Friday, April 17, 2015

LITTLE MURDERS (1971) - Alan Arkin

"What kind of cheese is that? Sharp cheddar? You should know
better with my stomach I can't take sharp cheddar!"

Arkin as dyspeptic police captain Lieutenant Practice. He also does double duty as director. Little Murders is a great big Velveeta slice of satirical '70s NYC life. Garbage strikes, random muggings, a rash of sniper shootings, heavy breather phone callers, atheist preachers, Elliott Gould! As a Brooklynite watching 40-plus years later, what's not to appreciate?

No big surprise this one was directed by actor. It's based on a stageplay, boasts many extended monologues. The best ones go to Lou Jacobi as a God-loving judge, Donald Sutherland as a very practical ordained minister and Gould, of course, as a shell-shocked photographer/spouse-to-be. Arkin doesn't show up until the last 15 minutes as a half-crazed police inspector in the midst of a citywide homicide crisis. He's amusing but serves better in the director chair. Obviously, he picked up a few tricks of the directing trade from Nichols in Catch-22

My favorite was the scene on the subway where a bloody-faced Gould robotically walks the length of car and takes a seat, none of the other city-hardened passengers batting an eyelash. This was the '70s. Strap-hangers had bigger fish to fry than the scourge of man-spreading.

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