A Thousand Clowns / Loft Staff Selects

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Jason Robards superbly re-creates his Broadway role in this 1965 film version of the popular play, a quirkily comedic ode to nonconformity nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In A Thousand Clowns, Robards plays Murray Burns, head writer of TV’s popular Chuckles the Chipmunk show. Fed up with the rat race, Murray quits his job and retreats to his cluttered Manhattan apartment, where he enjoys a freewheeling, oddball life with his 12-year-old nephew Nick (Barry Gordon). Though they’re as close as father and son, Murray has never gotten around to legally adopting Nick, which brings him to the attention of social workers Sandra (Barbara Harris) and Albert (William Daniels). While Albert is disgusted by Murray’s irreverence, Sandra falls in love with the free-spirited writer. Teaming up with Nick, Sandra tries to convince Murray to get another job. Arnold Burns (Martin Balsam, winner of the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance), Murray’s agent-brother, is amused by his sibling’s independence, but can find no work for him. Desperate not to lose Nick to the authorities, Murray offers to go back to Chuckles the Chipmunk – aka Leo (Gene Saks), a neurotic jerk who bullies his staff and hates kids. Young Nick is disillusioned by Murray’s willingness to conform, but the boy comes around to Murray’s sudden realization that compromise is sometimes necessary if it’s for the sake of someone you love. Warm, funny and filled with great performances, A Thousand Clowns is a delightfully offbeat look at the importance of being true to oneself. (Dir. by Fred Coe, 1965, USA, 118 mins., Not Rated) Digital