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James Earl Jones
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Jimmy Morgan lives in a self-contained world: a serious agoraphobic, he never leaves his apartment and his main connection with the world is the telephone. After all, everything he needs is right there or it can be sent for, like his regular call girl. He doesn't have to work because his father left him a large bank account and a half interest in the family business. Jimmy thinks he's well off in his self-imposed version of solitary confinement, but a swift fate hangs over him, for he is a gambling addict and he's been emptying his bank account to pay off his mob-owned bookie. Worse yet, he signs documents he hasn't read and the last one he signed turned control of his share of the business over to his unscrupulous partner Leo, who has siphoned all the money away. Jimmy's only close connection to his family is his adoring 11-year-old daughter, who seems blissfully unaware of her father's deteriorating mental health and looming financial crisis.
All the bad news comes at once, as Jimmy finds he's lost his half of the business and the fact that he owes his bookie $52,000. He knows the mob will do him serious bodily harm if he doesn't come up with the money fast and he's forced to liquidate the entire contents of his apartment, leaving him sitting on the hard floor of a totally empty living room, looking like he's ready to be taken away like the furniture and other valuables he's just lost. In the span of a very short time careless Jimmy, who was too absorbed in his gambling and other pleasures to mind his financial and business affairs, has gone from seemingly prosperous to virtually homeless. The screen fades to black as an unshaven Jimmy, looking like the homeless bum he likely very soon will be, sits on a bench talking to his young daughter, who will soon become another lost item in his life when she moves away with her mother.
Nearly all the characters in Jimmy's orbit are worth mentioning, even though some are heard (over the telephone) but never seen: the ex-wife, who must have been through hell with her lazy, neurotic husband, the male friends who want to help but can't, the hooker who cares for him because of his kindness and crooked partner Leo, who gives a memorable, lashing speech, reminding the irate Jimmy that one who pays no attention to his own business affairs, spends like a drunken sailor and signs contracts he hasn't even read deserves just what he gets.
A tiny but interesting facet of the movie is the homeless man who inhabits the tiny foyer of Jimmy's building. Jimmy even talks to this man via the closed-circuit TV and the intercom and tells the man he can stay where he is overnight to keep out of the cold. The homeless man seems to be symbolic of Jimmy's impending plight and when he disappears you get the feeling that Jimmy won't be long in following him out the door and into the street.
This remarkable movie features a fine cast and an unforgettable performance by Elliott Gould, who deserved an award for this little-known film. I was lucky enough to tape it and wish it would be aired again for the benefit of all who've never seen what Elliott Gould is capable of with material like this.
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