A Thousand Clowns. 1965. USA. Directed by Fred Coe. Screenplay by Herb Gardner, based on his stage play. Theme music by Gerry Mulligan, lyrics by Judy Holliday. With Jason Robards, Barbara Harris, Barry Gordon. 118 min.
While Judy Holliday is never seen on film, her small but unique contribution to this offbeat comedy shouldn’t be underestimated. The theme to A Thousand Clowns was composed by her companion, saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, with humorous lyrics by Holliday (and sung by Rita Gardner). In this heartbreaking and comical film, a disillusioned but principled writer, Murray Burns, walks off the set of the TV show Chuckles the Chipmunk, jeopardizing his ability to be the legal guardian of his abandoned nephew. Murray needs the job for the boy's sake, but can he sacrifice his principles for responsibility? Robards and Gordon reprised their Broadway roles for the film.