Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Second Avenue Claustrophobia

Given my car breakdown, I felt a bit trapped in my house on Second Avenue. So, in a bit of whimsy, I watched a 1975 film, Neil Simon's "The Prisoner Of Second Avenue":
The story of Mel and Edna (Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft), a middle-class, middle-aged, middle-happy couple living in a Manhattan high rise apartment building. Mel loses his job, the apartment is robbed, Edna gets a job, Mel loses his mind, Edna loses her job . . . to say nothing of the more minor tribulations of nosy neighbors, helpful relatives and exact bus fares. The couple suffers indignity after indignity (some self-inflicted) and when they seem on the verge of surrender, they thumb their noses defiantly and dig the trenches for battle.
Funny, strange Neil Simon film, showing the years when New York was basically falling apart under the weight of the crime epidemic. Fun to see Sylvester Stallone just before he became famous: Mel (Jack Lemmon) mistakes the Youth in the Park (Sylvester Stallone) for a pickpocket and proceeds to chase him down and mug him. Interesting also that unemployed Mel starts listening to Talk Radio and starts fashioning a paranoid's explanation for his unemployment difficulties (I had thought that Talk Radio came later, but apparently it's always been there to catch the unwary). But troublesome too, because unemployment does not lead to the best of plot devices.

I'm glad my car is working again....

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