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|Index||58 reviews in total|
I loved this movie passionately the first time I saw it, which was almost
years ago, and I love it every single time I watch it. Certainly aspects
it have gotten more meaningful as I've gotten older. The cast, full of
people I had no idea of at the age of 10, turned out to be full of some of
my all-time favorite actors (William Daniels, Barbara Harris, Jason
Robards...how can you go wrong?)
I think some of the reviewers here (especially the ones giving it mixed reviews) are under the impression that the viewer is supposed to view Murray as a totally sympathetic character. He's not, and I don't think he's intended to be. Murray is really fun to be around for over half the movie; you're rooting for him all the way. As Sandy says, "No wonder Nick loves it here. I'd love to live here too if I were eleven years old!" When it's really time for Murray to settle down and do something to keep Nick, he can't bring himself to do it, and his free-spirited ways start looking, to the objective viewer, shallow and irresponsible. Murray needs to grow up, and do it fast, and growing up means compromising. That's the lesson; not that Murray was right all along, but that you can't be completely free if you do in fact have something left to lose, and Murray does. But life isn't a black and white choice between happiness and unhappiness, it's a continuum, and sometimes "doing the best you can" is enough.
I found it truly interesting that, throughout the movie, Nick was what Murray describes as "a middle-aged kid," seeming older than Murray himself. At the end, when Murray grows up, Nick seems to revert. He throws a full-scale tantrum, and that's the first time in the whole movie I remembered he was actually a child. I think that's a testament to Gordon's skill as an actor.
For anyone who read/saw the play: the director didn't seem to quite "get" the point of the play, and changed the end of the first and second (or is it second/third? I don't have it in front of me) to make the end of the movie more of a downer than the play. I never quite forgave him for that. The end of the play suggested that compromises have to be made, life goes on and it can even be good. The end of the movie seems to suggest that the last scene was unsubtly a "sell-out." I disagree. But I still loved the movie.
"Getting back to reality..." "I'll only go as a tourist!"
"A Thousand Clowns" has been my favorite movie for 30 years -- not
because it's the world's finest work of cinema (it's not; mainly it's a
well-filmed play -- good, but not a masterpiece). What makes it my
favorite is that the story is profoundly human, the script is unique
and genuinely witty, the performances are delightful, and -- most
importantly -- it's a movie that takes on new meaning as you mature.
When I first saw it I was in college and Murray was my hero; his crisis, to me, was all about selling out. Later, after I had started a family, Murray's story seemed less about selling out than about owning up to his devotion to his nephew. By the time I showed this movie to my teenage children, I had come to see Murray's brother -- the master compromiser -- as the hero. Now my children are grown, and I just watched it again -- and for the first time I saw that the buttoned-up male social worker (Mr. Amundson, played by William Daniels), shows great heart in the second act and is the only character who aims at all times to do what he knows is right. Amundson hasn't become my hero, but I saw him as a good man this time -- and I never as a young viewer imagined that he was anything but laughable. Also on this viewing, I came full circle to see that Murray really IS the hero in this story -- not because he's a charming nonconformist but because he does achieve redemption.
What keeps this movie so important for me is that, even after raising children, I still respect Murray's conflict and so I think his redemption really is heroic -- though no more heroic than any parent's true devotion. (If you don't respect Murray's conflict -- if conformity has never bothered you, or if you think he's just a bum, period -- then you might not enjoy this movie.)
This movie grows up with you, but some things remains constant with every viewing: the film's stunning wit, its passion for authenticity (Murray's speech on the fire escape is a deeply moving plea to wake up and live), and its charmed performances. If you like Jason Robards, you will love him in this film. And Gene Saks, as the TV star Chuckles the Chipmunk, does some of the best comedy work I've seen anywhere. (Notice his timing on the line, "She's done a wonderful job," and the ridiculous walk he came up with for the line, "You told me her name was Minnie Mouse!")
As a bonus, this movie gives you a sidewalk-level, free-wheeling view of Manhattan when it wasn't so overpopulated and Lincoln Center was just being built. It's enough to make you want to quit your job and start collecting eagles.
It's truly a shame that this film has escaped the attention of the last few generations of movie watchers -- not only have most people not seen this film, it's likely that only a small percentage of folks have ever even heard of it. I dare say that both the character Jason Robards portrays and this film as a whole are more relevant today than half of the comedies produced 5 or 10 years ago. The bottom line is this, if you're looking for great acting and smart dialogue, and are getting tired of the 'I've-just-wasted-the-last-couple-of-hours-of-my-life' feeling that comes over today's average TV viewer or cineplex visitor, then you simply must do yourself a favor and seek out this hidden gem.
A choice movie, and an original. The writing is sharp, the characters well played. Highlight is Martin Balsam's defense of "getting along," climaxing in "I am the best possible Arnold Burns." Robards holds it all together, but the supporting cast, especially Daniels and Sax, deserve lots of credit. And of course young Barry Gordon was perfect. Movie makers everywhere take note: It's the script, stupid!
Most of us have "favorite" films that we think no one else in the world has seen. You just want to tell everyone to go out and rent it, hoping that they too will say, "Wow, what a movie! I can't believe I've never seen it before!" "A Thousand Clowns" is just such a film. Rarely seen on television, this Oscar nominated (best picture) Oscar winning (best supporting actor/Martin Balsam) film is special in many ways. Superbly cast (child actor Barry Gordon is a must see!) and smartly written. The satire and tragedy blend so well you will be caught laughing and crying at the same time throughout the movie.1000 Thumbs up!
This movie, one of the best ever made, has become part of my life!
The setting is New York City in the 60s and the movie excellently portrays the feeling of the city at that time. It features incredibly witty and clever dialogue that my family and I unceasingly quote from. This movie deals with the topics of conformity vs. individuality. A movie that can be watched over and over and enjoyed all the more with each viewing! It will enrich your life to see it.
A Thousand Clowns is about a twelve-year-old Barry Gordon who lives
with his Uncle, Jason Robards. A social worker played by Barbara Harris
shows up and ends up falling in love with Robards. But the child
welfare people try to force Robards to get a good job so that they
won't have to take Gordon away from him. Gordon, who also fancies
Harris, looks up to his Uncle as his role model and loves his
lifestyle. But then Gordon sees that Robards is willing to give up that
great lifestyle in order to keep his "family" together.
The film is an excellent portrayal of the "not a care in the world" way of life and should definitely be seen by anyone who loves comedy. It's one of only a few films that made me laugh out loud and I'm sure if you see it, you'll agree with me. It's only flaw is one scene in which Gordon sees what his uncle's life has been reduced to. But even that was necessary as it shows the way anyone would succumb to social workers.
The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Picture, Supporting Actor (Martin Balsam as Robards' down to earth brother), Adapted Screenplay, and Score. Sadly, Best Supporting Actor was the only award that it was able to take home that night.
Jason Robards, Jr. plays the lead role of the unique, quirky, firmly
unemployed Murray Burns and effortlessly masters the clever dialogue the
it was meant to be performed. Writer, Herb Gardner, created a delightful
character like those you yourself rarely meet who have an uncommon outlook
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. . . ."
You'll laugh and you'll cry and you'll take delight in being human; perhaps as fine a piece of ensemble acting as there is. Can, I believe be compared with Broadway Danny Rose as an bright and beautiful light on the human condition. Enjoy!
I first saw it years ago as an idealistic college student who did not want
to become one of the great gray working millions, saddled with a job I
didn't like, a huge mortgage, etc.. At that time, I fell in love with the
movie and the characters. That's the problem. The movie cast a spell over me
and sprinkled some weird kind of fairy dust over me. I wanted to be Murray
Burns: a nonconformist, a smart ass, a non-contributor, a guy who ALWAYS did
ONLY what HE ALONE wanted to do. And so, for a few years, that's what I did.
Those years, I must admit, were not very happy ones for me. Self-indulgence is a dead-end. I needed to be working hard, towards a goal, with a family, for me to feel truly fulfilled. And I think that is the case with most of us.
Murray Burns and his world are totally unrealistic AND unhealthy. Do not try to emulate him. It is a trap and a prison. It's like smoking dope all the time: you lose your drive and you increase your cynicism.
But perhaps I'm being too serious. Murray does have the kid, and he seems to fall in love at the end, so maybe there is hope for him. The movie has some great lines and funny characters. The black and white scenes of NYNY in the 1960's are wonderful, Martin Balsam as Murray's brother is one of our greatest actors, Barbara Harris is great, William Daniels is great, Barry Gordon as Rafael Sabattini, etc., is great.
See it and enjoy it but don't take it to heart like I did.
Alexander Hamilton imitations???
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