The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975)

PG | 103 mins | Comedy | 14 March 1975

Director:

Melvin Frank

Writer:

Neil Simon

Producer:

Melvin Frank

Cinematographer:

Philip Lathrop

Editor:

Robert Wyman

Production Designer:

Preston Ames

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

       A 17 Apr 1972 DV news item announced that Neil Simon was adapting his play for the screen, and hoped to sign the play’s director, Mike Nichols, and have actors Peter Falk and Lee Grant to reprise their stage roles.
       A 13 Dec 1973 HR news brief reported that actor George Murdock was cast in the film. However, his name does not appear in credits.
       According to a news item in the 13 Jun 1974 DV, composer Paul Williams had been signed to co-write the theme with composer Marvin Hamlisch. However, his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       A 28 Nov 1973 DV news brief reported that Tom Mach and Pat Curran of the Los Angeles Rams football team, Stan Love and Mel Counts of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, and Peter Moreno and Paul Romero, two professional jockeys, were cast in the film. Although they names do not appear in the film’s credits, they played the various men that the German stewardesses bring to their apartment.
       Actor Gene Saks who played “Harry” had previously directed three previous Neil Simon film adaptations: Barefoot in the Park (1967, see entry), The Odd Couple (1968, see entry) and Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972, see entry).

      The following written statement appears in end credits: "Filmed on location at the Burbank Studios, Burbank, ... More Less

       A 17 Apr 1972 DV news item announced that Neil Simon was adapting his play for the screen, and hoped to sign the play’s director, Mike Nichols, and have actors Peter Falk and Lee Grant to reprise their stage roles.
       A 13 Dec 1973 HR news brief reported that actor George Murdock was cast in the film. However, his name does not appear in credits.
       According to a news item in the 13 Jun 1974 DV, composer Paul Williams had been signed to co-write the theme with composer Marvin Hamlisch. However, his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       A 28 Nov 1973 DV news brief reported that Tom Mach and Pat Curran of the Los Angeles Rams football team, Stan Love and Mel Counts of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, and Peter Moreno and Paul Romero, two professional jockeys, were cast in the film. Although they names do not appear in the film’s credits, they played the various men that the German stewardesses bring to their apartment.
       Actor Gene Saks who played “Harry” had previously directed three previous Neil Simon film adaptations: Barefoot in the Park (1967, see entry), The Odd Couple (1968, see entry) and Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1972, see entry).

      The following written statement appears in end credits: "Filmed on location at the Burbank Studios, Burbank, California."
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1972.
---
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1973.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1973
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1973
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1974
p. 3, 22.
Los Angeles Times
19 Mar 1975
Section IV, p. 1, 11.
New York Times
15 Mar 1975
p. 18.
Variety
25 Dec 1974
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Melvin Frank Production of
A Neil Simon Play
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward man
Ward lady
MUSIC
Mus ed
Trumpet solos
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Scr supv
Produced on the stage by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon (New York, 11 Nov 1971).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 March 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 March 1975
Los Angeles opening: 19 March 1975
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 January 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44320
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Lenses
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Mel starts his day by chasing a bus during a New York City heat wave only to be kicked off for not having exact change for his fare. Then, after suffering a ride with a rude taxicab driver and getting stuck in an elevator, he arrives at his office to discover most of the staff has been laid off. That night, he wakes up “freezing” to find his air conditioner stuck on high. Hearing two German flight attendants partying next door, Mel bangs on the wall and it cracks. He steps onto his balcony and is assaulted by the stink of rotten garbage coming up from the dumpster fourteen floors below and the sound of a dog barking. When Mel yells at the dog, his upstairs neighbor screams at him to shut up. Edna, his wife, pulls him back inside and the telephone rings. The flight attendants complain that Mel is being too loud. He orders Edna to bang on the wall, causing the neighbors to bang back. The next day, Mel is laid off from his job, but cannot face telling his wife. That Sunday, Mel and Edna drive to his older brother Harry Edison’s upscale country house, where Harry and his wife Belle extol the joys of country living. After getting poison ivy, being “eaten” by gnats and lying down on a freshly fertilized lawn, Mel tells Harry he lost his job. Harry tells him not to panic and invites Mel to join his lighting fixtures business, but Mel declines. The next day, Edna returns from grocery shopping to find three men carrying clothes, ... +


Mel starts his day by chasing a bus during a New York City heat wave only to be kicked off for not having exact change for his fare. Then, after suffering a ride with a rude taxicab driver and getting stuck in an elevator, he arrives at his office to discover most of the staff has been laid off. That night, he wakes up “freezing” to find his air conditioner stuck on high. Hearing two German flight attendants partying next door, Mel bangs on the wall and it cracks. He steps onto his balcony and is assaulted by the stink of rotten garbage coming up from the dumpster fourteen floors below and the sound of a dog barking. When Mel yells at the dog, his upstairs neighbor screams at him to shut up. Edna, his wife, pulls him back inside and the telephone rings. The flight attendants complain that Mel is being too loud. He orders Edna to bang on the wall, causing the neighbors to bang back. The next day, Mel is laid off from his job, but cannot face telling his wife. That Sunday, Mel and Edna drive to his older brother Harry Edison’s upscale country house, where Harry and his wife Belle extol the joys of country living. After getting poison ivy, being “eaten” by gnats and lying down on a freshly fertilized lawn, Mel tells Harry he lost his job. Harry tells him not to panic and invites Mel to join his lighting fixtures business, but Mel declines. The next day, Edna returns from grocery shopping to find three men carrying clothes, liquor and a television set out of the building. Upon entering her apartment, she discovers it has been robbed. Mel arrives to find all his suits have been stolen. He checks the door and does not find any signs of a forced entry. Edna admits to leaving the door unlocked because she lost her key. After the police leave, Mel takes Edna to a bar and confesses he lost his job. When she suggests they move, Mel screams he will not be run out of his city. Later, he has a panic attack, runs onto the balcony and screams curse words. His upstairs neighbor yells for him to show some respect for his wife and children, then douses him with a bucket of water. Back inside, Mel tells Edna he is having another nervous breakdown, and she begs him not to get sick and die. Weeks pass and Edna is hired as a production assistant on a television show. As her career takes off, Mel falls further into depression until he is reduced to walking aimlessly around the apartment in his dirty bathrobe, plotting revenge against the upstairs neighbor. One day he buys a snow shovel. That evening he accuses Edna of having an office affair, then uses a knife to remove the packaging from his snow shovel. He confides that he is waiting for the first snow so he can drop a shovel full on his upstairs neighbor and raves that the six percent unemployment level is a conspiracy to undermine the workingman in America. Fearing for her life Edna calls for Mel to be taken to a mental facility, only to be told the hospital is full and she will have to wait. Days later, Harry drives into the city to talk to his sisters, Pearl and Pauline, about helping their younger brother out until he can find a job, but all Pauline wants to talk about is how Mel had an oversized head when he was a child. They go to Edna and offer to pay for Mel’s psychologist, but she asks if she could use the money to buy a children’s summer camp. Although Harry agrees that Mel would be better off in the country, he refuses to give a crazy man money to start a business. As they argue, a sedated Mel arrives and tells Harry that the three things he has learned in therapy are to relax, not take life too seriously and watch what you say on the terrace. One day during therapy Mel comes to realize that his brother Harry is his father figure, and he has spent his whole life trying to please him. However, his time is up and the therapist cuts him off before he can explore this breakthrough. Walking home, Mel bumps into a young man and realizes his wallet is missing. He chases the younger man into central park, tackles him and demands the return of the wallet. The young man gives it to him and races away. Later, Edna arrives at her apartment building with two bags of groceries, only to learn the elevators are out of service and the water has been turned off for repairs. After screaming at the doorman, Edna climbs the fourteen floors. Mel arrives out of breath, but jubilant from his victory in Central Park. As he brags about attacking the pickpocket, Edna tells him he left his wallet on the dresser. Realizing he is the mugger, he states he has to give the money back, but Edna screams the city has stolen enough from them and it is time for others to share in the suffering. Mel tries to reason with her, but she shrieks that she lost her job and if she does not get into a hot bath she will kill someone. As the doorbell rings, Mel suggests she get in the tub and wait for the water to be turned back on. Mel opens the door to find Harry who hands him a check to buy the summer camp. When Mel refuses the check, Harry bemoans that Mel will never take help from him. He then accuses Mel of being the favorite and complains about having to go to work at eleven years old after their father died. Near tears, he tells Mel that although he is successful, he envies how everyone loves Mel. Mel hugs him, tears up the check and goes back inside his apartment to find Edna banging on the pipes. The two argue about Mel’s refusal to ask his family for money, and Edna storms onto the terrace and swears at the city. The upstairs neighbor’s wife appears and demands she be quiet. Edna screams that since the water is off, there is no way to shut her up. Mel pushes Edna back inside and apologizes for her behavior, but gets doused with another bucket of water. He sits on the sofa, and calmly convinces Edna he has recovered from his depression and is ready to find a new job. As they hug, they see it is snowing. Mel grabs his snow shovel and the two of them wait for enough snow to clobber their neighbor. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.