Little Murders (1971)

Little Murders (1971)
7.0
  • 2579
  • PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1971 ()
  • Running time: 108 min
  • Original Title: Little Murders
  • Voted: 2579

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.

#PersonCharacters
1Elliott GouldAlfred Chamberlain
2Marcia RoddPatsy Newquist
3Vincent GardeniaCarol Newquist
4Elizabeth WilsonMarge Newquist
  • Is it to late for this movie to have a cult following? by 10

    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?

  • Seminal New York Black Comedy by 9

    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.

  • Pitch-perfect black comedy by 10

    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."

  • it'll murder you with laughs by 8

    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.

  • Twisted by 8

    "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.

#PersonCrew
1Gordon Williscinematographer
2Fred Kazcomposer
3Alan Arkindirector
4Howard Kupermaneditor
5Jack Brodskyproducer
6Jules Feifferwriter