Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Starring Timothy Buttons, Magge Smith

Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, the intimate, two-handler melodrama, was shot in 1971 under the title The Widower, then sat on the shelves accumulating dust for two years before getting theatrical release.

Set in Spain, the film stars Timothy Bottoms (right after The Last Picture Show) as Walter Elbertson, the aimless son of famous doctor (played by Charles Baxter).

While bicycling through the Spanish countryside, Charles meets Lila (Maggie Smith), a middle-aged woman. He falls hard for her, but she is resistant and rejects all his overtures, including some embarrassing scenes, in which he makes a pass at her.

At mid-point, the film becomes too sentimental, when it is revealed that Lila suffers from a terminal illness. Just when he apologizes to her for his misconduct (“I don’t take you to be cheap…you’re a lady”), Lila suddenly faints. Touched by Charles’ youthful naivetee (it’s his first love) and clumsy sincerity, Lila eventually invites him to bed.

There are no secondary characters, unless you count the landscape and its archeological sites.

Director Alan J. Pakula completed Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing in between two much stronger films, Klute (1971), starring Jane Fonda, and The Parallax View, featuring Waren Beatty.

Running time: 110 Minutes.


Maggie Smith as Lila Fisher
Timothy Bottoms as Walter Elbertson
Emiliano Redondo as the Spanish Gentleman
Charles Baxter as Dr. Elbertson
Margaret Modlin as Mrs. Elbertson
Andres Monreal as a tourist guide
May Heatherly as Melanie Elbertson