"Thousand Clowns" update...a diatribe against our soulless society which says that even diatribes are pointless
Confrontations continually dog a new romantic couple in San Francisco: Katharine Ross as the estranged wife of a powerful lawyer and Jason Robards playing a low-rent horror movie actor who's house-sitting for a friend. Heavy-handed presentation 'with something to say' has Robards alternately shouting "Machines! Machines!" at the constant city traffic before quoting "Huckleberry Finn" and "King Lear". Too bad the only person listening to him is his new lady, who has problems of her own. Ross is a very attractive presence, but her performance is uneven; she's hesitant, then indignant...wistful, then frightened...contemplative, then angry. She enters the picture as a carefree flower child, but is soon turned into a psychological wreck being taunted by her soon-to-be ex. Director Tom Gries can't seem to get all the pieces in Robert Rudelson's overreaching screenplay to jell; there's too many angry or apathetic people milling about, too much miscellaneous misanthropic conversation which serves little purpose. The locations are well-captured, and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition provide a few dated, yet pleasant songs. However, "Fools" is just a writer's folly, one that not even Gries and Rudelson seem satisfied with. For his part, Robards is more handsome and three-dimensional than usual, but 93 minutes of his spouting off is far too much. An interesting misfire. ** from ****
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