Attention movie studios I have an announcement to make, as schlockbuster video stores jam the shelves with hundreds of the latest Hollywood product, some of the best movies ever made are fading away. At the top of my waiting for DVD list is the 1965 black and white classic "A Thousand Clowns".
I would love to see the full DVD treatment for this film. Clean up the soundtrack, restore the original aspect ratio, and celebrate one of the great cinematic nonconformist characters around. "A Thousand Clowns" stars the late Jason Robards as Murray Burns the underemployed icon that refuses to get swept up in the daily grind of the working world.
Robards, like child actor Barry Gordon reprise their roles from the original stage production written by Herb Gardner. This movie was nominated for four academy awards, including Best Picture in 1965 and Martin Balsom won as best supporting actor for his role as Murray's straight-laced Brother Arnie. The film features some familiar faces like William Daniels as Albert, the weaselly social worker who seeks to remove Murray's nephew from his custody, and introduces Barbara Harris as Sandy a social psychologist who falls for Murray's fast talking charm as quickly as she realizes that she's not going to get him to change his ways.
Anyone who faces college graduation or unemployment needs to watch this film. But be forewarned, this is a dangerous movie that embraces an anti-establishment philosophy smoothly sold by Robards' delivery of the smartly written dialog. This movies inspires dramatic reactions from people, who either support the working man machine and regard the self-indulgences of Murray's character as an arrogant clown to people who this movie re-affirms the struggle that all non-conformists face of being true to themselves and yet working along with the machine enough to survive.
Regardless of your philosophy, this movie's energy is infectious, and presents a picture postcard view of Manhattan in the 1960's that deserves to be seen and preserved. Unfortunately, as its years out of print, the only way you are likely to see "A Thousand Clowns" today is if your hip film school professor shows it to you in class, or a sweet girl tracks down a copy on eBay for you.
So c'mon you studio executives, before you give us another extras filled DVD of the newest releases, look into your libraries and dig up some timeless gems like "A Thousand Clowns" and share them with the rest of us. Let's snap to it!
For movie magazine, this is Purple.
© 2003 - Purple - Air Date: 12/11/02
A Thousand Clowns
USA - 1965