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August 31, 1984 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-08-31

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Friday, August 31, 1984




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Arkin, Falk in 'Big Trouble'


Big Trouble is a screen
comedy with Alan Arkin
and Peter Falk, teaming up
for the second time. John
Cassavetes, normally a film
director of more serious
note, guides the farce writ-
ten by Andrew Bergman,
with Beverly D'Angelo,
Charles Durning and
Robert Stack in key sup-
porting roles. Arkin, por-
traying a hard-working in-
surance salesman, eager to
send his three sons to Yale,
becomes involved in a
bizarre plot to collect on an
obscure claim.
With Falk as his partner,
the two could be aptly de-
scribed as the quintessen-
tial mismatched pair. As in
the previous hit comedy,
The In-Laws, Arkin and
Falk portray a reluctant
couple whose every act of
inventive fancy results in
greater unity. The crazier
the plot becomes, the closer
they get.
Leonard Hoffman, the
character essayed by Arkin,
encapsulates the pent-up
frustrations of a company
man who suddenly must
face the fact that only he has
missed out on the proverbial
pot of gold, but if he doesn't
do something drastic, his
children will as well. How
he handles the transition
from model insurance
salesman to reluctant crim-
inal transpires with his
comic aplomb.
Since his acting career
began with Chicago's Sec-
ond City improvisational
revue, Brooklyn-born Arkin
has emphasized laughter on
stage and screen. His
Broadway debut in Carl
Reiner's Enter Laughing
won him a Tony Award and
led to such pictures as Catch
221, Hearts of the West,
Popi, The Last of the Red
Hot Lovers, Luv, Freebie
and the bean, and The Rus-
sians Are Coming, The Rus-
sians Are Coming, the latter
netting him his first Oscar
nomination for his por-
trayal of a simple-minded
Soviet sailor.
His second Academy
nomination was awared for
his dramatic performance
in The Heart Is a Lonely
Hunter. As a stage director,
he excelled with the Broad-
way ptoduction of Neil Si-
mon's The Sunshine Boys.
He won the Obie and Outer
Circle Critic Award for the
off-Broadway production of
Little Murders, which put
Dustin Hoffman on the
map. On television, Arkin
rendered a haunting per-
formance in the title role of
The Defection of Simas
Peter Falk, as a con man
in Big Trouble, adds an-
other notch to his list of
peculiar screen ' per-
sonalities who would per-
haps be less strange if there
were no such things as laws
and 'rules in our society. In

this picture, as he did in The
In-Laws, Falk embroils an

unwitting and innocent
character portrayed by
Arkin in a hair-brained
scheme to rob the rich in
order to benefit the poor —
in this case themselves.
Eccentric and outrageous
are labels that are attached
to the performer who has
created such distinct char-
acters as television's sleuth,
Columbo, a study in con-
tradictions. Even before be-
coming an actor, he was
noted for a deceptive casu-
alness, as management ex-
pert for the state of Connec-
ticut and earlier still when
studying for his B.A. degree
in political science from
New York's School for So-
cial Research and making
his way to a master's degree
from Syracuse University.
When he decided to take up
acting, he found himself
first portraying a bartender
in the off-Broadway produc-
tion of Eugene O'Neill's The
Iceman Cometh.
He has starred on Broad-
way in Neil Simon's The
Prisoner of Second Avenue
and made such low-
budgeted but powerful films
with John Cassavetes as
Husbands and A Woman
Under the Influence. After

portraying a private eye in

Murder by Death and The
Cheap Dectective, Falk

turned to the other side of
the law in The Brinks Job,
depicting a blundering
Andrew Bergman, the
writer of Big Trouble and
previously of The In-Laws,
both original stories he de-
veloped with Arkin and
Falk in mind, is the son of
long-time New York Daily
News radio and television
columnist Rudy Bergman.
After graduating magna
cum laude from the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin, Andrew
took a cockeyed aim at the
doctoral subject, Arherican
history, when writing Blaz-
ing Saddles, which became
a Mel Brooks picture.

In addition to screenplays
and directing So Fine a sc-
reen comedy set in the New
York garment district,
Bergman has written two
novels, Hollywood and
LeVine and The Big Kiss-
Off of 1944. He also
authored a scholarly work
about American films dur-
ing the depression period,
We're in the Money, which is
used as a textbook in film

Copyright 1984, JTA, Inc.

Conservatives hope to allay
tensions on w inter holiday

New York (JTA) — Con-
cerned by the possibility of
"heightened tension" be-
tween Jews and Christians
in the coming Christmas
holiday season, stemming
from the Supreme Court de-
cision upholding the right of
officials of Pawtucket, R.I.
to create creche displays on
public property, the Rabbin-
ical Assembly, the associa-
tion of Conservative rabbis,
has asked its 1,200 mem-
bers to explain to Christians
and municipal officials the
Jewish objection to such
displays on public property
during the Yule period. ,
Rabbi Alexander Shapiro
of South Orange, N.J., RA
president, predicted possi-
ble "communal disputes" in
many American cities, add-
irfg that "this coming holi-
day season could be turned
into one of anger and ten-
sion rather than one of hap-
piness and celebration.”
Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, RA
executive vice president,
said the request to the Con-
servative rabbis was the
first in the RA's history,
stressing that it involved
the strategy of rabbis ap-
proaching -local Christians
and municipal officials on
an individual basis and that
the appeal was not one from
the RA itself.
The request to the RA
members was contained in a
communication from the

RA Social Action Commit-
tee, headed by Rabbi Myron
Fenster of Rosyln, N.Y.
Fenster said he believed
that by holding advance
discussions and providing
the views of the synagogue
and Jewish organizations
well ahead of time, "we will
help to fotestall exacerbat-
ing misundrstandings."
He suggested that
churches and synagogues be
encouraged to erect holiday
displays on church and
synagogue property.

Israel, Soviet
tennis match
date disputed

Jerusalem (JTA) — Edu-
cation Minister Zevulun
Hammer has asked the Is-
rael Tennis Association to
postpone the tennis match
between Israel and the
Soviet Union because the
match is scheduled for Sept.
day of Rosh
The match is to take place
in Switzerland, as part of
the regional finals of the
Davis Cup tournament.
Hammer said it was un-
heard of that Israeli tennis
players would play on the
The Israel Tennis. Aeso-
ciation has already re-
quested postponement.

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