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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 producer fighting to preserve his career. Written by
Modern themes contrast with bygone era characters and settings
The Last Angry Man explores the themes of living with integrity and not being corrupted or co-opted by the world's materialism. Paul Muni plays a Jewish doctor living in a Brooklyn neighborhood that has, to use a euphemism, changed. He continues to treat the neighborhood's residents for minimal fees, including a very young Billy Dee Williams, who plays a gang-banger, angry at the world, who Muni believes has a brain tumor.
Muni's nephew is an aspiring journalist who is caught up in glitz and glamor. When Muni saves the life of a young black woman who has been dumped on his doorstep after an assault, his nephew senses an opportunity and writes the story in the newspaper. A television producer picks up on it and sees profiling Muni on his new television program as his ticket to fame.
Muni's character is really too complex to portray completely in this film, but the interplay between the doctor and his patients portrays him as both compassionate and moral. He relates on a spiritual level to the character Billy Dee Williams plays, sensing that both of them are rebelling in their own ways against injustice and abuses of power. Dr. Abelman's last act is to visit Williams in jail rather than proceed with his greatly anticipated television appearance, reinforcing his determination to live a life of integrity and in the words of Thoreau (an author quoted frequently throughout the film), "march to the beat of a different drummer."
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