Little Murders

LITTLE MURDERS. 1971

Director: Alan Arkin

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Based on a play by cartoonist Jules Fieffer, & adapted to the screen by Fieffer himself, Little Murders is like an extended Fieffer comic strip.

It takes place in the near future (or, at least, an alternative-world version of the 1960/70s) where good folks of Manhattan try to live regular lives as chaos overtakes the city. It's a world in which you can take the subway covered in blood & no one seems to notice. It's simultaneously absurdist & unfortunately familiar.

The city-wide & perhaps national past-time has become sniping with rifles from apartment windows. Anyone can become a sniper at any time, & there seems to be very little chance of getting arrested for it, though one might get a few return shots for playing.

Our quiet family holed up in their apartment have already lost one son to this latest fad, & their lives are increasingly difficult to keep on course, their "normal" Ossie & Harriet obsessions decreasingly valid in world of heightened paranoia.

One of the most biting satires of the 1970s, it had many theater revivals in Seattle as the hip hit of the entire decade. It is by now a little dated, but still holds up as a dark little piece of science fiction social allegory with an ability to provoke.

Elliot Gould as the dufus boyfriend probably never had a better role even under Robert Altman's direction. Donald Sutherland in a veritable cameo is hilarious as the hippy preacher at the demented wedding.

The minimalist staginess of the primary set & the affected stylishness of the acting will be offputting to some viewers, but anyone who likes genuine strangeness will find this to be an extremely winning & even intellectual poker-faced comedy of the blackest sort.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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