Anthology Film Archives


May 2 – May 4

National treasures both, Peter Falk and Alan Arkin appeared together only twice, alas. Their first collaboration, THE IN-LAWS, is an uproarious and increasingly far-fetched comic epic whose over-the-top narrative contrivances are expertly grounded by Falk’s deadpan genius and Arkin’s sublime straight-man composure. Regularly screened, foolishly remade (in 2003), and duly beloved, THE IN-LAWS is an acknowledged classic of zany 70s-era comedy.

Not so BIG TROUBLE, despite (or more likely thanks to) the fact that the great John Cassavetes ended up at the helm. Taking over from Andrew Bergman, who wrote both films and began directing BIG TROUBLE himself, before departing the production in a huff, Cassavetes stepped in at the last minute. That this spontaneously-arranged, work-for-hire project turned out to be the last film he (partly) directed is something critics seem to have held against the film itself, as if it’s to blame for denying the magnificent, deeply personal LOVE STREAMS its rightful place as Cassavetes’s swan song.

However, BIG TROUBLE deserves to be forgiven for having the presumption to exist, and appreciated for what it is: a worthy, arguably even superior follow-up to THE IN-LAWS. Though far from a personal project, Cassavetes’s stamp is perfectly apparent, in its radical looseness, its highly unconventional comic rhythms, and in the sense of joyful abandon that’s apparent among the cast (which includes not only Falk and Arkin, but fellow IN-LAWS-alum, Richard Libertini). Featuring equally unforgettable performances from its leads (including an Arkin spit-take to end all spit-takes), and a plot at least as outlandish as that of the previous film, BIG TROUBLE is every bit as hilarious as its predecessor. The opportunity to see them together at last is not to be missed!

Special thanks to Christopher Lane & Michael Horne (Sony) and Kristie Nakamura (WB).

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