINE VOICE on January 14, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Critics moaned when Jennifer Jason Leigh was tapped to portray Dorothy Parker, the Grand Lady of Barbed Words whose light shone brightest in the colorful 1920s. And, predictably, many critics trashed Leigh's performance. But, while Leigh made her name making sexy comedies and sexy thrillers, she actually does an excellent job here as the witty wordsmith in "Mrs. Parker & the Vicious Circle." OK, so she played a sexy wordsmith, getting naked with fellow writer Charles MacArthur (Matthew Broderick) for an eye-candy romp. But the sex and nudity, for all its visual appeal, could have hit the cutting-room floor without much being lost from the film. The romance that makes this film worth watching is the romance that never happens: Parker's non-romance with humorist Robert Benchley (Campbell Scott).

Let's face it, Broderick shared top billing with Leigh because he's a name. But it's Scott who deserved it; it's Scott's Benchley who provided an excellent foil for matching wits and barbs with Parker. They were, it seems, the perfect match -- but the film tells us they never consummated for fear of losing what closeness they already had.

Parker, Benchley and, to some extent, MacArthur were part of the Algonquin Round Table, the so-called "vicious circle" of the title, a regular gathering of the luminaries of the writing field back in the good ol' days of Prohibition. And director Alan Rudolph assembled a fine cast to round out the circle: Robert Sherwood (Nick Cassavetes), Edna Ferber (Lili Taylor), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Malcolm Gets), Harold Ross (Sam Robards) and Alexander Woollcott (Tom McGowan), among others, plus occasional cameos by the likes of Will Rogers (Keith Carradine) and a lively Harpo Marx (J.M. Henry).
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Roman Ramirez on December 11, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I loved this movie. For those who were captivated by Jennifer Jason-Leigh's over-the-top performance in The Hudsucker Proxy, Mrs Parker is a must-see movie. JJL wears a bob and a cloche hat like nobody else. Her dialogue is not, as some have said, incomprehensible, but simply a marvellous re-rendering of that fabulously affected clipped New England style favoured by street-wise New Yorkers of the period, as essential to the production as the wardrobe. See this movie and then read The Great Gatsby, or, even better, Butterfield 8. The books will then come alive. I particularly liked the way black and white was used for the 'flash-forward' sequences, and colour for her more colourful, happier past in the twenties, unlike the opposite method which is usually used. A movie with great style and earnest attention to period detail - It's got me reading Dorothy Parker's poetry, whereas before seeing this movie I knew nothing about her.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert Chadwick on February 23, 2006
Format: DVD
For those of you who are tired of waiting for this to be released on DVD in the US, you can order it from It is available in Canada. It's Region 1, so there's no problem playing it. Of course, your shipping is going to add about $10 to the cost; but I considered it acceptable to pay just over $20 in total to have this on DVD.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 15, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I was altogether unfamiliar with Dorothy Parker, and the Algonquin Round before this film. The only writer of their generation that I had read was F. Scott Fitzgerald, as required reading in school. I have never read "The New Yorker," which also plays a part in the story.
This film does a good job educating the ignorant, such as myself, while spinning an interesting story about an interesting woman. The layout of the film, the cuts through time interspersed with Parker's witticisms made for nice viewing and opened up the era for me. Highlights and disappointments, romance and heartbreaks, the movie plays like the way I think a Jazz Age novel should.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is great in the title role. The accent is a little odd, mainly because I had just see "Hudsucker Proxy" where she uses an almost identical accent.
"Mrs. Parker and her Vicious Circle" sparked my interest in writer's of this generation, and that is what a biographical film should do. A greater background knowledge of the personalities represented adds to the enjoyment of the film.
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