AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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A Thousand Clowns
Director: Fred Coe (Dir)
Release Date:   1965
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 13 Dec 1965
Duration (in mins):   118
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Cast:   Jason Robards Jr. (Murray Burns)  
    Barbara Harris (Sandra)  
    Martin Balsam (Arnold Burns)  
    Barry Gordon (Nick)  
    Gene Saks (Leo)  
    William Daniels (Albert)  

Summary: Freespirited Murray Burns, unemployed for 5 months since quitting his job as a writer for the Chuckles the Chipmunk television show, must find a means of support for his precocious 12-year-old nephew, Nick. Nick, an illegitimate son of Murray's sister, has lived with Murray for 7 years but has never been legally adopted. One day Sandra and Albert, social workers from the New York City Child Welfare Board, visit Murray and threaten to take Nick away unless steps are taken to assure a proper home life for the boy. Albert adheres strictly to the rules, but Sandra becomes emotionally involved in the case. After informing Sandra that she is off the case, Albert leaves in a huff; but Sandra stays and spends the night with Murray. They fall in love, and at the insistence of both Sandra and Nick, Murray goes to his brother Arnold, an agent, to find a job. After some unsuccessful interviews, Murray confronts his former employer, Leo, who plays Chuckles the Chipmunk on the show. Despite Leo's dislike for Nick and his patronizing attitude toward Murray, he still offers Murray the job. Nick is offended by Leo and tries to talk Murray out of compromising his principles. Sandra, however, moves into the apartment and begins to refurbish her new home. Nick finally accepts the fact that Murray will again have to work for Leo, and the next morning Murray joins the crowd of people rushing off to their jobs. 

Production Company: Harrell, Inc.  
Distribution Company: United Artists  
Director: Fred Coe (Dir)
  Dan Eriksen (Asst dir)
  Tony Belletier (2d asst dir)
Producer: Fred Coe (Prod)
  Ralph Rosenblum (Assoc prod)
  Herb Gardner (Assoc prod)
Writer: Herb Gardner (Scr)
Photography: Arthur J. Ornitz (Dir of photog)
  Joseph Coffey (Addl photog)
  Al Taffet (Cam op)
  Willie Meyerhoff (Lighting)
Film Editor: Ralph Rosenblum (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Burr Smidt (Set dec)
  Herbert Mulligan (Set dec)
  George De Titta (Set dec)
  William Lucek (Scenic artist)
Costumes: Ruth Morley (Cost des)
  Flo Transfield (Ward)
Music: Don Walker (Mus)
Sound: Jim Shields (Sd mix)
  Richard Vorisek (Sd)
Make Up: Irving Buchman (Makeup)
  Charles Fialla (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: Henry Spitz (Prod mgr)
  Betty Todd (Scr supv)
  Mel Howard (Prod asst)
  Belle Iacobellis (Prod secy)
  Willie Meyerhoff (Grip)
Country: United States

Songs: "A Thousand Clowns," music and lyrics by Judy Holliday and Gerry Mulligan, sung by Rita Gardner; "Yes Sir That's My Baby," music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Gus Kahn.
Composer: Walter Donaldson
  Judy Holliday
  Gus Kahn
  Gerry Mulligan
Source Text: Based on the play A Thousand Clowns by Herb Gardner (New York, 5 Apr 1962).
Authors: Herb Gardner

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Harrell, Inc. 13/12/1965 dd/mm/yyyy LP32309

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Comedy-drama
Subjects (Major): Brothers
  Child welfare
  Employer-employee relations
  New York City
  Social workers
  Television scriptwriters
  Theatrical agents

Note: Filmed in New York City. 

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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