7.5/10
2,971
70 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)
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In Australia's Outback during the early twentieth century, the impoverished Carmody family lives a nomadic life out of their wagon, but the mom and son want to settle, while the dad is against it.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Peter Ustinov
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Rachel is a 35 year old school teacher who has no man in her life and lives with her mother. When a man from the big city returns and asks her out, she begins to have to make decisions about her life and where she wants it to go.

Director: Paul Newman
Stars: Joanne Woodward, James Olson, Kate Harrington
Ship of Fools (1965)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A varied group of passengers boarding a ship bound for pre-WWII Germany represents a microcosm of early 1930s society.

Director: Stanley Kramer
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two bumbling magicians help a Middle Eastern prince regain his rightful throne from his despotic uncle.

Director: Charles Reisner
Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marilyn Maxwell
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Without hostile intent, a Soviet submarine runs aground off New England. Men are sent for a boat, but many villagers go into a tizzy, risking bloodshed.

Director: Norman Jewison
Stars: Carl Reiner, Eva Marie Saint, Alan Arkin
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In the early twentieth century, an artistically talented young man living in an English coal mining town is inhibited by his domineering and emotionally manipulative mother.

Director: Jack Cardiff
Stars: Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller
Wilson (1944)
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

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

Director: Henry King
Stars: Alexander Knox, Charles Coburn, Geraldine Fitzgerald
The Sandpiper (1965)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A free-spirited single mother forms a connection with the wed headmaster of an Episcopal boarding school in California.

Director: Vincente Minnelli
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Eva Marie Saint
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A young man returning home from World War II finds himself caught up in his parents' turbulent relationship.

Director: Ulu Grosbard
Stars: Patricia Neal, Jack Albertson, Martin Sheen
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A thirty-something square falls in love with a hippie and decides to "drop out" himself.

Director: Hy Averback
Stars: Peter Sellers, Jo Van Fleet, Leigh Taylor-Young
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

An adventurer searchers for hidden treasure in the Peruvian jungles.

Director: Jerry Hopper
Stars: Charlton Heston, Robert Young, Nicole Maurey
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A penniless woman meets a strange girl who insists she is her long-lost mother, and becomes enmeshed in a web of deception, and perhaps madness, in this powerful psychological thriller.

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mitchum, Mia Farrow
Edit

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
Edit

Storyline

12-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 (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:

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Barbara Harris. 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: [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 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

Entry of the Gladiators
(1897) (uncredited)
Written by Julius Fucík
In the score when Murray and Nick go to the Statue of Liberty
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Delightful and thought-provoking
10 August 2003 | by deirdre-3See all my reviews

I loved this movie passionately the first time I saw it, which was almost 30 years ago, and I love it every single time I watch it. Certainly aspects of 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!"


58 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 70 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed