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Little Murders (1971)

PG | | Comedy | 9 February 1971 (USA)
Pitch black comedy about a young nihilistic New Yorker 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.

Director:

Alan Arkin

Writers:

Jules Feiffer, Jules Feiffer (based on the play by: "Little Murders")
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Elliott Gould ... Alfred Chamberlain
Marcia Rodd ... Patsy Newquist
Vincent Gardenia ... Carol Newquist
Elizabeth Wilson ... Marge Newquist
Jon Korkes ... Kenny Newquist
John Randolph ... Mr. Chamberlain
Doris Roberts ... Mrs. Chamberlain
Lou Jacobi ... Judge Stern
Donald Sutherland ... Rev. Dupas
Alan Arkin ... Lieutenant Practice
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Storyline

An idealistic girl, Patsy Newquist, saves a young apathetic photographer, Alfred Chamberlain, from a gang of hooligans. She falls for him, but he turns out to be a nihilist. They go out anyway. All this happens against the background of random shootings in NYC (at the time the play the movie is based on was written, the city was going broke). Her family accept him, but when she tries to change him and get him to find meaning in life, things go horribly wrong in a cruel twist of fate. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Funny in a new and frightening way !

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies. See more »

Quotes

Patsy Newquist: Are you really so down on people, or are you just being fashionable?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Zodiac (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Skating In Central Park
Composed by John Lewis
Performed by The Modern Jazz Quartet
Through the courtesy of United Artists Records, Inc.
See more »

User Reviews

 
Very dated yet oddly prescient
1 September 2019 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Patsy Newquist (Marcia Rodd) is an interior decorator in New York City who rescues a man (Elliott Gould as Alfred Chamberlain) from a prolonged beating that she hears going on outside of her apartment. When she does intervene the group of hooligans turns on her and Alfred does nothing but walk away. After she escapes them, she confronts Alfred about this, who does not apologize. In fact he says nothing. Patsy is instantly smitten by this self acclaimed "apathist", and sets out to make him see life is good and get him trying again - at anything. He is her project, yet she sees this as love.

The backdrop is an increasingly violent NYC in which property is randomly vandalized more than robbed, people are at first attacked - the way that Alfred was - and then random shootings/murders by unnamed snipers begin. Patsy's family of origin are like an educated version of The Bunkers on All In the Family. Eventually they have steel panels installed on their windows so that the snipers will not shoot into their apartment.

Alan Arkin plays a cop driven mad by all of the homicides in which the victims come from every walk, age, and ethnicity and none of them apparently knew their assailants.

Donald Sutherland has a small but memorable role as pastor of the First Existential Church who is able to grant Alfred and Patsy's request that the name of the deity not be mentioned in their wedding ceremony. His sermon - and he airs everybody's dirty linen at this time, apparently not believing in the confidentiality of the clergy - during that service starts a free-for-all fist fight.

The film has a very tie-dyed feel about it that is distinctively early 70s, yet how it deals with all of the random violence, particulary the frightening origin of the random killings in the final scene, seems all too "ripped from the headlines".


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 February 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jules Feiffer's Little Murders See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,340,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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