As the fiercely dedicated general practitioner who tries to help the sick, the poor and the unfortunate in his decrepit neighborhood, Paul Muni is the testy old man who faces life without compromise and David Wayne is the troubled television executive fighting to preserve his career. Written by
The Last Angry Man marks the farewell big screen appearance of Paul Muni who had been for about a dozen years concentrating on his stage career. Muni goes back to his roots in this one playing an elderly Jewish doctor in a mixed Brooklyn neighborhood of 1959. He upholds a lot of values that the present generation seems to have lost. He's a man content to be a general practitioner and even makes house calls. He lives with wife Nancy Pollock and nephew Joby Baker.
Baker is an aspiring journalist and writes a story about his uncle when he saves a young black woman played by an unknown Cicely Tyson at the time. A local paper picks it up and it comes to the attention of TV producer David Wayne who thinks the doctor might be a good subject for a television documentary.
Wayne gets a lot more than he bargained for, Muni is quite the opinionated crusty old soul and not willing to just go on the air like a Queen for a Day contestant. He likes his life the way it is, doing good work for it's own reward and enough to live on. This puts him in conflict with Baker and with Wayne who are a pair that could have been working models for Budd Schulberg's Sammy Glick. People like that who want a quick buck without the work, Muni calls galoots and they seem to be multiplying in his life.
Daniel Mann directs a finely tuned cast in support of Paul Muni's swan song. This film marks an early appearance of Billy Dee Williams as a brain tumor stricken teenager who his mother, Claudia McNeil brings to Dr. Muni for help. Muni of course takes him to his lifelong friend, a Park Avenue neurosurgeon played by Luther Adler.
Adler has one of his great screen roles also here. He and Muni both went way back over 40 years to the Yiddish Theater on New York's Lower East Side. That helps in both of their performances as lifelong friends and colleagues because they actually were.
Others of note in the cast are Dan Tobin as the sleazy network executive Betsy Palmer as Wayne's supportive wife and Robert F. Simon as the head of the drug company that would sponsor the show.
It's Paul Muni's show and a really grand farewell to one of the finest actors ever.
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