A middle-aged iconoclast, doggedly avoiding the tedium of employment and conventional life, faces the prospect of losing custody of his young ward.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on his original play)
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Ship of Fools (1965)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

1933: An ocean liner belonging to a second-rate German company is making a twenty-six day voyage from Veracruz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany. Along the way it will stop in Cuba to pick up... See full summary »

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer
Plaza Suite (1971)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Three separate stories concerning relationship issues are presented, each largely taking place in suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. In story one, suburban New Yorkers Sam and ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Hiller
Stars: Walter Matthau, Maureen Stapleton, Barbara Harris
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A vaudeville duo agree to reunite for a TV special, but it turns out that they can't stand each other.

Director: Herbert Ross
Stars: Walter Matthau, George Burns, Richard Benjamin
Jinx Money (1948)
Crime | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man wins $50,000 in a card game with gamblers, but is soon found dead and the money missing. Slip and Sach find the money near where the body was discovered, and soon find themselves the ... See full summary »

Director: William Beaudine
Stars: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell
Our Town (1940)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Change comes slowly to a small New Hampshire town in the early 20th century. People grow up, get married, live, and die. Milk and the newspaper get delivered every morning, and nobody locks... See full summary »

Director: Sam Wood
Stars: William Holden, Martha Scott, Fay Bainter
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a toy manufacturer feels ignored and unappreciated by by his wife and children, he begins to rekindle a past love when a former employee comes back into his life.

Director: Douglas Sirk
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Joan Bennett
Wilson (1944)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A chronicle of the political career of US President Woodrow Wilson.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Alexander Knox, Charles Coburn, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Woman's World (1954)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Needing to fill the position of general manager of his company, and believing that an executive's wife is crucial to her husband's success, auto industry mogul Gifford brings three couples ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Van Heflin, Lauren Bacall, Clifton Webb
Joan of Paris (1942)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An RAF squadron is brought down over occupied France. The flyers get to Paris in spite of the fact that the youngest, Baby, is injured. He must be hidden and his wounds cared for. The Gestapo has already issued orders for their arrest.

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Michèle Morgan, Paul Henreid, Thomas Mitchell
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

During the WW2 housing shortage in Washington, two men and a woman share a single apartment and the older man plays Cupid to the other two.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Slip and Sach are in the sidewalk star-gazing business when they see a murder committed in a room at the El Royale Hotel, blocks away. In spite of the fussy-and-fidget objections of the ... See full summary »

Director: Reginald Le Borg
Stars: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Fred wants to start a new life with a new wife, but it isn't easy to give Paulette the gate for another mate.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, Macdonald Carey
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Murray Burns
...
Dr. Sandra Markowitz
...
Gene Saks ...
Leo Herman
...
Albert Amundson
Philip Bruns ...
Sloan (as Phil Bruns)
...
The Man in the Office (as John MacMartin)
...
Nick Burns / Wilbur Malcome Burns / Theodore Burns / Raphael Sabatini / Dr. Morris Fishbein / Woodrow Burns / Chevrolet Burns / Big Sam Burns / Lefty Burns
Edit

Storyline

Twelve-year-old Nick lives with his Uncle Murray, a Mr.Micawber-like Dickensian character who keeps hoping something won't turn up. What turns up is a social worker, who falls in love with Murray and a bit in love with Nick. As the child welfare people try to force Murray to become a conventional man (as the price they demand for allowing him to keep Nick), the nephew, who until now has gloried in his Uncle's iconoclastic approach to life, tries to play mediator. But when he succeeds, he is alarmed by the uncle's willingness to cave in to society in order to save the relationship. Written by Warlen Bassham <wcb@zso.dec.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sooner or later, you'll fall in love with 'A Thousand Clowns'! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1966 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Mil payasos  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie features a scene where Jason Robards walks in front of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts during its construction. See more »

Goofs

After Leo leaves the apartment, two different cardboard cutouts of him are used, with different facial appearances. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Murray Burns: [shouts at rows of houses] Neighbors, I have an announcement for you. I have never seen such a collection of dirty windows. Now I want to see all of you out there on the fire escape with your Mr. Clean bottles, and let's snap it up!
See more »

Crazy Credits

In opening credits: and introducing Barry Gordon as Nick. In the end credits, Gordon is credited to all the different names his character has tried: Nick Burns, Wilbur Malcome Burns, Theodore Burns, Raphael Sabatini, Dr. Morris Fishbein, Woodrow Burns, Chevrolet Burns, Big Sam Burns and Lefty Burns. In the film, however, he is just called Nick. See more »

Connections

References Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Cry of Freedom
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
In the score during the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

One of those rare gems you could see over and over again
1 August 1999 | by (Midwest) – See all my reviews

Jason Robards, Jr. plays the lead role of the unique, quirky, firmly unemployed Murray Burns and effortlessly masters the clever dialogue the way it was meant to be performed. Writer, Herb Gardner, created a delightful character like those you yourself rarely meet who have an uncommon outlook on life.

This movie caught my attention and prompted me to check out the screenplay from the library so I could experience the dialogue again and again.

There are so many one-liners and passages to admire, and you'll enjoy the charming performance on ukuleles of "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby" by Robards and Barry Gordon which is played against the background of Murray and Sandra exploring New York.

The sad thing about discovering a gem like this play for the first time is knowing that you won't experience that same pique of excitement and discovery again the second time through it again. But you do continue to marvel at the mind that can create such a fresh screenplay.

Unfortunately, I could not find much more information about the author, Herb Gardner, than what was on the cover jacket of the screenplay: He was born in Brooklyn and worked as a teen-ager selling orange-juice and checking coats at the Cort and National Theatres. "He saw some plays as many as 140 times and reports that that's an excellent way to learn the craft of the dramatist." He was also married to actress Rita Gardner.

Some favorite quotes:

"If most things aren't funny, Arn, then they're only exactly what they are; then it's one long dental appointment interrupted occasionally by something exciting, like waiting or falling asleep. What's the point if I leave everything exactly the way I find it? Then I'm just adding to the noise, then I'm just taking up some more room on the subway."

". . . it could have been any day, Arnie. . . sitting in the train going through any day. . . in the dark through any year. ... Arnie, it scared the hell out of me. You got to know what day it is. You got to know what's the name of the game and what the rules are with nobody else telling you. You have to own your days and name them, each one of them, every one of them, or else the years go right by and none of them belong to you. . . And that aint' just for weekends, kiddo. . . ."


16 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why is it called A Thousand Clowns? AccidntlTourist
How I just saw it jcoonrod
Locations Kathryn-3
Dixieland 'Stars And Stripes Forever' In Film surf_sussman
Barry Gordon rickmalibu1
Song that Jason Robards sang -with banjo accompaniment jacandjim
Discuss A Thousand Clowns (1965) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?