Prudence and the Pill

Prudence and the Pill

Prudence and the Pill
Film poster
Directed by Fielder Cook
Ronald Neame
Produced by Kenneth Harper
Ronald J. Kahn
Written by Hugh Mills
Starring Deborah Kerr
David Niven
Music by Bernard Ebbinghouse
Cinematography Ted Moore
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox
Release dates
  • 23 May 1968 (1968-05-23)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $3,570,000[1]
Box office $4,500,000 (US/ Canada)[2]

Prudence and the Pill is a 1968 British comedy film made by Twentieth Century-Fox. It was directed by Fielder Cook and Ronald Neame and produced by Kenneth Harper and Ronald J. Kahn from a screenplay by Hugh Mills, based on his own novel. The music score was by Bernard Ebbinghouse and the cinematography by Ted Moore.

The film stars Deborah Kerr and David Niven with Robert Coote, Irina Demick, Joyce Redman, Judy Geeson, Keith Michell, Michael Hordern and Edith Evans.

Plot

The film portrays the conflicting and comical attempts by five couples to avoid pregnancy by using contraceptive pills. All of their efforts are ultimately unsuccessful, with the result that all five of the women give birth the following year.

The story revolves around a wealthy London banker named Gerald Hardcastle (Niven) and his wife Prudence (Kerr), who live together unhappily, sleeping in separate bedrooms and speaking to each other only when necessary. The five couples in the film are (1) Gerald and his French mistress Elizabeth, or "Liz" (Demick), (2) Prudence and her doctor, Dr. Alan Hewitt (Michell), (3) the Hardcastles's maid Rose (Turner) and their chauffeur Ted (Armstrong), (4) Gerald's brother Henry (Coote) and his wife Grace (Redman), and (5) Henry and Grace's daughter Geraldine (Geeson) and her boyfriend Tony Bates (Dundas).


All of the couples want to use a birth-control pill called "Thenol", but none of them wants to admit it. Prudence, Grace, and Ted manage to acquire supplies of pills, Grace through a prescription written by Hewitt, and Ted from the local chemist, or pharmacist, who happens to be a friend of his. However, Grace soon becomes pregnant, because Geraldine has been stealing her pills and replacing them with aspirin tablets. After Geraldine admits her pill-switching scheme to Grace and Grace tells Gerald about it, Gerald uses the scheme on Prudence to generate incriminating evidence of her affair.

Meanwhile, believing that Rose is too conservative to accept contraception, Ted puts his tablets in a vitamin bottle and tells her she needs them for her health. However, Rose is worried about becoming pregnant, so she switches the pills in her vitamin bottle with the pills in Prudence's Thenol bottle, just moments after Gerald replaces Prudence's Thenol with aspirin. The result, then, is that Rose unwittingly trades Ted's Thenol for Gerald's aspirin. She soon becomes pregnant, and Ted tells Gerald about the pills he gave her, but says nothing about telling her they were vitamins. When Gerald asks her why her Thenol pills failed to work, she asks him how he knew about them, thinking that he has already found out about her taking Prudence's pills, at which point they both realise that she has revealed her guilt.

Now knowing why Prudence is still not pregnant, Gerald buys more aspirin, determined to expose her relationship with Hewitt. This eventually works, as do whatever measures Grace took to keep her pills away from Geraldine. By the end of the film, Geraldine and Prudence are both expecting.

Eventually, Gerald gets into trouble with both Liz and Prudence. Liz grows dissatisfied in her covert relationship with Gerald, who has been hiding her from his family, and decides to leave him. Prudence finds the letter that Liz wrote to Gerald about her decision, and Gerald finds Hewitt's Thenol prescription for Prudence. At first, neither Gerald nor Prudence is willing to grant the other a divorce, but Prudence offers to take the blame after becoming pregnant, as long as Gerald will spare Hewitt's reputation. Gerald accepts this arrangement grudgingly, but before meeting with Hewitt, he happens to see Liz while driving through town, and she tells him she is going to have his baby. Now able to see her openly, and with a child on the way, Gerald quickly and enthusiastically agrees to an amicable divorce. A few months later, a total of six newborn babies arrive, Rose having had twins.

Cast

Actor Role
Deborah Kerr Prudence Hardcastle
David Niven Gerald Hardcastle
Robert Coote Henry Hardcastle
Irina Demick Elizabeth Brett
Joyce Redman Grace Hardcastle
Judy Geeson Geraldine Hardcastle
Keith Michell Dr. Alan Hewitt
Edith Evans Lady Roberta Bates
David Dundas Tony Bates
Vickery Turner Rose the maid
Hugh Armstrong Ted the chauffeur
Peter Butterworth Chemist
Moyra Fraser Woman in Tea Shop
Annette Kerr Gerald's Secretary
Harry Towb Racetrack Official
Jonathan Lynn Chemist's Assistant
Michael Hordern (uncredited) Dr. Morley

References


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. This figure is a rental accruing to distributors.

External links