An ambitious failure that suffers from the inability to make the surrealistic devices work and the diverse elements meld. The result is a film that is as confusing and overblown as the title. Hoffman is an extremely successful but depressed and lonely pop composer. He is approaching middle age and is frightened that it might slow his prodigious output, which, the year before, was staggering and included more than 60 songs as well as various charitable works and a jingle for cancer. He is plagued with the delusion that someone named Harry Kellerman is bad-mouthing him across Manhattan and making crank middle-of-the-night phone calls. Hoffman, who lives in a triplex in the General Motors Building, decides to end it all. He writes a suicide note, tapes it to his awning, and leaps off the ledge. Instead of becoming pizza on the pavement, he lands on the couch of his analyst. He tells Warden all the things that Kellerman has done to him, but Warden offers no help, and Hoffman leaves. In a series of stylized flashbacks, we get some insight into Hoffman as he thinks about his relationship with Baff at age 19 and the fact that he impregnated her, then fled after securing her an abortion. He next recalls his marriage to Gregorio that resulted in an angry divorce and two small sons. Hoffman is desperate for some friendly companionship and calls upon old pal Dell and accountant DeLuise, but neither man offers him any help. He’s hired a private eye to locate Kellerman and now has a lead on him, so he hops into his limo and goes off searching for the man who is making his life a shambles. His current girl friend is Harris, a middle-thirties singer who has about three good notes in her vocal range. Harris met Hoffman while she was auditioning for his new show and found that she couldn’t get her hand off the stage lamp while she was singing. The two fell in with each other and shared many of the same neuroses, and when she enjoyed flying over New York in Hoffman’s private airplane he knew that she was the girl for him. But he is now frightened that Kellerman, who broke up several of his other relationships, will get to Harris and destroy this one. Hoffman’s parents, Burns and Walker, run a small luncheonette, and when Hoffman arrives there one day he is thrilled to learn that they’ve named a triple decker sandwich after him, then he is distraught to find out that Burns is dying. Hoffman is frightened at what his life has to offer, leaps into his small plane, and takes to the skies, phoning all of his friends from the air. He finally gets Harrison on the radio-telephone and informs her that he is Harry Kellerman and starts to tell her all of the bad things he is and does. The plane begins to nosedive, and Hoffman sees the clouds as snow on the side of a mountain. The picture ends as Hoffman imagines Warden and himself skiing down the hill. —TVguide.com
Ulu Grosbard (born 9 January 1929) is a Belgian-born, naturalized American theatre and film director and film producer.
Born in Antwerp, Grosbard emigrated to Havana with his family in 1942. In 1948, they moved to the United States, where he earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Chicago. He studied then at the Yale School of Drama for one year before joining the United States Army, and he became a naturalized citizen in 1954.
Grosbard gravitated towards theatre when he relocated to New York City in the early 1960s. After directing The Days and Nights of BeeBee Fenstermaker off-Broadway, he earned his first Broadway credit with The Subject Was Roses, for which he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play in 1964. That same year he won the Obie Award for Best Direction and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play for an off-Broadway revival of the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge, for which Dustin… read more