A Thousand Clowns. "It's about this guy Murray, O.K. He runs this kiddie T.V. show. His 13-year-old nephew has all these different names. A social worker comes over and they mindfuck with the social worker. Once the old man--who says he and the kid's mother (who is Murray's sister) communicate mostly by rumor--yells up at an apartment, 'Hey there rich people. Come out at ten o'clock and play volleyball.' It's all a woof against capitalism." All this was said to us by a friend from the south side of our town, who calls A Thousand Clowns "absolutely the greatest movie I've ever seen." Sometimes he tries to pretend he doesn't know anything about art, but we know better and respect his opinions.
Lawrence of Arabia and Harold Wilson and one of us went to Jesus College, Oxford. Lawrence, in the end, turned out to be a masochist and changed his name from T.E. Lawrence to T.E. Shaw. Wilson's comeback as Prime Minister again. Maybe soon he'll be Harold Chekhov. We're going to be the Brothers Karamazov. This movie is particularly relevant today, showing as it does the problems of a state-owned railroad system facing constant interruption of service. Wilson might learn a lesson here.
In a Lonely Place. The attraction at this show is really Lady from Shanghai, one of Orson Welles's best movies. But it's well known, and this is our week of obscurity. The lonely place is Hollywood, and Bogart is a screenwriter who's hit the skids. Forced to write a screenplay of a trashy novel he hasn't read--sort of like the way our Stage encapsulist sometimes operates, we guess--Bogart snares a hat-check girl who explains the book to him and then gets strangled. For diehard fans of Bogart, or of Police Gazette.
It Happened One Night. We particularly like the bus ride scene where all the people start singing. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert both won Oscars and the movie was best picture, too. No other movie has ever won all three top Oscars. That says a lot about Oscars, though the film is pretty funny.
Bicycle Thief. This week's theme seems to be transportation. To us, Bicycle Thief is one of the most moving of all post-war pictures, particularly when the small boy Bruno learns that pizza is a working-class food.
Streetcar Named Desire. Mass transit at last. In the primary election in Illinois last week, a mass-transit proposal rode to victory while former U.S. Attorney Dakin Williams failed in his second bid for a Senate seat. He once said of an opponent, Roman C. Pucinski: "Poochie? The only thing he could be is Stanley Kowalski in the greatest American play ever written--A Streetcar Named Desire by my brother, Tennessee Williams, the greatest playwright who ever lived."
What we don't understand is why director Elia Kazan changed the ending of the play when he made the movie. The play ends in near perfection, after an ambivalent reconciliation between Stella and Stanley and another new deal: "This game is seven-card stud." Kazan's Hollywoodized ending affects a high-handed moral tone that doesn't exist anywhere in the play. Frankly we blanched.