Fine Madness, A (1966): Kershner’s Serio-Comedy, Starring Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward, and Jean Seberg

Irvin Kershner directed A Fine Madness, an offbeat serio-comedy based on Elliott Baker‘s 1964 novel, centering on a frustrated poet unable to finish his grand tome.

Sean Connery, riding high on the success of the James Bond series, plays Samson Shillitoe, a poet who lives in Greenwich Village with Rhoda (Joanne Woodward), a loyal and devoted waitress.

When Samson cannot get inspired, he becomes belligerent and depressed.  Adding to his problems is a debt collector regarding late alimony payments to  previous wife, risking arrest. Samson assaults a police detective who accompanies the debt collector.

Samson loses his job as office cleaner when he has sex with a secretary (Sue Ane Langdon) whilst his cleaning machinery fills the office with soap suds. Samson earns a $200 fee for recital of his poetry to a group that ends in disaster.

Unbeknown to him, Rhoda seeks the help of psychiatrist Dr. West (Patrick O’Neal), claiming he can cure writer’s block. Rhoda gives Dr. West the $200 she collected for to treat Samson, fearing he might take his life.

Dr. West reluctantly agrees to see him, and when Samson confronts the Doctor about the return of his money, West is fascinated by Shillitoe and persuades him to become a patient. Dr. West then arranges a stay in a sanitarium upstate.

At the sanitarium, Dr. Menken (Clive Revill) is interested in experimenting on Samson a new surgical method for violent temper. Dr. West vehemently oppose such a procedure, since it’s not safe.

Dr. West’s wife, Lydia (Jean Seberg), is frustrated with their marriage, as he’s too busy as a popular TV guest for his pop psychiatric methods. Eventually she runs into Samson at the sanitorium. When she meets Samson, he seduces her in a therapeutic bath, while Dr. West secretly watches them.

Dr. West then changes his vote about the surgery. When Lydia rushes to stop the procedure it’s too late. Samson awakes up and punches Dr. Menken, which means the operation had no effect.

Back in the city, Sampson is served with subpoena, forcing him to pay his ex-wife or go to jail. Lydia comes to the rescue and pays the amount owed.
Lydia informs Samson she is leaving Dr. West, and when he invites her to live with them, Lydia informs him that she is pregnant, and he accidentally punches her.

In the last scene, we observe Samson fighting off an angry mob of indignant spectators.

Release date: June 29, 1966