8/10
Very nice little slice of 1950's life
5 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
New York City, 1953. Eager and ambitious aspiring actor Larry Lapinsky (a fine and likable performance by Lenny Baker) moves out of his parents' Brooklyn apartment and goes to Greenwich Village in search of fame and success while coming to terms with his overbearing mother Faye (a suitably hysterical, but still moving portrayal by Shelley Winters).

Writer/director Paul Mazursky relates the engrossing story at a steady pace, offers an engaging blend of sharp humor and poignant drama, and presents a flavorsome evocation of 1950's New York that astutely captures both the sexually permissive mores and the vibrant artistic bohemian nature of Greenwich Village at that particular point in time. Moreover, Mazursky brings a winning surplus of real heart and warmth to the semi-autobiographical plot as well as populates the picture with vividly drawn characters who are quite affecting and believable in all their flaws and quirks. The fine acting from a tip-top cast keeps this film humming: Ellen Greene as Larry's liberated, yet apprehensive girlfriend Sarah Roth, Lois Smith as suicidal depressive Anita Cunningham, Christopher Walken as suave womanizing dandy Robert Fulmer, Dori Brenner as the sarcastic Connie, Antonio Fargas as flamboyant homosexual Bernstein Chandler, Mike Kellin as Larry's meek father Ben, and Lou Jacobi as hearty deli owner Herb. Popping up in funny bits are Joe Spinell as a surly cop and Jeff Goldblum as pretentious wannabe thespian Clyde Baxter. Arthur J. Ornitz's crisp cinematography provides a pleasant bright look. Bill Conti's jaunty'n'jazzy score does the tuneful trick. A sweet little sleeper.
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