First feature as director from Avakian, aformer editor, this adaptation of John Barth's black comedy deals somewhat incoherently with the problems of operating 'normally' amid the aberrations and monstrosities of middle class America. Tracing the progress of college graduate Jake Horner (Keach) from mental hospital (ie. 'normal' society as nightmare) to life outside - spent undermining the marriage of a teacher colleague - the film holds the attention despite its mess of styles: a mixture of incisive black comedy (Terry Southern had a hand in the script), inarticulate rage and self-indulgence. The main problem is a lack of perspective: the implications of issues, like the roles of psychiatry and women, for example, are virtually ignored. Muddled but interesting, the strengths and weaknesses of its nihilism are summarised by the pointed quote from Shakespeare: 'A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Dennis McGuire, Terry Southern, Aram Avakian|
James Earl Jones