7.5/10
2,893
67 user 26 critic

A Thousand Clowns (1965)

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

Director:

Fred Coe

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jason Robards ... Murray
Barbara Harris ... Sandra
Martin Balsam ... Arnold
Gene Saks ... Leo
William Daniels ... Albert
Philip Bruns ... The Man in the Restaurant (as Phil Bruns)
John McMartin ... The Man in the Office (as John MacMartin)
Barry Gordon ... Nick Burns / Wilbur Malcome Burns / Theodore Burns / Raphael Sabatini / Dr. Morris Fishbein / Woodrow Burns / Chevrolet Burns / Big Sam Burns / Lefty Burns
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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:

...IT'S A LIFT FOR THE SPIRITS See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 September 1966 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Mil payasos See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Harrell See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Per William Daniels' memoir, several months after production on the film concluded, he attended a private screening of an initial cut of the movie. This version contained no location filming, no marching band music score (as was featured in the play), and the role of Leo Herman was performed by Paul Richards and not Gene Saks (who had successfully played it on stage but was originally unavailable for filming). This early cut proved to be such a disappointment to the film's makers, Herb Gardner decided to relinquish his screenwriting fee in exchange for permission from the producers to rewrite several scenes, hire the now-available Saks to substitute Richards' performance, shoot a number of exterior scenes on location and extensively re-edit the film into its final version. See more »

Goofs

As Murray puts on a shirt, his toothbrush appears and disappears in his mouth between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Murray: [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 called Nick, Nicky, and Nicholas. See more »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Yes, Sir, That's My Baby
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Sung an played on ukuleles by Jason Robards and Barry Gordon
Also sung and whistled by Jason Robards and Barbara Harris
See more »

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User Reviews

 
I bet you didn't know comedy could be so smart & thoughtful.
18 February 2005 | by bjeffrey66See all my reviews

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.


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