4/4 Roger Ebert
Director Alan Arkin
Initial DVD release June 1, 2004
57% Rotten Tomatoes
Screenplay Jules Feiffer
Country United States
|Release date February 9, 1971|
Writer Jules Feiffer (play), Jules Feiffer (screenplay)
Cast Elliott Gould (Alfred Chamberlain), Marcia Rodd (Patsy Newquist), Vincent Gardenia (Mr. Newquist), Elizabeth Wilson (Mrs. Newquist), Jon Korkes (Kenny Newquist), John Randolph (Mr. Chamberlain)
Similar movies Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Birdman, Brooklyn, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Salt, Now You See Me
Tagline Funny in a new and frightening way!
Little Murders is a 1971 black comedy film starring Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd, directed by Alan Arkin in his feature directorial debut. It is the story of a girl, Patsy (Rodd), who brings home her boyfriend, Alfred (Gould), to meet her severely dysfunctional family amidst a series of random shootings, garbage strikes and electrical outages ravaging their New York City neighborhood.
The film originated as a play written by cartoonist Jules Feiffer which was staged on Broadway in 1967 but which lasted only seven performances. This failure was followed by a successful London production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Christopher Morahan at the Aldwych Theatre.
It was then revived Off-Broadway in 1969 by Circle in the Square in New York City, directed by Arkin with a cast that included Linda Lavin, Vincent Gardenia, and Fred Willard. That production ran for 400 performances, and won Feiffer an Obie Award. Lavin won the 1969 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Performance.
Gould bought the film rights and co-produced the movie with Jack Brodsky, who received the producer credit. When Feiffer adapted the play for film he added new scenes, including new characters such as the parents of the character of Alfred Chamberlain (played by John Randolph and Doris Roberts).
The film opened to a lukewarm review by Roger Greenspan, and a more positive one by Vincent Canby in the New York Times. Roger Ebert's review in the Chicago Sun Times was more enthusiastic, saying, "One of the reasons it works, and is indeed a definitive reflection of America's darker moods, is that it breaks audiences down into isolated individuals, vulnerable and uncertain."
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Patsy Newquist is a 27-year-old interior designer who lives in a New York City rife with street crime, noise, obscene phone calls, power blackouts and unsolved homicides. When she sees a defenseless man being attacked by street thugs, she intervenes, but is surprised when the passive victim doesn't even bother to thank her. She ends up attracted to the man, Alfred Chamberlain, a photographer, but finds that he is emotionally vacant, barely able to feel pain or pleasure. He permits muggers to beat him up until they get tired and go away.
Patsy is accustomed to molding men into doing her bidding. Alfred is different. When she brings him home to meet her parents and brother, he is almost non-verbal, except to tell her that he doesn't care for families. He learns that Patsy had another brother who was murdered for no known reason. Patsy's eccentric family is surprised when she announces their intention to wed, then amazed when their marriage ceremony conducted by the existential Rev. Dupas turns into a free-for-all.
Determined to discover why her new husband is the way he is, Patsy coaxes Alfred into traveling to Chicago to visit his parents. He hasn't seen them since he was 17, but asks them to help with a questionnaire about his childhood at Patsy's request.
Alfred ultimately agrees to try to become Patsy's kind of man, the kind willing to "fight back". The instant that happens, a sniper's bullet kills Patsy, again for no apparent reason. A blood-splattered Alfred goes to her parents' apartment, New Yorkers barely noticing his state. He descends into a silent stupor, Patsy's father even having to feed him.
A ranting, disturbed police detective, Lt. Practice, drops by, almost unable to function due to the number of unsolved murders in the city. After he leaves, Alfred goes for a walk in the park. He returns with a rifle, which he doesn't know how to load. Patsy's father shows him how. Then the two of them, along with Patsy's brother, take turns shooting people down on the street.
In popular culture
ReferencesLittle Murders Wikipedia
Little Murders IMDbLittle Murders Roger EbertLittle Murders Rotten TomatoesLittle Murders themoviedb.org