***SPOILERS*** There's trouble brewing in the working class lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood with the beatniks spilling into to it after being evicted at to point of guns & bayonets from Greenwich Village's Washington Square Park where they made their home. With tensions in the neighborhood about to explode it's up to champion of the working class social worker Neil Brock, George C. Scott, to keep the lid on and and prevent things from getting out of hand. Not so with local political hack and member of the club Frank D'Angelo, Robert Middleton, who want's to keep the beatniks out even if he has to recruit neighborhood goons to do it for him. It's up to beatnik community organizer Ted Miller,Alan Arkin,to get himself elected by forcing D'Angelo and the bosses behind him out before they have the entire beatnik population thrown back out on the street and arrested by the paid off, by D'Angelo, police for vagrancy!
With Brock taking time off to be Miller's campaign manager he gets the beatniks who don't want anything to do with politics, they just like to sip expresso and recite poetry, become a major force in the upcoming election that has D'Angelo and the political king makers behind him very nervous. So nervous that they plan to destroy Miller's campaign by hook or by crook before it even begins. Which makes for a final showdown at the end of the episode that, with all the build up, never really goes anywhere and just turns into a big free drinks and pot smoking party for everyone involved. But at least it shows that getting involved in local politics, like Miller and his beatniks, is better then staying on the sidelines and doing nothing at all.
Alan Arkin an almost unknown at the time of this "East Side West Side" episode was so impressive as the reluctant beatnik turned politician that in just three years without any additional TV or movie parts, and only working odds jobs to support himself, after that landed the plumb role of a Soviet submarine Let. Razanov in the top grossing 1966 hit film "The Russian are Coming The Russians are Coming". That made him a overnight Hollywood star in movies in movies that were to follow like the leaping back from the dead and homicidal maniac in "Wait until Dark" and anti-establishment USAAF pilot in "Catch 22" as well as part-time comedian for the next almost 50 years and counting!
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