Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center’s Present Tense series is heading to Southampton Arts Center for a screening of Little Murders on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. The audience is in for quite a treat as Pulitzer Prize winner screenwriter/cartoonist Jules Feiffer, who penned the screenplay, will lead a post film discussion, moderated by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, head of the Sag Harbor Cinema programming committee.
Feiffer wrote Little Murders, his first creation, in 1967. It was initially staged in an off-Broadway theater, though critics were mesmerized by the clever absurdity. Roughly twenty years later, Frank Rich of The New York Times called Feiffer’s debut “the darkest and perhaps the funniest comedy ever written about what it was like to be alive and half-crazed in the urban American jungle of the 1960’s.”
Feiffer suggested Little Murders as a part of the Present Tense series. “Little Murders is a JFK post-assassination satiric play, then film, that predicted the breakdown of traditional American institutional safeguards and the random violence and societal insanity that follows. Why anyone thinks this has any relevance to present-day events, go figure,” remarked Feiffer.
Little Murders is set in New York City where there’s daily power outages, escalating violence, racial conflicts, and abusive cops. Fashion photographer Alfred Chamberlain’s life is altered when he meets the dysfunctional family of his newest girlfriend – an interior designer who saved him from a mob of local bullies.
Elliot Gould, the first actor to play Chamberlain on stage, bought the rights for the screen and tried to convince Jean-Luc Godard to make the project his first incursion in Hollywood. The French director, screenwriter and film critic rejected the offer, but the smart solution was to keep the project in the hands of those closest to the play. Feiffer wrote the adaptation and actor Alan Arkin, who directed the first Broadway revival in 1969, was invited to make his feature film directorial debut. Little Murders also stars Marcia Rodd, Elizabeth Wilson, Doris Robert, Donald Sutherland, Lou Jacobi, and a scene-stealer Vincent Gardenia.
Feiffer has been widely recognized for his success in the arts. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for his editorial cartooning in The Village Voice. After penning his first screenplay in 1967, that same year Mike Nichols produced Feiffer’s second screenplay called Carnal Knowledge. Since then, Feiffer has created several other films, including Popeye (Robert Altman) and I Want To Go Home (Alain Resnais). Today, at 90-years-old, he limits his screenplays to graphic novels. He recently finished his noir trilogy, Kill My Mother and he is currently at work on The Lost Dimension, a graphic novel series for children. You can find Feiffer’s political cartoons online in Tablet.
Feiffer resides in Shelter Island with his wife Joan Holden, who is also a writer, and their three cats.
Tickets are $15 or $12 for SAC members.
Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information and reservations, visit www.sagharborcinema.org.