6.7/10
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48 user 23 critic

The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975)

PG | | Comedy | 5 May 1975 (Sweden)
A suddenly-unemployed executive suffers a nervous breakdown.

Director:

Melvin Frank

Writers:

Neil Simon (play), Neil Simon (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Lemmon ... Mel Edison
Anne Bancroft ... Edna Edison
Gene Saks ... Harry Edison
Elizabeth Wilson ... Pauline
Florence Stanley ... Pearl
Maxine Stuart ... Belle
Ed Peck ... Man Upstairs
Gene Blakely Gene Blakely ... Charlie
Ivor Francis ... Psychiatrist
Stack Pierce Stack Pierce ... Detective
Patricia Marshall Patricia Marshall ... Woman Upstairs
Dee Carroll Dee Carroll ... Helen
Ketty Lester Ketty Lester ... Unemployment Clerk
M. Emmet Walsh ... Joe - Doorman
F. Murray Abraham ... Taxi Driver
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Storyline

The story of Mel and Edna (Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft), a middle-class, middle-aged, middle-happy couple living in a Manhattan high rise apartment building. Mel loses his job, the apartment is robbed, Edna gets a job, Mel loses his mind, Edna loses her job . . . to say nothing of the more minor tribulations of nosy neighbors, helpful relatives, and exact bus fares. The couple suffers indignity after indignity (some self-inflicted), and when they seem on the verge of surrender, they thumb their noses defiantly and dig the trenches for battle. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...and you think you've got problems.

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 May 1975 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Nervenbündel See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released about four years after its source play of the same name by Neil Simon was first performed in 1971. The original Broadway production of "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theater on 11th November 1971 and ran for 798 performances until 29th September 1973. The play was nominated for three Tony Awards in 1972, Best Play, Best Supporting or Features Actor in a Drama - Vincent Gardenia and Best Direction - Mike Nichols, it winning the latter two categories. Actress Florence Stanley reprises her role as Pearl in the movie. The play's setting is described in its introduction as "An apartment in a modern building in New York's East 80s. The Present." See more »

Goofs

The apartment building's supposed address, 385 East 88th Street, is actually nearer to First Avenue than to Second. See more »

Quotes

Mel: I haven't had a real piece of bread in thirty years. If I'd known I would have saved some rolls when I was a kid.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Urban Living: Funny and Formidable (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Pertinent Prisoner
6 August 2008 | by jimmylee-1See all my reviews

I've always thought of Neil Simon as being the one playwright consistently able to capture the genuine flavor of New York as a backdrop to the realistic personalities of his characters. Not being a New Yorker - Silicon Valley is about as far away as you can get - I'm afraid I have not been drawn to movies of his plays as strongly as to other comedies.

But Prisoner of Second Avenue is an exception. Maybe it's because I am indeed in Silicon Valley, where layoffs are something we all get to experience. But this movie captured so aptly the craziness of being laid off, staying home all day - seeing only the one you love (but starting to hate him/her too as an extension of your own self-hatred). Making petty grievances huge, and trying to pretend the truly huge issues no longer exist. And worrying about the bills, and the clothes, and how silly the family behaves when money gets involved. And how the bad luck seems to snowball. And how "therapy" sessions seem so futile.

The acting is superb - but I don't know of a movie where Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft have ever given us any less. Bancroft, in particular, when she makes the transition to anger, is perfect. Thankfully we're not handed any sop at the end either.

The subject is so realistic that I don't find it funny at all - but that's a failing of the times we live in, not the movie. A great flick.


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