Comedy about how New Yorkers are coping with pervasive urban violence, obscene phone calls, rusty water pipes, electrical blackouts, paranoia and ethnic-racial conflict during a typical summer of the 1970s.
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A girl brings home her latest boyfriend to meet her parents. This is done against the background of random shootings that had just begun in NYC at the time the play was written. How the family's failings are magnified by the social confusion of the times is the crux of the plot. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
According to Elliott Gould, he wanted Jane Fonda to play the role of Patsy. But when he met with Fonda, he was so intimidated by her that he could not speak. See more »
You know how I get through the day, Alfred? In planned segments. I get up in the morning and I think, "Okay. Sniper didn't get me for breakfast, let's see if I can take my morning walk without being mugged. Okay. I finished my walk, let's see if I can make it back home without getting a brick dropped on my head from the top of a building. Okay. I'm safe in the lobby, let's see if I can make it up in the elevator without getting a knife in my ribs. Okay. I made it to the hall, let's see if I can...
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"Little Murders" is another of the obscure films I saw at base/post theaters during my military days. It was certainly better than average and many of the images (especially the wedding scene with Donald Sutherland) have stayed with me through the years.
While I found it less funny during a recent viewing than I remembered, the message was still disturbing and contemporary. It is certainly satire and black comedy, but you often lose yourself in the story. It is a very individual film, different people will laugh at different times and at different things. During a theater viewing it seemed to isolate audience members from each other.
Jules Feiffer's screenplay is about Alfred (Elliot Gould), a NYC photographer and self- described "apathist", sort of an unengaged existentialist. He is completely disillusioned and has deadened himself to the cries, smells, sights and pains of violent city living; in a Big Apple even more adversarial than that of "The Out-Of-Towners".
Alfred can't feel much anymore but he takes an interest in Patsy (Marcia Rodd), a controlling interior decorator optimist, who wants to change him. Patsy has been able to stay upbeat and involved despite daily encounters with muggers, snipers, obscene callers, and a family that leaves a lot to be desired.
The film seems to be saying that harsh urban life cuts its people off from gentler human emotion. As an interior decorator Patsy's life is largely defined by her ability to control her possessions and the attitudes of those around her.
Patsy's father, mother and younger brother are living a painful parody of "family life," and Alfred's weirdness eventually allows him to fit right in. The dinner scene where he first meets her family is one of the funniest in film history.
The film illustrates that neither apathy nor constructive engagement are successful mechanisms for coping with the modern world. It seems to be saying that the only rational response to living in an insane environment is to vigorously participate in the insanity.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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