Next Stop, Greenwich Village

Paul Mazursky’s autobiographical comedy-drama is set in 1953. Mazursky’s stand-in is Larry Lapinsky (Lenny Baker), who has the classic smothering Jewish mother (Shelley Winters) and stoic dad (Mike Kellin). He moves out at age 22 and heads for Greenwich Village to pursue his dream of being an actor. He deals with his noncommittal girlfriend (Ellen Greene) and meets various specific types of the day: callous playwright/loverboy Christopher Walken (fans should check him out here in his first significant movie role pre-Deer Hunter), gay Antonio Fargas, perpetually suicidal Lois Smith, nurturing bohemian Dori Brenner, insecure actor Jeff Goldblum. The time and place are evoked beautifully — I would’ve liked to have lived there back then. Like Larry, the movie never loses its inherent sense of humor even when things turn bleak. The final scene, in which Larry eats an apple strudel while lingering on his Brooklyn block and listening to a street fiddler, is perfect. Sadly, six years after this was released, Lenny Baker died of cancer. He was only 37. Dori Brenner (who gives the film’s warmest performance) also died of cancer in 2000, at 54.

Explore posts in the same categories: comedy, drama, one of the year's best

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