It flopped as a play in 1967 (with Elliott Gould, Barbara Cook, David Steinberg, Heywood Hale Broun, and Ruth White), then went to London where it was chosen as the first American play by the Royal Shakespeare Company and received the award as Best Foreign Play. Two years later, Arkin
directed it successfully at New York's Circle In The Square with a cast that included Linda Lavin, Fred Willard, Vincent Gardenia, Jon Korkes and Elizabeth Wilson. At the time of the first production, it was looked upon as being surrealistic. Unfortunately, life has imitated art and, today, it is
painfully accurate in many ways. This was Arkin's first, and perhaps his best, attempt at directing. In bringing this black comedy to the screen, he added some marvelous touches that were not evident in the stage version.
It's early in the morning in a New York apartment. Rodd (in her first film) hears the unmistakable sounds of a man being mugged outside her bedroom. She can't get through to the police, so she attempts to save the man and is mugged herself. Meanwhile, the victim, Gould, walks away unconcerned. She
fights the hoods, then races after Gould, who he walks into his photography studio. He calmly explains that he lives by the moral code of apathy. He had once been a successful commercial photographer but now prefers to spend his time making films of excrement (a satire of Andy Warhol). Despite his
weirdness, Rodd thinks that Gould might make a good husband. She takes him home to meet the family, but her father, Gardenia, thinks he's just another one of Rodd's gay friends. Wilson, in a role not unlike the dotty mother in YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, doesn't much care about what Gould does or
his sexual proclivities, as long as he's a nice person and can become part of the family. Korkes is a closet gay and pays no attention to Gould. Rodd and Gould take a Catskills vacation together, and her happiness overcomes Gould's ennui. He agrees to marry her, as long as it's a civil ceremony.
The judge turns out to be hippie Sutherland, so the wedding is a mad melange of his philosophy. Rodd convinces Gould to see his parents from whom he has been estranged, and Randolph and Roberts welcome him. Gould's happiness is shattered when Rodd is killed by a sniper. He tries to get Arkin, the
police detective, to help, but it's no use: there are more than 300 unmotivated killings in the city, and Arkin is overwhelmed by it all. trembles due to them. Gould visits a local park and begins to take photographs of humans, rather than offal. He comes back to the apartment with a bouquet and a
rifle and asks Gardenia and Korkes to join him at the window where they begin sniping at pedestrians. After all three have successfully killed an innocent victim, they sit down to dinner, and Wilson says she's so happy that her family is happy again.
LITTLE MURDERS was not a success the first time around, because it was offensive to the sensibilities of the early 1970s. Today, it's a chilling example of Feiffer's prophecies. Gould, who also co-produced, was superb, and all of the other actors must take credit for the excellence of the movie as
well. TV versions will edit some of the saltier language but there'll be enough left to confirm that this, in its own way, is a classic film that must not be missed. It was made in New York City with location shots at Kiamesha Lake, a resort area in the "Borscht Belt."
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1971
- Rating: R
- Review: It flopped as a play in 1967 (with Elliott Gould, Barbara Cook, David Steinberg, Heywood Hale Broun, and Ruth White), then went to London where it was chosen as the first American play by the Royal Shakespeare Company and received the award as Best Foreign… (more)