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Is it to late for this movie to have a cult following?
honor-124 November 2004
I just watched this film because my dad recommended it as a movie he

remember as being funny…mabey. I was skeptical at the beginning, I thought to myself a dated film with an absurd summery on the back. The only reason I sat and watched it was the list of actors, Sutherland and Gould. I was immediately enthralled. I have been a fan of Terry Gilliam films for a long time and to see a film that can achieve his insanity and social messages with out the elaborate sets and costumes Gilliam uses is astounding. The acting is superb, there is no other word that can encapsulate these performances. Every character is riveting until the end. The monologues given are thought provoking to say the least. My original thought that this film was dated could not be farther from the truth, I was in fact surprised by the connections that can be drawn to our modern times. I am surprised that this film did not receive more praise. It is also disappointing that the other Alan Arkin films were given less than glowing reviews. The only question I have is: is it to late to have a cult following for this movie? Anyone else in?
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Pitch-perfect black comedy
craigjclark27 July 2001
It doesn't get any darker than this, folks. Jules Feiffer shows off his penchant for absurdity and his mastery of the monologue (Lou Jacobi, Donald Sutherland and director Alan Arkin each get one powerhouse scene where it's basically all them with the other characters reacting). The cast is excellent and their handling of Feiffer's language is amazing. Elliot Gould's performance is particularly effective, and Vincent Gardenia as his father-in-law is hysterical.

I saw this film and then read the play it was based on, and both give off the same claustrophobic air of desperation while still being side-splittingly funny. It is definitely worth hunting down. In the words of Father Dupas, it is "all right."
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The kind of film you won't see everyday
waldorfsalad11 February 2000
A black comedy in every sense of the word. It's too bad that Alan Arkin doesn't direct more movies because he really scored with this one. It's a movie that still seems so fresh today because of its storyline, even after close to 30 years. It was pertinent back then and even more so today. It's great to see appearances here by Arkin and Donald Sutherland, and it's one of Elliott Gould's best roles.

Keep on the lookout for this in your late night t.v. schedule. It's really worth seeing again (and especially if you haven't seen it yet).
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One of Donald Sutherland's most memorable scenes in a movie
trailmeister1 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Sutherland's wedding monologue is so delightfully inspired, it should be available SOMEWHERE on the internet via search engine, but since it is not, I have quoted Jules Feiffer's brilliant writing below. Remember this is supposed to be a marriage ceremony:

Rev. Dupas (Sutherland): You all know.. why we're here. There's often so much sham about this business of marriage. Everyone accepts it: ritual. That's why I was so heartened when Alfred asked me to perform this ceremony. He has certain beliefs, which I assume you all know; he is an atheist, which is perfectly all right, really it is; I happen not to be, but inasmuch as this ceremony connotes an abandonment of ritual in the search for truth, I agreed to perform it. First, let me state to you, Alfred, and to you, Patricia, that of the 200 marriages that I have performed, all but seven have failed. So the odds are not good. We don't like to admit it, especially at the wedding ceremony, but it's in the back of all our minds, isn't it: how long will it last. We all think that, don't we? We don't like to bring it out in the open, but we all think that. Well I say, why not bring it out in the open. Why does one decide to marry? Social pressure? Boredom? Loneliness? Sexual appeasement? Love? I won't put any of these reasons down, each in its own way is adequate, each is all right. Last year I married a musician who wanted to get married in order to stop masturbating. Please, don't be startled, I'm NOT putting him down. That marriage, did not work. But the man TRIED. He is now separated, still masturbating, but HE IS AT PEACE with himself because he tried society's way. So you see, it was not a mistake, it turned out all right. Now, just last month I married a novelist to a painter. Everyone at the wedding ceremony was under the influence of an hallucinogenic drug. The drug quickened our physical responses, slowed our mental responses, and the whole ceremony took two days to perform. NEVER have the words HAD SUCH MEANING. Now THAT marriage, should last. Still, if it does not, well, that'll be all right, for don't you see, any step that one takes is useful, is positive, has to be positive because it's a part of life, even the negation of the previously taken step is positive, that too is a part of life. And in this light, and only in this light, should marriage be viewed: as a small, single step. If it works, fine! If it fails, fine; look elsewhere for satisfaction. To more marriages, fine, as many as one wants, fine. To homosexuality? Fine! To drug addiction? I will not put it down, each of these is an answer for somebody. For Alfred, today's answer is Patricia. For Patricia, today's answer is Alfred. I will not put them down for that. So what I implore you both, Patricia, and Alfred, to dwell on, while I ask you these questions required by the state of New York to "legally bind you" -- sinister phrase, that -- is that not only are the legal questions I ask you, meaningless, but so too are the inner questions that you ask yourselves, meaningless. Failing one's partner, does not matter. Sexual disappointment, does not matter. Nothing can hurt, if you do not see it as being hurtful. Nothing can destroy, if you do not see it as destructive. It is all part of life, part of what we are. So now: Alfred. Do you take Patricia to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love -- whatever that means -- to honor, to keep her in sickness and health, in prosperity and adversity -- what nonsense! -- forsaking all others, -- what a shocking invasion of privacy! Rephrase that to more sensibly say, if you choose to have affairs, then you won't feel guilty about them. -as long as you both shall live, or as long as you're not tired of one another.. ?

Alfred: Yeah.

Rev. Dupas: And Patsy, do you take Alfred to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love -- that harmful word again, could not one more wisely say, communicate? -to honor,-- I suppose by that it means you won't cut his balls off, but then, some men like that! -to obey,-- well, my first glance at you, told me you were not the type to obey. So I went to my thesaurus, and I came back with these alternatives: to show devotion, to be loyal, to show fealty, to answer the helm, to be pliant. -General enough, I think, and still leave plenty of room to dominate. -in sickness and health, and all the rest of that GOBBLEDYgook, so long as you both shall live.. ?

Patsy: (confused, speechless.. finally stammers:) I do.

Rev. Dupas: Alfred and Patsy, I know now that whatever you do.. will be all right.

Rev. Dupas: To Patsy's father, Carroll Newquist -- I've never heard that name on a man before, but I'm sure it's all right -- I ask you sir, feel no guilt over the $250 check you gave me to mention the Deity in the ceremony. What you have done is all right. It's part of what you are, it's part of what we all are. And I beg you not to be overly perturbed, when I do not mention the Deity in the ceremony. Betrayal, too, is all right, it too is part of what we all are.

Rev. Dupas: And to Patsy's brother, Kenneth Newquist, with whom I had the pleasure of a private chat, I beg you feel no shame, homosexuality is all right, really it is.. it is perfectly all right..

Kenneth Newquist: (screaming) Sonovabitch!! Aarrggghh!! (assaults the minister.) (Marriage ceremony descends into a brawl.)
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LITTLE MURDERS (Alan Arkin, 1971) ***
Bunuel19764 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
High-pitched black comedy which descends into hysteria by the end and, being overlong for its purpose, becomes something of an exhausting experience. While the connotations to the urban/social malaises being satirized are decidedly disturbing, the film is nonetheless anchored by an excellent script (Jules Feiffer adapted his own play for the screen – that same year, he would write CARNAL KNOWLEDGE which proved equally frank and perceptive of human relationships) and performances.

Elliott Gould – one of the most representative actors of American cinema in the 1970s – is in typical unconventional hero mode (he had actually originated the role on the stage), while Marcia Rodd – who’s delightful – co-stars as his levelheaded girlfriend. Vincent Gardenia appears as Rodd’s human dynamo of a father, Lou Jacobi as a matrimonial Judge, Sutherland as a radical Minister and director Arkin himself as a seriously disturbed Detective. Given the latter’s acting background, it’s not surprising that he would choose to highlight just these aspects in his first feature-length stint behind the camera. The result, then, may be technically unfussy – though a happy exception is made with the inspired slow-motion depiction of Rodd’s shocking assassination. In view of the script’s prevalence for monologues, Arkin tends to favor long takes: especially effective are those delivered by Jacobi, Sutherland and Gould himself – when, immediately prior to the sniper incident, Rodd cajoles him into expressing why he “feels” the way he does i.e. apathetic (by his own admission) and which has reduced him to literally photograph excrement for a living!

The contributions of the flustered Gardenia (the head of an eccentric family whose houselights are forever dimming), Sutherland (in the first of two re-unions with Gould, his co-star from M.A.S.H. [1970] – the wackiness of his appearance here reminded me of the actor’s bit as Jesus Christ in the anti-war drama JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN from the same year), Arkin (who, naturally, gives himself a brilliant paranoid speech – compounded by a stammer), Gould’s ultra-sophisticated parents (including John Randolph), and even an inveterate obscene telephone caller nicknamed ‘The Breather’ (with his sudden snapping to normality when informed of Rodd’s demise, thus giving himself away as a former beau of hers!) are extremely funny for those attuned to the film’s uniquely offbeat if melancholy mood. The surreal ending, then, sees Gould and Rodd’s family barricaded in their house and taking to indiscriminate sniping themselves! Incidentally, Fox’s DVD edition of this includes an Audio Commentary featuring Feiffer and Gould – which must be pretty interesting (for the record, I got hold of the film through ulterior sources).
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it'll murder you with laughs
lee_eisenberg4 June 2006
When they were all in their heyday, Elliott Gould, Alan Arkin (who also directed) and Donald Sutherland collaborated on the over-the-top black comedy "Little Murders", in which Gould plays emotionally vacant New York photographer Alfred Chamberlain, hooking up with vivacious young Patsy Newquist (Marcia Rodd) in the midst of several hundred unsolved homicides in the Big Apple. In the process of everything, the series of events exposes the flaws in all the characters, especially Patsy's parents (Vincent Gardenia and Elizabeth Wilson).

I think that my two favorite scenes are the appearances of Sutherland and Arkin. Sutherland plays a priest who seems to be a cross between Sutherland's characters from "MASH" and "Kelly's Heroes"; Arkin plays a detective who spouts out the craziest monologue explaining why there's a conspiracy behind the murders. Overall, this is very much a New York kind of movie. I should identify that there are several very long scenes during the movie, but it's certainly not a flick that you'll forget anytime soon. Impressive.
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aimless-4617 June 2008
"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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Mesmorizingly different and not so far from reality
mim-810 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This film is something else. Wanting to portray the numbness of the American society, and apathy it fell into in the 60's, (remember the Stones song "Mother's little helper"), this play by Jules Pfeiffer shows the depth of urban dystopia where only a person without any sort of emotions can survive, thus the entire population in order to survive don't care if it's bullied, beaten, shot at, cheated in elections, deprived of it's liberties and robbed in every sense. They just don't react, and that's what Alfred Chamberlain (Eliott Gould) represents. On the other side of the spectrum is Patsy Newquist (Marcia Rodd), optimistic, cheery individual in the middle of the mayhem, that simply has to be destroyed by it, only the numb survive. I think that this is one of the best black comedies ever put on screen, and yes Donald Sutherland and his monologue are a riot along with persistence the key characters show in taking all the abysmal society throws at them (for example neighboring snipers and constant power failures). Alan Arkin as the Lt. Practice is the funniest epitome of this society.

People it's scary, but things like this, and in not so smaller scale are happening to societies around the world. Fantastic film!
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Seminal New York Black Comedy
ween-38 August 1999
Jules Feiffer's paean to NYC paranoia written in the same tone as his comic strips. Completely over-the-top and hilarious. Alan Arkin's bit is priceless. This movie puts the "funk" back in dysfunctional. This is proto-"Seinfeld" stuff, folks. Climb into the darkest fantasy of every red-blooded Gothamite.
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Sweet like agony
single_entendre4 August 2001
Succinct yet long-winded, hilariously unsettling, this black black black comedy is delicious the first time around, coming at you like ray of light through a keyhole five rooms away. And it gets better with multiple viewings. Elliot Gould is a tousled, endearing anti-hero and Donald Sutherland gives perhaps the best screen performance EVER of an existentialist minister with a bad haircut and a fondness for the phrase `all right.' Sometimes, when my mind wanders over the film, I'll remember a scene, a line, and everything is suddenly all right. Thank GOD for this film. Now that I've found it I'll never have to watch another movie again.
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Sutherland, Gould and and Arkin. Need I say more?
TheTwistedLiver29 June 2007
I asked the clerk at my local video store to suggest a comedy from the 70's on VHS as my DVD player was broken. He recommended Little Murders and got a glazed over look in his eye and an idiots smile on his face, obviously reminiscing over a scene in the film. That was enough for me to want to rent it, and I'm glad I did. The acting in this film is outstanding, the highlight for me was Alan Arkin playing a Dr. Strangelove esquire police officer and of course the scene with Donald Sutherland as the minister. The film holds up remarkably well for having been filmed over 35 years ago, it must have been ahead of it's time when it came out. Aside from a few slang terms that were definitely from a by gone era, the film could easily take place today. All in all worth the effort if for nothing else than an outstanding cast of Arkin, Sutherland and Gould. Did it get any better than that acting wise in the 1970?
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wildly uneven, but a monumental effort of pitch-black NEW YORK (in caps) comedy
MisterWhiplash27 March 2015
Man, 1971 sure was a violent year in movies, wasn't it? Perhaps it was a very accurate depiction of the period - I wasn't alive then, so I can only surmise from reading books or asking relatives or seeing the movies - and look at the bunch that were out that year: Straw Dogs, Dirty Harry, A Clockwork Orange, The Devils, Punishment Park, even Duel or Play Misty for Me. And in the midst of all of this is one of those "sleeper" films, directed by Alan Arkin (would be direct again, who knows, but this was his shot and he took it), scripted by Julies Feiffer (Carnal Knowledge), Little Murders is among the most violent. It may not have the viscera of 'Clockwork' or the more notorious side of 'Dogs', but it's set in motherf***ing New York City in the early 70's and violence is, seemingly (or actually) everywhere. Right from the start, hell, the man and woman who make up the main couple here meet under circumstances of violence, and it ends with something that one might expect in the movie If...

It's very difficult to describe what the movie's "about" except to say that Alfred (Gould) is a photographer who likes to take pictures of s*** (the word he uses for it isn't bleeped by the way) and doesn't really like to fight people - he says he doesn't feel anything, but seems pleasant enough - until during one of these fights he meets the (Alfred's word) "formidable" Patsy (Newquist), and as they have a kinda-sorta romance over time she brings him to meet her parents. And then they decide to get married. And try to live a life. And will Alfred change? Who knows... maybe, and then...

This is irreverence cinematically personified, even more than something like MASH, which also had Gould and Donald Sutherland, the latter of whom I'll get to in a moment. Because the satire here is at such a fever pitch, even in the down-time moments, Arkin won't let the audience catch a break. I imagine that was also the case in Feiffer's play, and how much that differs from this film I can't say. Having Gordon Willis shoot your film certainly makes things much more ambitious and, of course, DARK. And there's some strange... strange is the word to continue using here, better than quirky, things that the filmmakers do here. The lights, for example, at the Newquist's apartment keep dimming in and out for... reasons. It's explained as much as why their son is such a wild lunatic. Of course for other familial quirks, you just got to, as Alfred sort of does, take things in stride.

What Little Murders ultimately is "about", if anything, is the powder-keg like nature of New York, and how it makes its characters and denizens totally crazy. This is more akin to something like Taxi Driver than what one might expect given these actors and the director (MASH, which was its own sort of irreverence, or Altman or Mel Brooks or take your pick of wild risk-takers, is light as a feather compared to this). A big part of it is that everybody here, I must say again, all of the major characters are varying degrees of nuts: even Alfred, who is supposedly the closest to an audience surrogate, is a case study of a sort of withdrawn, don't-give-a-damn personality that, in the wrong hands, could be a disaster of a performance.

Thankfully, Gould is brilliant here, in both the small moments and when he finally does go "big" at the end, which also feels like a tie-in to Taxi Driver in terms of the dark-violence department (though the very last line has the cutting "HA!" feel of Drangelove, just trying to make things connect a little, folks, it's a real original of a film), and the actors who play the parents - Gardenia and Wilson - give their characters some dimension here and there that probably wasn't there on the page. And even in the small roles people are like whacked-out cartoon characters (no wonder, Feiffer was and still is a cartoonist): Sutherland and Arkin himself as the detective are the best positive and negative examples of this. While Sutherland almost threatens to steal the movie with his show-stopping, gut-bustingly/deadpan funny performance as a minister at the wedding, giving the sort of monologue that is gold for an actor to recite... Arkin, directing himself, goes so far over the top to a point where it doesn't work, even, yes, for Little Murders.

You don't get many movies like this any more. Sure, there are "quirky", "off-beat" New York comedies, and sometimes they can get shocking in their violence. But rarely do you ever get a film that demands the viewer pay attention, even when (or because) it's at its most non-sensible and strange. And characters *do* have to face obstacles here and face change, which is impressive. By the time Gould's Alfred reaches that final 15/20 minutes, it's really more of a tragedy than anything else, and the delivery he has right before this when he comes to a personal realization about himself, and then that is taken from him in a snap, and then his final turn around at the end, it's a roller-coaster of a look at the horror of a mega-violent, nihilistic place like New York could get then.

If only the first half was a little stronger or more consistent - there are points things are SO manic with the family when we first meet them it seems like it could go, and does go, on too long - it would be a masterpiece. As it is, Little Murders reflects a point of view and psychology that is deranged, twisted, and often very funny, a mirror for the time and place not unlike the UK with Clockwork.
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Hilarious...but not a comedy...
S_Craig_Zahler6 November 2011
Exact rating: 8.25

The pulse of this movie is subversive and menacing, and even though there are many, many great laughs, I think the classification of it as a comedy is wrong. It never feels like a comedy. In terms of tone, it is something like the pilot for Twin Peaks and a Mamet play and an Odets play, but with some strange off off off off Broadway claustrophobia and seventies nihilistic horror. It displays a collapsed and paranoid urban environment in which people are combative with words and isolated by them.

I feel it should be essential viewing for any writer, as it contains four of the best-- if not the actual four best-- monologues I've ever heard in a movie. Arkin and Sutherland have amazing monologues that are only marginally upstaged by those given by Gould and Jacobi.

I laughed many, many times (as did many people in the sold out screening I attended), but when it ended, the haunting and thoughtful core of the movie lingered more than did the comedy.

A rich and allegorical piece that deserves serious study and accolades.

(I saw a 35mm print of the movie at Film Forum, N.Y.)
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Feiffer's wonderfully bitter and brilliant script
rokcomx23 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Last night's Fox Move Channel gem was Little Murders, an obscure 1971 flick based on a play by one of my favorite authors and cartoonists, Jules Feiffer (Unicorn in the Garden and the terrific "lost" TV show My World and Welcome To It, with William Windom as the cartoonist). Little Murders has Elliott Gould as a mild mannered guy living in the big city who gets beaten and robbed all the time, but he just smiles and daydreams thru the beatings -

It's mainly about how violent urban life eventually inures people to the horror, to the point where even a little old lady says things like "Gunshots? So what? I get shot at every time I walk out the door." It's very sharp satire, with several amazing bits of dialogue, mostly monologues by Gould but also a wonderfully wonky scene with young longhaired Donald Sutherland as an alternate lifestyle preacher, conducting an insane wedding ceremony with ridiculous hippie-slash-anarchist vows being recited by the increasingly manic Sutherland.

I sometimes think Feiffer thought hippies and anarchists were the same thing (kinda true, on some subtle and ultimately superficial levels), but his terrific writing - and Gould's equally terrific reading - made the film a sweet treat for me! I'd never even heard of it before the credits rolled ----- yay FMC!

After I looked it up on IMDb, I found someone had transcribed the wedding scene - while it loses a lot without Sutherland's performance, you can get an idea of just how dark and funny author Feiffer was ---- what a wonderfully bitter, cynical, and brilliant man!

Little Murders may have been a little cerebral and dark for audiences coming out of the '60s who'd soon pledge their troth to Dirty Harry, Easy Rider, the Exorcist, et al (three fine films, but with none of the artistry, wit, intelligence, and pitch-perfect performances of Little Murders).

As someone who still considers film-making first and foremost (ideally) an artform, rather than mere entertainment, it was great to find these IMDb posts for Little Murders - more and more, it turns out, people DO appreciate these movies, even/if it's a quarter or half century later. Few master painters were ever lauded in their own lifetimes either ---
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Very Funny and Disturbing - Today
Yxklyx22 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Little Murders (1971, Alan Arkin) was excellent (except for Alan Arkin) I'm really surprised at the below 7 rating for this movie on IMDb. The only thing I can think of is that the characters don't really come across as people but as allegorical ideas - and while I usually don't care for up-front allegory in movies (most movies do a better job at hiding it), here it works. The comedy in this one is not dated at all (except for Alan Arkin's over-the-top humor bit - but his scene is just a minor cameo). Donald Sutherland has this incredible scene as an existential live and let live (go with the flow) wedding ceremony presider where the "deity is not to be mentioned". Elliot Gould (who I'm not a big fan of) here is at his best. He's got a monologue sequence reminiscent of Nicholson's in The King of Marvin Gardens. It all wraps up excellently - it's absurd, it's dark, it's evocative. 9/10
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Tough twisted comedy
ChungMo30 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Finally seen this after many years of hearing about it. Don't know what to make of it. The acting in this film is incredible, everyone is giving 100%. Arkin clearly was letting his fellow actors do their job. The script is really good too. There's excellent comic dialog through out.

The story...well that's the problem. What starts out to be a satire on life in New York City in the late sixties veers into paranoia, then near surrealism, back into satire and finally into pitch-black comedy. When it ended I had no idea what the point was (not that a film needs a point but this seems like there was a point intended). The movie takes a somber turn when Gould's character reunites with his crazy parents after many years and just when you think it's going to end, Marcia Rodd's character is horribly murdered and movie continues for another 20 minutes. Given that the movie revolves around Ms. Rodd's well played comic character for the first hour, the loss really tosses the whole film into a pit of despair it can't get out. The comedy tries to return when Gould's character returns to his parent-in-laws apartment but the terror from the murder and following subway scene overwhelms. Mr. Arkin starts out funny in his brief appearance as a detective but his character quickly goes crazy. After witnessing the murder, the craziness is no longer funny.

Given that Mr. Feiffer was always a New Yorker, I can't imagine what he was getting at by portraying the city in such a negative light. I was waiting for the movie to go full out, like Terry Gilliam's Brazil did, but it kept returning to normal scenes of New York. The film almost becomes science fiction but never gets there. Having lived in the city at the time (still live here), I understood some of the references but the sniper stuff was out of line.

I can only imagine that Mr. Feiffer was thinking of the surrealist classic "L'age d'Or" where the main character starts shooting a rifle out a window (he also throws a giraffe out the window). If Ms. Rodd's character survived and she joined the other characters in the ending, the film might have worked.

Recommended for the wonderful performances and great script. The sensitive might want to stop after the parental reunion scene.
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msl-d22 March 2003
If you have not been fortunate enough to have viewed this comic masterpiece, I can only believe that you have yet to consider yourself alive.

This film is truly a pure comic farce and one of my all time favorites.

I saw this film in the theatre over thirty (30) years ago and I still remember parts of it and chuckle loudly as though it were just yesterday.

I can only believe that if whoever makes the decision to transfer videos to DVD hasn't transfered Little Murders, he or she should choose another vocation because his movie acumen is slim to none.
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pegina18 October 2000
One of the funniest movies I own. The wedding scene alone is worth viewing.

Alan Arkin did an excellent job on directing these unbelievable actors. This is a screen gem!

"fly eastern...number one to the Sun!"
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One of the funniest black comedies, and saddest too.
uszoninyc15 February 2016
Little Murders is a film about the 'little deaths' we all live - in order to survive.

I love this move for so many reasons - including it's terrific cast - of many great character actors, the script/screenplay by Jules Pfeiffer is top-notch, and it takes place in somewhere near and dear to me - 'my' NYC - and my neighborhood; the upper west side.

Back then, it wasn't yuppies, sky-high prices, it was young families, - middle-class, primarily, and older families as well.

This film was made just a few years before the infamous 'Ford to NYC: Drop Dead' cover of the Daily News, as the city was dying, our finances were a shambles, chaos was everywhere,e but, we all tried to lead some semblance of normalcy amid the chaos.

So many people when they found out I was from NYC, they'd say; it's it as dangerous as they say,' and I was a kid, and I wasn't scared, nor were the many others - kids, families - it was our home, and it pulsed its a life, which is now - so, so sadly - almost gone - replaced by vacuous big-box chains, hollow-eyed people from 'elsewhere,' who - well, they're not like we were.

We all died little deaths back then.

As this film is a black ConEdy (uproariously so - Lou JacobI's ('endless) speech about how hard it was for his parents and family, back at the turn of the century (in which every fact, including the number of relatives, rooms in the apartment, and street where it was) change with each telling, but, amidst the changes, facts don't; people came here, and it was hard But, they persevere in order to make a better life for their families.

Another standout is Donald Sutherland as Rev. Dupas, who's wedding sermon is so funny, so biting, but, 'that's okay,' as, wed just about ended the 'Summer of Love' era, and were moving into the 'me decade,' - the 'do your own thing'-era.

Alfred Chamberlain (Elliot Gould - in the ONLY film I can tolerate him, and, the ONLY role - I think, aside from MASH - he's perfect in) says he's a nihilist, but, I think the reality is, he's more emotionally dead, because, it's easier to not feel.

Feeling things is much harder. It leaves one open to - yes, love, but, also hurt, pain, but, if one doesn't feel, doesn't allow this bad and good to happen, they become static, unchanging.

Marcia Rodd - so wonderful, and so, so underrated is Patsy - the woman who's going to change Alfred from the unfeeling man he is, into the vision manhood she wants him to be.

Many of the other reviews here will tell you much more in depth about this marvelous film than I want to. I want you to watch it, oh, most definitely, but, what I want you to take from this little entrée is to try and peel a little bit away the surface, and try to feel for yourself what it is Alfred so desperately doesn't want to.
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Morose and misguided, but interesting for the most part.
fedor810 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Sort of like a manic cross between a pointless and overrated Harold Pinter play, Ken Russell (minus the sexual stuff), and farce. LM starts off rather badly, with the quasi-beating up of Gould by a group of punks (he should have had all of his bones broken by the time the "cavalry" arrived). Rodd comes down to his aid, but he just walks away, uninterested in helping her when they attack her. That absurd scene set the tone for the following 30 minutes which aren't that great, especially Gould's first encounter with Rodd's parents: that was embarrassing to watch, with rather bad overacting by most involved. Gould's character makes very little to no sense; even if this is meant to be a comedy, there has to be an underlying reality in the characterization for it to be funny/poignant/whatever, but there is barely any in his case. While the other characters are exaggerated, at least it is clear who and what they are meant to represent. This is not the case with Gould's character.

Still, as mostly unfunny and absurd as the movie is, there are some highlights, such as Sutherland's wedding monologue, and then, later, Arkin's. The rest of the movie is an uneasy and mostly unsuccessful mix of comedy and drama (the toughest mix to achieve). The problem with the comedy aspect is that barely anything was funny. Some smile-worthy moments, but that's all. Not a good sign in a comedy. Semi-clever one-liners just aren't enough. Additionally, the movie was directed in such a heavy-handed manner that it can barely elicit any laughs or smiles. Arkin's direction is good, stylish even, but not appropriate for a comedy, not even for a heavy satire. Actors constantly shouting out their lines does not make the script any funnier. "Manic, loud humour" is old-fashioned and dull. The transition from farcical dialogue to the overly dramatic scenes of Rodd's murder and the scenes after it, simply does not work.

Feiffer, the writer of this muddled script/play, was obviously highly dissatisfied with American society (as any self-respecting Left-winger has to be, the disappointment basically stemming from the fact that Marxism didn't prevail), and on the DVD commentary he says that in LM he was trying to show where America was going, and he concluded that America had now reached that point. Feiffer, the self-proclaimed Nostradamus! He also added that the movie wasn't just about New York and its violence (and other ills) but the country as a whole. There are, of course, HUGE problems with these statements/opinions.

First of all, New York was as violent as it was back in the 60s and 70s mainly due to Feiffer's liberal friends, with their soft policies on crime and punishment. Feiffer is from New York, or so he says, but I find it hard to believe that he ever set foot there. After all, the DVD was released after Mayor Giullliani - a Repubican - had cleaned up NY, so what was this nonsense about America "getting there". New York is safer than it's been in many decades - no thanks to Feiffer's Leftist ways of dealing with crime (a slap on the hand for every hard criminal). Feiffer even comments that Gould and the misfit son (and even Gardenia) are victims of this awful, awful American society, hence that their lashing out by killing pedestrians, at the end of the movie, is "self-defence". No kidding, that's what Feiffer called it! That sounds just like the kind of idiotic drivel other leftists say when they try to justify terrorists as "freedom fighters".

Secondly, how can anyone use New York - of all places - to portray the "state of the nation"?? New York is very atypical for most of the rest of the country, hence the film's message was doomed from the moment Feiffer decided to place the setting in NY. Perhaps Feiffer wasn't lying about having been born and having spent all his life in NY. And I mean, ALL HIS LIFE. Perhaps he never visited other parts of the States, hence so very naively thought NY was how it was in all of the 50 states.

The moral of the story rings hollow. This seems to be yet another in a long line of scripts written by dissatisfied, neurotic liberals who could never get over the fact that America chose Capitalism over Socialism. Such people/writers have nitpicked through EVERY pore of American society, looking for the tiniest (and less tiny, more obvious) faults, while raising their hypocritical hands and shouting "see?? see?! I told you it was no good!". However, Capitalist America is still thriving so I have no idea what Feiffer is talking about. Sure, every society has its ills, but if someone is seeking for a perfect society then he'd be best served by taking heavy drugs and day-dreaming about Utopia, a non-existent place.

Overall, a message (or messages) that holds no water in the real world, in a mostly unfunny comedy. Nevertheless, the movie is quite watchable. It is unpredictable and fairly interesting (aside from the first third).

This movie is based on a play that flopped on Broadway. But LM is critical of U.S. society so obviously it was irresistible for Hollywood's producers and other "intelligentsia"...
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bsteve25 September 2003
Wish Little Murders would be released in DVD! Strange that it has gone so unnoticed. With today's random violence and terrorism, the movie is as appropriate and unnerving as it was back in 1971 when I viewed it many times as a college student in an almost empty cinema. Sutherland's performance is superb.
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What was outrageous behavior in 1971 is now the 11:00 news...
moonspinner5520 February 2008
Alan Arkin directed this black comedy from Jules Feiffer (adapted from his play) about the violence--and apathy or pacifism towards violence--in society, with Elliott Gould as the zombie-fied hero at the center of the chaos. Even though this is dark-hued material, Feiffer and Arkin mean it to be deadpan amusing, yet the heights they hope to scale haven't weathered the years well. What was circus-like and crazily absurd in 1971 doesn't look so far-fetched anymore, which gives the proceedings a creepy undermining today. Several good moments, fine cinematography from Gordon Willis compensate, also a terrific performance from Vincent Gardenia as Gould's emotionally unhinged father-in-law. However, the film is now a dated product of its time, not the crackpot cartoon-strip intended. Arkin has a cameo, as does Gould's "MASH" co-star Donald Sutherland in an over-extended bit as a hippie priest. ** from ****
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Stinging Satire = Comedy of the absurd
mrcaw129 September 2004
Interesting 70s period piece starring Elliot Gould as a disaffected nihilist being brought out of his shell by 70s actress Marcia Rodd (the original Carol, TV's Maude's daughter before Adrienne Barbeau replaced her in the series) while around him New York City becomes more and more out of control. Lots of great performances by supporting players Vincent Gardenia, Elizabeth Wilson (Dustin Hoffman's mother in The Graduate), Lou Jacobi, etc. Political and pointed theater of the absurd brought to the film. Certainly not your average film as the film begins at already outrageous levels and proceeds to become unrealistic and absurd to make its point. Good performances, especially that of Marcia Rodd (where have you gone Ms. Rodd? You were so much fun!!) can't save this film that although appearing to be tongue in cheek, actually takes itself far too seriously. Film was actually more enjoyable and made its political/social points better when the film was more based in reality...when the film got did the point and the quality of the experience....
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I get shot at everyday
torrascotia22 August 2018
The tone of this movie is very surreal from start to finish.

The plot concerns a photographer who is numb to the world and so apathetic that when muggers attack him physically his preferred method of dealing with this scenario is to zone out into a daydream. Along comes a woman to his rescue who becomes so incensed at his apathetic nature, she decides that she will use the force of her personality to mould him into the man she wishes him to be.

If this sounds like a run of the mill romcom you are wrong. While there are frequent laugh out loud scenes throughout, and there is romance, this is the blackest of comedies. This has some of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a movie. Period. It was very reminiscent of Catch 22 and that is not just because it co-starts and was directed by Alan Arkin. But that it has a very distinctive blend of intense humour, shocks and nihilism which is a hallmark of 70s cinema.

Also if you enjoy movies with dysfunctional families and messed up psychology then you are in for a treat.

That this movie seems to have flown under the radar and is not more well known is a real shock as it has to be one of the best American movies ever made. The less you know about the story the better. All I will say however is that repeated viewing of this movie will be a very different experience from your first viewing.

Avoid any reviews with spoilers and watch this as soon as you can, its definitely a forgotten classic from the 70s.
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The Minister
gavin694231 March 2017
Comedy about how New Yorkers are 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.

So, this is the sort of film that has a good deal of long, boring parts, but is more than made up for by some of the incredible smart dialogue. Early on, we get a wise discourse about what to say if people are going to beat you up, and what they might assume you to be in return. This speech, by Elliott Gould, is brilliant.

But even more brilliant, and the real highlight of the entire film, is a rambling sermon and wedding ceremony from Donald Sutherland, an "existential" minister. His rambling about "love" and "the deity" is not what you expect fro ma minister and this has to be one of Sutherland's greatest roles.
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