Mickey is a second-rate New York nightclub comedian and piano playing singer working out of Detroit, where he’s a surprising smash. The comedian becomes extremely jittery over the accumulation of large gambling debts and trouble over dames, and becomes convinced the mob is after him though there’s no reason to think so. He flees to Chicago by freight train and finds a social security card on skid row with the name Miklos Wunejeva, which he uses to get work in a restaurant kitchen cleaning pots and pans. Known now as a Polish guy with the nickname of Mickey One, he seeks out a showbiz agent, George Berson, who is impressed with his talent and books him at the posh Club Xanadu that’s co-owned by the narcissistic talent scout Ed Castle.
Mickey meets the attractive Jenny when his landlady tries to evict him and move her into his flat. They end up living together. The paranoid Mickey is fearful of everything, and is suspicious that Castle may be in contact with the mobsters who might be after him. The film gets bogged in how Mickey manages to get along with Jenny, Castle and his fears, and in the filmmaker’s own arty agenda. —Ozu’s World Film Reviews
Once the vanguard of 1960s-1970s Hollywood New Wave, director Arthur Penn saw his cinematic fortunes decline with the mid-‘70s rise of more straightforward blockbuster entertainment. Even as he struggled through the ’80s and ’90s, however, Penn’s legacy was assured by such films as Little Big Man (1970), Night Moves (1975), and the pivotal masterwork Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
Born in Philadelphia, Penn was trained to follow in his father’s footsteps as a watchmaker, but by high school, he knew he preferred theater. While stationed at Fort Jackson, SC, during World War II, Penn formed a small drama circle with his fellow infantrymen, and continued his education as an actor at school in North Carolina and Italy after the war. Though Penn acted in Joshua Logan’s theater company and studied with Michael Chekhov at the Actors Studio’s Los Angeles branch, he opted for a career behind the scenes when he got a job at NBC TV in 1951. By 1953, Penn was writing and… read more
Fascinating time capsule that along with 'A Thousand Clowns' really captures that mid sixties confusion about identity in the post 50's cookie cutter ideal and the coming storm of near revolution Not really a plot based film and definately has the aesthitic of the french new wave. Beatty and Stewart both great here but its the direction of Penn, excellent b&w cinematography and a jazzy score that make it special.
A propulsive survey of scores focusing on the thriller: procedurals, bank heists, neo-noirs, spy films, giallos, and sci-fi mind-games.