7.1/10
2,171
41 user 24 critic

Little Murders (1971)

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")
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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 photographer, Alfred Chamberlain, from a gang of hooligans. She falls for him, but he turns out to be a nihilist consumed with apathy. They hook up anyway, and she brings him home to meet her parents. All this happens against the background of random shootings that had just begun in NYC at the time the play the movie is based on was written. Her family had already lost a son, so they accept him. However, when the girl 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 »
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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Co-stars John Randolph and Doris Roberts also would later appear together in 1989's National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation as character's Clark and Ellen Griswolds' (Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo) in-laws. See more »

Quotes

Judge Stern: I'll tell you what God was to my father. God got my father up those six and a half flights of stairs, not counting the stoop.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remington Steele: Breath of Steele (1984) 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.
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User Reviews

 
Twisted
17 June 2008 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

"Little Murders" is another of the obscure films I saw at base/post theaters during my military days. It was certainly better than average and many of the images (especially the wedding scene with Donald Sutherland) have stayed with me through the years.

While I found it less funny during a recent viewing than I remembered, the message was still disturbing and contemporary. It is certainly satire and black comedy, but you often lose yourself in the story. It is a very individual film, different people will laugh at different times and at different things. During a theater viewing it seemed to isolate audience members from each other.

Jules Feiffer's screenplay is about Alfred (Elliot Gould), a NYC photographer and self- described "apathist", sort of an unengaged existentialist. He is completely disillusioned and has deadened himself to the cries, smells, sights and pains of violent city living; in a Big Apple even more adversarial than that of "The Out-Of-Towners".

Alfred can't feel much anymore but he takes an interest in Patsy (Marcia Rodd), a controlling interior decorator optimist, who wants to change him. Patsy has been able to stay upbeat and involved despite daily encounters with muggers, snipers, obscene callers, and a family that leaves a lot to be desired.

The film seems to be saying that harsh urban life cuts its people off from gentler human emotion. As an interior decorator Patsy's life is largely defined by her ability to control her possessions and the attitudes of those around her.

Patsy's father, mother and younger brother are living a painful parody of "family life," and Alfred's weirdness eventually allows him to fit right in. The dinner scene where he first meets her family is one of the funniest in film history.

The film illustrates that neither apathy nor constructive engagement are successful mechanisms for coping with the modern world. It seems to be saying that the only rational response to living in an insane environment is to vigorously participate in the insanity.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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