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A Thousand Clowns (1965)


Kid Dabb
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Has anyone seen this? Kind of a quirky film but very well acted. If you can sit through the periods of adolescent behavior on the part of Jason Robards, Jr. - he's in my Top 5 actors list but this takes him out on the edge somewhat.

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"I cry all the time," she sobbed, "and I laugh at the wrong parts of movies."
 
I loved that line, 'cause I'm a lot like that, too. Barbara Harris' meltdown early in the film really stole my heart. Sometimes you feel like a movie is talking specifically to you, and for me this was one of those.

I thought it was a wonderful movie. Murray's struggle to keep the light of life burning even as the chains of law and capitalism close in on him was admirable. The ill-fated fight against becoming a worker bee, which we are all conditioned for, but so few of us are really made for. I don't think that this was a "never grow up" performance, but rather "never give in." Early on his nephew wanted him to meet the world halfway, but ultimately neither of them wanted to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Alas.

Although I understand what took him there, I do feel that the ending of the film was a rather sad one. Not particularly him getting a job, or his girlfriend throwing out his junk, but his decision not to holler at the houses like he usually did. It seemed a little defeated, in a way, the first little crush of the soul. Next he might stop flying kites or playing his ukulele, which truly would be a tragedy.

What does anyone else think of the tone of the ending? Do you think his brother's philosophy sank through? I didn't think his defiance seemed that shaken, but the way he stopped hollering at the houses seemed telling of something. His whimsy didn't get out unscathed.
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He knew what he was going back to. "Just not feeling" was the way I believe he put it. When he can't think of anything more to shout at the end - and begins running for the bus with everyone else - it is a kind of defeat and it's sad for us because we do understand how this artistic soul is giving in to the monotony of conformity.

 

But, it's an act of love. By sacrificing his lifestyle for Nick and Sandra's sakes, we hope - as does he - that it's worth it. He may be losing something that was meaningful to him, but maybe the reward of having done "the right thing" - and a soft, warm woman to have and to hold - will make it all bearable.

 

Too bad Herb Gardner didn't write a sequel looking at how it all turned out - say, 15 years later.

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I saw this at the theatre (still remember the delicious smell of that place, since torn down) when it came out.  A friend's mother took us.  Afterward I said how much I liked it and she replied, "Well, I thought it was stupid."  I was crushed, and afterward kept my reviews to myself.  I was curious to watch it again, and happy to see all these years later that it really WAS good.  

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I saw this at the theatre (still remember the delicious smell of that place, since torn down) when it came out.  A friend's mother took us.  Afterward I said how much I liked it and she replied, "Well, I thought it was stupid."  I was crushed, and afterward kept my reviews to myself.  I was curious to watch it again, and happy to see all these years later that it really WAS good.

 

i first saw it on the late show at age 18 and was immediately taken with robards' character. that sort of love of life mixed with cycnicsm was still novel then.

 

i showed a tape of it to a date years later. i asked her what she thought of it. she said "he wanted to be a bum." i married her anyway.

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