A Thousand Clowns, which was originally released in 1965, strikes me as a classic 1960s film. Why do I say that, given that it was released only half-way through the decade, and given that so much more happened in the next five years? Because it is a drama about nerds versus free spirits. (That particular phrasing comes from financial guru Dave Ramsey, but I don’t know its full provenance.)
Jason Robards plays Murray, a non-conformist former TV writer living in New York who has taken in his 12-year-old nephew, whose name for the moment (yes, that’s right) is Nick. Murray doesn’t want to get a job, but the “system” intervenes in the form of two child social workers who are concerned about Nick. William Daniels and Barbara Harris play them, and soon enough the drama is complicated further when we discover that one of the two is a closet “free spirit” as well.
So with that as the set-up, the viewer enjoys a lot of laughs on the way to the resolution of this comedy-drama. On the downside, this movie shows its origin in the theater by the fact that a good part of it takes place in Murray’s apartment—with some breaks given by wonderful street-level New York footage. On the plus side, we get to enjoy a number of great actors, including Robards and Daniels (who later appeared in The Graduate as Dustin Hoffman’s father.) Now, whether or not you’ll enjoy the conflict or find it simplistic (in a 1960s movie kind of way), is another matter. If you choose to watch it, feel free to leave an opinion! (Due to its age, this movie does not have a rating; it has one scene that might be inappropriate for younger viewers.)
Posted by: David