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Feature Friday: “Little Murders” (1971)

Little Murders is one of the greatest films of the 1970s—nay, of all time!—and anyone who doesn’t watch it is a scoundrel.

“What’s it about?” you ask. Warily.

Well, it’s about how horrible life is. Yes. And how everyday survival is akin to constantly committing murder.

As you can surmise from that description, it’s arguably the blackest comedy you’ll ever see. It’s based on a play by Jules Feiffer, who also wrote Carnal Knowledge and illustrated The Phantom Tollbooth (among other things). It stars Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, Alan Arkin, and several stage actors whose names you probably won’t recognize, but who are all terrific. (If you don’t watch the movie, at least watch Sutherland’s cameo.)

Supposedly Gould asked Jean-Luc Godard to direct it; in the end, Arkin helmed it, with cinematography by the great Gordon Willis. (It’s gorgeous.)

Dave Sim, the genius behind the long-running  comic Cerebus, based the character of the Judge on the late Lou Jacobi’s character in this film.

Here’s Roger Ebert’s four-star review.

And here’s the film!

Now you can impress all of your friends!

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

5 thoughts on “Feature Friday: “Little Murders” (1971)

  1. Thanks for this post, and for the ongoing series of Feature Friday posts!

    I first heard about Little Murders from a little video essay that Larry Karaszewski gives over the trailer from the picture, found here: http://www.trailersfromhell.com/trailers/352 His take on it is a fabulous recommendation for someone like me who has never seen the movie, and so that makes your post much watch.


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