Sunday, April 28, 2019


SPOILER ALERT! The plot will be discussed.

I have always been interested in stories that explore the positive and negative aspects of the human mind’s desire for unrestricted freedom and the opposite need to limit liberation since numerous possibilities can cause instability and unhappiness. A few films that have dealt with these issues are Rebel Without a Cause, The Shawshank Redemption, Limitless and Lucy. Charly, a 1968 movie, examines the benefits derived from being highly intelligent versus the happy, though vulnerable state of ignorant innocence.

The film starts on a playground with Charly Gordon, (Cliff Robertson, who won the Best Actor Oscar for this performance) a mentally challenged adult, enjoying the slide and swing in the company of children. He wears a suit that is too small for him, which implies he is internally a child inhabiting the body of an adult. The story takes place in Boston, a city with a number of renowned colleges, which emphasizes that Charly is out of touch here with the level of intelligence in his surroundings. We see him listening to college students on a campus arguing esoteric themes in Goethe’s Faust. The brainy discussions make him feel like an outcast, but they also inspire him. Charly tries to write on the blackboard in his apartment, but the words are misspelled. He has a disheveled appearance, like a boy who plays in the outdoors. His mouth is open and unsymmetrical, as if it is struggling to say the correct things. His tongue keeps moving, implying he is trying to form what to say. He shuffles when he walks, looking like a boy attempting to deal with his developing body.

At an adult literacy class, taught by Alice Kinnian (Claire Bloom), Charly struggles at writing on the blackboard. After class, she says he missed showing up at a clinic for some tests. He says he forgot, went to a library instead, and was thrilled to see so many books. He experiences joy to be in the presence of so much learning in front of him, but is incapable of tapping into that knowledge. At the clinic Alice conducts some basic tests that Charly struggles with, although he does answer correctly. He is observed through a two-way mirror, and becomes distracted by making faces like a kid looking at his own reflection. The film employs split screens to show test drawings and Charly’s reaction simultaneously. His limited mental capacity is demonstrated by his not even being sure about his memories. He has glimpses of being sick, but the woman taking care of him may have been at the “institution,” which shows custody was given up and he became a ward of the state, removing him from the consistent support of a traditional family.

Charly works as a janitor at a bakery, and suffers the teasing and pranks of fellow employees, who act like bullies, building themselves up by exerting power over those less fortunate. They put dough ingredients in his locker that expand and then laugh as he tries to scoop out the mess. He laughs with them, not even aware of their torment because he is incapable of comprehending malicious behavior.
 At the clinic, the scientists put Algernon, a white mouse, in a maze, and want Charly to try and beat Algernon to the finish. (The image of mice in a maze suggests an analogy to people trying to find out solutions to situations that have confined their understanding of life). Charly is so sweet that he worries that the mouse won’t get his food if he doesn’t solve the puzzle, but Alice assures him the mouse won’t go hungry. The scientists give Charly a diagram of the maze and want him to draw a line from start to finish. He always takes out his lucky rabbit foot when doing tests, as if looking for some magic to help him, and which is what the scientists, in a way, later offer him. The mouse beats Charly.

Alice takes him home, but Charly is upset because he is not as smart as Algernon. She wants to see his apartment, which he feels embarrassed to show because it is a dingy room. He has a picture of the guys he works with and says they are his best friends, and it is sad that he feels that way. He sits in a chair that looks like one meant for a child at school, again reflecting his mental age. She tells him that the reason that Algernon solved the maze puzzle quickly is that he had an operation that made him smarter. They are ready to try the experiment on a human and she asks if he would like that procedure. He looks away as if trying to picture a different world. He says he would like to be smarter so he could understand the words that others speak. He looks down when saying this, almost ashamed of his lack of mental powers.

Charly competes in more races with Algernon as the walls in the maze and the lines in Charly’s diagrams are altered to vary the solutions. Charly’s Full Scale IQ is determined to be 70. The scientists feel that he is too old and his mental ability too low to be the first test subject for their intelligence expanding experiment. Despite no physical danger resulting from the operation, they say that young people would adjust better to the quick psychological changes that will occur following the treatment. Alice argues that Charly has perseverance, having attended two years of night school to improve his reading. Also, she says that he does not have a personality prone to frustration, and is pleasant despite being tormented by others. The female scientist, Dr. Anna Strauss (Lilia Skala), says that there is the positive factor that Alice is a teacher whom Charly trusts, and whom he will need following the procedure to aid him in an accelerated learning program. Alice isn’t sure she can devote the time since she is about to work with her fiancé on a joint thesis. This excuse shows that Alice’s relationship with her boyfriend is more cerebral than romantic.

There is a short scene showing Charly riding a Boston tour bus, which illustrates his desire to learn. The bus driver knows him because he takes the same tour every Sunday. This information shows Charly’s limitations since he cannot retain the information provided on the tour. However, the fact that he keeps showing up every week demonstrates his desire to obtain knowledge.
His fellow workers pressure Charly to go out for a beer so they can pull off one of their recurring pranks. They have the bartender turn off the jukebox and convince Charly that if he talks to the machine it will come back on. As he speaks to it, the bartender plugs the power cord in, and the music starts playing again. They also tell him, because he is unable to conceive of them deceiving him, that if he goes to a certain street intersection, he will see that is the place where the snow always starts at the beginning of a storm. They are keeping Charly in a state that he later says prevented him from seeing things as they really are. Exploiting Charly’s considerate nature, Gimpy (Edward McNally) says that when he sees the first flakes, he should call the bar so they will leave before it turns into a blizzard. At the street location, a police car stops and the officers ask Charly what is he doing. When he says he is waiting for it to snow, they laugh and call him “stupid.” He hears that remark and looks sad as he walks to the playground, the place his childlike personality feels at home, and sits dejected on a swing seat. Alice finds him there and she tells him he qualifies for the operation. He is elated, and starts to swing higher and higher, showing how he wants to soar above his situation.

Charly undergoes the surgical procedure. The first person he sees when he wakes up is Alice, looking like a guardian angel. He says he doesn’t feel any smarter. They run tests, but there is no discernible improvement. Charly feels frustrated and defeated, and runs out of the clinic. He lets out his frustration at the bumper car ride at a carnival (another place meant for children) which shows he feels he is being battered at every turn. Charly finds Algernon and the maze in his apartment, and he assumes that the people at the clinic want him to keep testing himself to see if his problem solving improves. He is upset but his landlady, Mrs. Apple (Ruth White), who has a dog for her companion, tells him of the joys of having a pet and urges him to take care of Algernon. He looks at what he has written down on a candy wrapper while on his bus tour and looks at what he wrote on his blackboard. He seems to have some insight into spelling, significantly, the word “school,” a place where one learns. He then wants to race Algernon again. This time he beats the mouse, and yells his triumph through the streets. He announces his victory at the clinic.

A little time passes, and as Alice writes on a blackboard, Charly is admiring her body, his interest in carnal knowledge increasing with his mental powers. He is able to punctuate the paragraph she wrote. Then on the other side of the board, he shows her sentences that don’t make sense to her until he correctly punctuates them for her. He is now the one administering the tests. She announces the role reversal when she says, “The student surpasses the teacher.” He is now asking questions about her personal life, since his attraction for her is growing. He learns that her husband died, and asks if she loves “Frank,” the fiancé. She skirts the issue, giving him books to read to make him focus on his mind instead of her body.
Back at his place Charly has a video teaching machine that allows him to pause to answers questions, which he does correctly. He consults his blackboard on which he posts his daily schedule, and it now has a list that contains no spelling errors. His co-workers continue to ridicule Charly, telling him it’s April Fool’s Day, which they say must be Charly’s birthday, since it is a day that celebrates tricking unwitting people. He has a copy of the English Constitution in his back pocket, which Hank (Barney Martin) takes from Charly. Gimpy wants to humiliate Charly by saying he should operate the dough machine if he’s smart enough to be carrying around such a serious document. It’s a complicated process that Gimpy details. Hank imitates Charly mopping up with exaggerated, derogatory movements. But Charly works the machine correctly, turning the tables on his tormentors.
As Charley and Alice look at slides through a microscope, he keeps asking about her love life. She tells him she would like to avoid personal questions that don’t pertain to his learning process. However, his inquiries are relevant, because he is advancing in his emotional development, also. Charly has a cheese treat for Algernon, saying it’s the mouse’s birthday, since they don’t know when it actually is. Charly’s experience echoes that of Algernon, since both are going through a sort of rebirth. Charly’s diction is now more precise with no slurring caused by uncertainty.

Alice visits Dr. Strauss who is working with mentally challenged children. She has sent the scientist a note about resigning from the project because she feels she will hinder Charly’s progress if he becomes too emotionally invested in her. Dr. Strauss says Alice should understand, being a psychologist, that Charly has transferred his feelings of elation over his accomplishments to Alice, which is normal. Now it is Dr. Strauss who asks about Alice’s personal life, which she again tries to avoid discussing, which makes one wonder if she is really satisfied with her relationship with her fiancé. Alice agrees to stay on until the convention takes place that will present the clinic’s findings.

Alice walks with Charly and talks about Boston’s Freedom Trail (which possibly refers to the ramifications of Charly’s freedom from his previous mental state). She quizzes him as they go along. He seems distracted, although his voice is assured now, answering correctly and quickly when pressed for answers. But facts are no longer enough for him. He wonders about what makes individuals tick. He asks why people don’t laugh at a blind or crippled person, but find it acceptable to make fun of a “moron.” It seems physical disabilities get a dispensation, but there seems to be a special kind of perverse bigotry when it comes to ranking levels of intelligence. He tells Alice that he discovered severance money and a note of dismissal at work. He tells her that his so-called “friends” signed a petition that led to Charly being fired. Now that he was no longer a source of demeaning entertainment, and perceived as a threat to their jobs because he can perform their tasks, they plotted to have him removed. Charly is seeing how those he thought were smarter actually had small minds, circumscribed by their fears and prejudices. He asks is that a natural law, “increased intelligence means lost friends.” Of course, they only appeared to be his friends in his innocent state.

Alice says not to worry about income since he will be paid for his participation at the clinic. She informs him that there will be a demonstration at a symposium on the results of the work of the scientists. He seems pleased that if he works at the clinic he will be seeing her more. In reference to the education process, she quotes George Bernard Shaw who said, “Whenever you learn something, it seems at first that you lose something.” She says that a whole universe is opening up for him, and he is growing out of the old one, which brings about pain. The implication is that it’s sometimes difficult to leave behind old, comfortable ways to move on to new ones, like the pain a mother feels when giving birth to a child that will change her life.

The male scientist, Dr. Richard Nemur (Leon Janney), documents the accelerated pace of Charly’s intellectual growth. Dr. Strauss (playing the empathetic maternal role versus the traditional demanding paternal one of Dr. Nemur) says he is pushing Charly too hard. She says he is emotionally still a child, frightened and insecure, as shown by the psychological interpretation of his drawings, which, she, as the person in charge of his emotional development, says show disturbing signs. She sees Dr. Nemur as sacrificing Charly’s mental health to further his own agenda. Dr. Nemur announces that Alice is no longer of any use, since Charly needs a more demanding teacher. Dr. Strauss says that their goals should be more modest, but Nemur sees no “ceiling” to Charly’s progress and so wants to keep pushing. Nemur does not want to acknowledge the possible harmful fallout of having no “ceiling,” no limitations placed on the unfettered mind.
Charly is stalking Alice, and after her fiancé leaves her place, with only a peck for a kiss, Charly shows up with a gift. He notes that her fiancé only kissed her on the cheek, so she realizes he has been spying on her. He admits to having fallen in love with Alice. He gives her an ornate handheld mirror (to emphasize how beautiful she appears to him? But, is he seeing a true reflection of himself?). She tries to tell him that he’s not seeing the situation clearly, but she, too, is not perceiving her true feelings yet. He, however, does not allow for her to proceed at her own pace. Instead, getting used to no restrictions in acquiring information, Charly now feels justified in breaking the rules of social interaction. He tries to force himself on her. She pushes him off, and then slaps him. But then, Alice demeans Charly by saying how could anyone want him because he is a “stupid moron.” Her outrage is justified, but the response does not reflect her anger because of the current attack. Instead it shows how deep-seated the prejudice is against the mentally challenged as it even exists in a supposedly enlightened individual. This incident illustrates that advanced intelligence does not automatically make someone a better person, since Charly is acting like a sexual predator. Before the procedure, Charly was a sweet, caring person. The movie suggests that there is a fall from grace, as occurs in Genesis, when the bounty provided in a state of innocence is forfeited, and worldly knowledge is then used as a tool to satisfy selfish needs.
Charly now is out of control, seeking boundless thrills on a motorcycle, and riding with multiple women. There are a series of screen inserts showing Charly associated with the hippie lifestyle. The film came out in the 1960’s, when there was rebelliousness by the youth against accepted societal conventions. (The Ravi Shankar music adds to the mood). Earlier, the landlady, Mrs. Apple, (referring to the biblical symbol for self-indulgence?) a religious woman from predominantly Catholic Boston, said that young people were being swayed by the devil. Perhaps the story is equating Charly’s situation with the youth of the times, not in a flattering way. (Of course this reduction is simplistic, since there were justifiable reasons for questioning those in authority for sending youths to die in an indefensible war, repressing minorities, and perpetuating lies).

After his period of wildness, he returns to his apartment and finds Alice there. He says he is selling his motorcycle, the symbol of his renegade state of mind. She asks what did he learn. He says, “I’m back,” which implies that he went through his period of youthful alienation and associated irresponsibility, and has matured, now seeking stability again. He has gone through those growing pains Alice had mentioned earlier, in an accelerated manner, given the experiment in which he was involved. When he asks her what she has learned, she says, “I’m here.” She realizes that she, like him, had not undergone emotional development, and was preventing herself from experiencing loving intimacy. She walks toward him, as the door behind her slowly closes, implying that she, too, was leaving something behind to move forward as she had said earlier he was doing.

They become lovers. As they frolic in an idyllic scene in the woods, the movie has them speak in voice-overs. He wants her to marry him, while she says he is progressing so quickly that she couldn’t keep up, and didn’t want to hold him back, not wanting to place restrictions on his newfound mental freedom. But she is talking intellectually, and he points out that Einstein was married, so that there are emotional needs that must be met. She says Einstein said, “that everything was in motion, that nothing ever stands still.” She sees him moving away from her eventually. Then there is a cut to a merry-go-around, following up with the idea about motion. But, it points back to the beginning, where Charly played as a man-child. He and Alice go down a slide together. He has an advanced intellect, but still wants the joys of childhood. The image, with its downward movement, is also a foreshadowing of what’s to come. He continues to want to learn, but now about love. She says that some say true love is “letting go,” which is what she has had to do, relinquishing the defenses she had erected to protect her from the possible harm that can come if her emotional investment did not pay off. He asks, “what’s enough love,” and she answers, “Always a little more than anyone ever gets.” This response points to the human condition, which always seeks more and more, but is never satisfied. This pursuit is a blessing and a curse.

Four weeks have gone by and the scientists have had no word from Charly or Alice. They are at the site of their presentation. Dr. Strauss wants to show all the stages of Algernon’s development, which Dr. Nemur does not. This discussion provides a hint that there is something ominous about the course of the experiment. Charly and Alice appear, and are in a very happy mood, having fallen in love. At the time of the presentation, however, Charly is anxious. He sees a tape of how he acted at his initial clinical appearance, which was joyful in its ignorance. When asked, he says he now sees things as they are, and will be. His knowledge has brought him no joy. Like Jonathan Swift’s King of Brobdingnag in Gulliver’s Travels, Charly deflates the scientists’ exalted opinions of human advancement. As to modern science, he says it is “Rampant technology. Conscience by computer.” Thus, machines eliminate human feeling. Modern art consists of work by “Dispassionate draftsmen,” which points, again, to precision without emotion. Foreign policy consists of “Brave new weapons,” alluding to the dehumanization in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Today’s youth is “Joyless, guideless,” alienated, without direction. Religion is “Preachment by popularity polls,” not adherence to consistent moral ideals. The current standard of living is having “A TV in every room,” (which is not far off from what has occurred). Charly gives the same answer concerning modern education, which implies an abandonment of high standards. Again referencing Huxley, Charly says the future consists of “Brave new hates, brave new bombs, brave new wars.” He sees future generations coming from “Test-tube conception, laboratory births,” which remove the human element from procreation. He says what’s to come is “a beautifully purposeless process of society suicide,” with the use of “beautifully” providing an ironic comment to the destruction of human culture. Charly has a question, “Charly Gordon?” He turns to Dr. Nemur, who doesn’t answer. Charly says Nemur knows, but hasn’t told him. Charly says Algernon has already provided the him with the answer, which is “Charly Gordon is a fellow who will very shortly be what he used to be.” We now know why Charly was so grim. He has seen his fate.

Charly runs out of the conference, with Alice searching for him. He heads back to the playground. He sees visions of his old self haunting him as he tries to run away from them. He goes through a building with confining walls that look like a maze, as Algernon is superimposed on the image. He now sees the prison he was in that, in his ignorance, he was unaware of, and to where he will be returning. He goes to his apartment and sees all of his books and objects that refer to his current intellectual interests begin to disappear in his mind’s eye. He goes to a bar, and there is a mentally challenged waiter who is laughed at as people pile glasses on his tray, causing him to drop them. Charly identifies with the man, and helps him pick up the glasses, knowing he will again be suffering the waiter’s predicament.

At the clinic, test results show that all of the mice which underwent the treatment are suffering Algernon’s fate. Alice is upset that neither she nor Charly was told of this outcome. Dr. Strauss says only recently did she see the results as conclusive. Dr. Nemur says Charly had no right to reveal the problem at the symposium. Alice accuses him of not wanting to have his moment of glory spoiled, which is another indication that having intelligence does not guarantee ethical behavior. The scientists argue that the regression may be limited to the mice, and Charly is not a laboratory animal. But, hasn’t he been treated as such, since Charly and the mice were experimented on without knowing the possible negative outcomes of the procedure? Charly returns to the clinic. Alice harshly asks if Strauss and Nemur put their failed “specimens” in the freezer and then the incinerator. Charly, after having moved forward into his new world of enlightenment and not wanting to go backward, asks how he can help.

He applies his genius abilities to the problem, working with computer operators to come up with a possible cure. But, during the process, he finds his mental abilities failing. After he finishes his work on his analysis of the regression, he waits for his spoken thoughts transcribed on tape to be programmed into the computer for results. The scientists tell him that his conclusions were correct. Unfortunately, the findings were that there was nothing that could be done to reverse the decline. Charly takes the news with calm resignation, scientifically saying it was a promising theory.
Alice visits Charly at his apartment. She asks him to marry her. His smile registers as a “no.” He does not want her to even stay around to see his reversal, which would be too sad for her. The movie ends as it began, with Charlie in the playground. He is on the seesaw, showing the up and then down journey he has experienced. But, he is smiling and happy, blissful again in his ignorance, unaware of what he has lost.

The next film is The Godfather Part II.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Fisher King

SPOILER ALERT! The plot will be discussed.

This 1991 film from director Terry Gilliam, is a redemption tale. The Fisher King, in Arthurian legend, usually refers to a knight who requires the healing of a physical wound, but which symbolizes the salvation of the soul. This movie shows how the two main characters and the women in their lives are on quests to acquire their individual Holy Grails. The story also addresses the issue of homelessness as it relates to the neglect of the poor in an affluent society.

The film starts with the theme song of shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges, in a terrific performance), which is “Hit the Road Jack.” The song reflects his unsympathetic attitude toward his listeners, but eventually describes how he drops out of show business after feeling responsible for a tragedy. The movie is prescient in depicting how the manipulative power of the media can do harm. The first shot includes a closeup of Jack’s mouth as he speaks into a radio microphone, which emphasizes this theme.

The first person who calls into Jack’s show is a woman who speaks hesitantly and says her husband is driving her crazy finishing her thoughts, which is what Jack sarcastically does. The husband is probably being driven “crazy” by the way the woman speaks, showing how people are at each other's throats because of communication issues. (The movie uses the “crazy” theme to show that irrationality takes on many forms). When the woman says Jack has hit the problem on the head, he says somebody should hit her on the head. So, the form of entertainment he provides is one of degradation. He exploits scandals. But he makes a good observation about the desire in people to achieve notoriety, even if it is an infamous kind. A woman calls in to complain about his comments. Jack points out her hypocrisy when he says she had sex with a senator in the parking lot of Sea World and now wants privacy.

Jack receives a call from Edwin Melnick, who has phoned in before, and now says he saw a woman he was attracted to at an exclusive, upscale spot. He apparently has been lonely for a long time and has tried to meet women. Jack has turned his sad situation into a sideshow, manipulating him into disastrous encounters. Jack, as shock jocks do, attacks everybody, and tells him not to deal with yuppies, who only marry their own kind, causing mental deficiencies due to “inbreeding.” Jack says, “They’re not human.” He calls them evil and says “they must be stopped … It’s us or them.” Edwin says in a quiet voice, “Okay, Jack.” Little does Jack realize what he has set into motion. His sign-off song is “I Got the Power,” which drives home the force inherent in having the big microphone. Jack ends his show talking about having sex with the teenager of his choice, which is not only off-putting, it’s illegal, but implies the rules don’t apply to the very powerful. He finishes his program, akin to the narcissistic bragging of any current day politician, by saying, “Thank God I’m me.”

Off the air, Jack is praised by his agent, Lou Rosen (David Hyde Pierce), in Jack’s limo. Lou says Jack is in demand for a TV job. A beggar knocks on the window of the luxurious car, highlighting the huge discrepancy in the economic situations of the two men. Jack says a couple of bucks won’t make a difference anyway, without thinking that maybe a more equitable allocation of wealth added with compassion might. The scene shows Jack’s pessimism about the human condition.

Back at his condo, Jack, looking in a mirror, stressing his narcissism, says how he hates his cheeks. He is now concerned about his looks because the next day he will be filmed for the first time, and he will be a “voice with a body.” His girlfriend must feel like a confined possession because she says she would like to get out for a change. He bemoans the fact that she doesn’t seem supportive of how important the next day is for him. She tries to cut his ego down to size by saying he’s only doing a sitcom, “not defining pi.” He says he thought his biography should be entitled, “Jack Lucas: The Face Behind the Voice,” but now it will change to “The Face and the Voice,” or just “Jack!” The exclamation point emphasizes his preoccupation with himself.
He dances in his upper story apartment, after going over his lines, and declaring that he’s “got this.” Literally and figuratively on top of the world, Jack then experiences the bomb drop that decimates his life and forces him to confront the repercussions of the reckless use of his power. On the TV he hears his own voice that ignited his listener to violence. Edwin Melnick went to that yuppie bar, an after-work place called “Babbitt’s” (a Sinclair Lewis reference about greed?). He opened fire with a shotgun and killed seven people before shooting himself. Jack looks on horrified as the newscaster says that Melnick was a lonely, invisible man, who went to what was then the social network, the airwaves, “looking for friendship, and finding only pain and tragedy.”

There is a jump forward of three years, and now Jack is sitting at the back of a video store in a rundown part of the city, looking as seedy as the beggar he arrogantly dismissed. He hasn’t changed his negative attitude as he says, “Garbage. People are garbage,” as he reads a tabloid. He will later discover that there are those worth saving among those that people have discarded like trash. It is interesting that although he left one source of media, radio, he latched onto another, video, not quite being able to divorce himself from the entertainment business. Anne (Mercedes Ruehl, winning a supporting actress Oscar for this role) wonders if he’ll do any work, as she sees him reach for some booze, calling it sarcastically his “Breakfast of Champions.” But, he does not want to work because he is resistant to come into contact with others, possibly afraid of social interaction based on his past. Camera shots show people through Jack’s perspective, as faces look distorted, showing how he sees everyone as grotesque. Anne says she loves him, but he is in one of his “emotional abyss” moods, and when he says he hates desperate people, she corrects him by saying he hates people in general. His devaluing of individuals may be a defense mechanism to lessen the impact of his having hurt others.

As they watch a TV show and Anne laughs, he looks grim, and says it’s not funny. He says he watches it to show him how unfunny it is, because he says that the country has no appreciation of quality, and that makes him feel good that he never was in a sitcom. If he was famous because of starring in one, it would mean that he was “not really talented,” which would be a huge blow to someone who is so self-involved. It turns out that the show is the one he was supposed to star in, and he is rationalizing his fall from fame, trying to not feel the pain of that loss. He is still selfish, continuing to only be concerned about his own situation. Anne correctly calls him “sick,” and “self-absorbed.” He hasn’t made any attempts at trying to fix the devastating effects of the shooting on him.

Jack wanders off drunk in the rain. He sees a rich guy with his son as the man is accosted by a beggar, just as Jack once was. The boy gives Jack a Pinocchio doll. Does this gift signify that Jack is lying to himself? Does he have to gain some insight to get out of his self-imposed exile? Jack talks to the doll about how Nietzsche said there are those who are destined for greatness, like, Jack says, Walt Disney (which connects to the doll), and Adolf Hitler (the Nazis appropriated their view of Nietzsche’s works to advance their movement). Both men dealt to a degree in escape from reality, although for benign and evil reasons. The rest of us are what Nietzsche described as “the bungled and the botched.” He says that the majority of people are “the expendable masses,” who “get pushed in front of trains, take poison aspirin, get gunned down in Dairy Queens.” The “gunned down” reference connects to the restaurant massacre, and he seems to now be identifying himself with those who are “teased” into thinking they can be great, but can’t achieve greatness. He asks the Pinocchio doll if he ever feels as if “you’re being punished for your sins?” Of course, Pinocchio was, for his lies and, for quite a while, being denied the chance of becoming a real boy. In a way, Jack is incomplete as a human being, too, and has been psychologically punished for his sins. But he is just bemoaning his experience, not learning from it.

Jack, not being able to deal with his failure and guilt, straps concrete to his feet, goes to city’s river edge, and is ready to drown himself. Local vigilante types drive up to the garbage-strewn area and consider Jack to be part of the vagrant population that has befouled their city. They ironically associate Jack with the same element of society he turned his back on. They pour gasoline on him and are ready to burn him like trash, like one of the garbage people Jack railed against. Parry (Robin Williams, in an Oscar-nominated performance) shows up appearing like a comic version of Don Quixote. (His name sounds like a fencing term, which means to deflect a blow, and could refer to his adopting his knighthood persona as a mental defense mechanism. Also, as IMDb points out, his name can refer to the knight Percival who sought the Holy Grail, or Parsifal, the fool, who brought redemption to the Fisher King, Amfortas, just as Parry helps save Jack). Parry is a street person who comically uses a trash can cover for a shield. He is accompanied by other vagrants, one of whom holds a lug wrench which looks like a cross, adding a religious crusader element to their actions. They begin to sing “I like New York in June/How about you?” It is an ironic song given their predicament, but they are positive-sounding lyrics to help deal with their fate. Here, Jack encounters a man who has also been harmed by life, and Parry, too, has been exiled from the world, but into a realm of fantasy to escape his pain. Parry says there are “three things in this world that you need: Respect for all kinds of life; a nice bowel movement on a regular basis; and a navy blazer.” It sounds silly, but he is just saying that people must care about others first, and then the individual just requires warmth and a decent diet. The lesson is that striving after other things amounts to seeking excesses. Parry is able to sling a ball at one of the attackers, knocking him down. He ties up the man with tape as the other runs off. Parry has rescued Jack from physical harm from himself and others, and later eventually aids in saving him psychologically. Jack says he needs a drink and Perry says humorously that he knows a place with great ambiance.

They go to an outside refuge for street people. Many of those gathered there seem mentally disabled, left to survive on their own. There is a fire burning, looking a bit like a surrealist inferno. The sleeve of Jack’s coat catches fire and he waves it with such force that the flames die out. The response of the area’s denizens is to applaud, like it was theater, so absurd is life to them. They force alcohol on Jack and he passes out, awakening in Parry’s underground “domicile,” a building boiler room (a reference to hell, as are the many inclusions of fire, suggesting the two characters are in a version of Hades). Parry wants to give Jack some food, saying his guest’s stomach must be like a “tabula rasa,” which shows Parry is an intelligent, witty fellow. Parry has auditory hallucinations, engaging in conversations with imaginary “little people” who he says sent him to Jack. He tells them he knows “He’s the one,” referring to Jack, which in knighthood terms, means his “champion,” the one to help Parry. Parry holds up a self-fashioned sword (made from metal from a Ford vehicle, showing how discards can be transformed into something more significant) and declares himself a “knight” on a special quest. He says he and the little people serve God and Parry is the lord’s “janitor,” a sort of refuse superhero acting as an agent of the deity.

Parry says the little people told him to look at a specific issue of an architecture magazine. In a picture there is a trophy, which Parry says is the Holy Grail, “God’s symbol of divine grace,” sitting on a bookshelf. The Holy Grail quest can represent a desire to return to nobility, purity, and salvation. Doubting Jack, who thinks Parry is a benign psychotic, questions Parry’s belief, saying, “Some billionaire has the Holy Grail in his library on Fifth Avenue.” Parry carries forward the joke by saying who would think one would find anything “divine on the Upper East Side,” of New York, since the modern world is in such a state of decline. He tells Jack he can’t get the Grail himself because “he’s” out there. Parry is referring to the Red Knight, an imaginary adversary, which represents the horror from Parry’s trauma blocking his quest for salvation. (IMDb notes that in medieval mythology Parsifal battled the Red Knight, which, like in this story, is a psychological projection of the questing knight). Jack has to leave, and Parry says he shouldn’t be a stranger and they can get together and “rummage,” which sounds like an odd activity for two people to share. But, symbolically, that is exactly what these two men must do, dig into their psyches to unearth their respective happier selves.

On his way out of the boiler room, Jack encounters the apartment superintendent (Al Fann) who says he allows Parry to stay there out of compassion for his tragedy. We find out that fate has brought Jack and Parry together, because Parry’s wife was killed in the yuppie club by Melnick, the man who Jack had spoken to on the radio. Back at the video store, Anne shows her concern for Jack. He doesn’t tell her about his possible suicide attempt. She tells him that she loves him, realizing he doesn't yet have the capacity to say it back, adding “although it wouldn’t break your jaw to try.” He is thinking about Parry now, his guilt magnified by coming into contact with someone who suffered from his actions. He asks Anne if she knows what the Holy Grail is, and she says it was “Jesus’s juice glass.” When asked if she believes in God, she says yes, she was brought up a Catholic, but believes man was made in the devil’s image because “most of the shit that happens comes from man.” She feels women came from God, because God creates, as do women by giving birth to babies. Women are attracted more to the devil, the bad boy, because saints are boring. Which may explain why she is with Jack. She says that the purpose of life is for men and women to get married so the devil and God can get together and work things out. Anne may seem common, but her insight here hits the mark because both Jack and Parry must participate in battles between their inner angels and demons.

Jack returns to Parry’s basement dwelling and encounters the superintendent again, who tells Jack that Parry was in a mental hospital at one point. Parry’s real name is Henry Sagan, and he taught medieval history at Hunter College (which explains his fixation on the Grail story). He didn’t speak for a year, and then invented his Parry persona. Jack looks at a document that has “The Fisher King” written on it, noting the essay deals with a “mythic journey” which is what Parry feels he must undertake. Parry and his wife lived in that building, and the manager let him stay in the basement after getting out of the mental facility. Jack looks at a picture of Parry’s wife as the manager tells him how Parry was very much in love with her.

Back at Anne’s place, Jack looks at the newspaper clippings that contain headlines about Jack’s radio program and the slayings. He says to her that he is cursed, being brought into contact with a man who was damaged by the shootings. He seems to be searching for a way to “just pay the fine and go home.” He still is self-centered, because his primary concern is to end his torment, but the fact that he has guilty feelings is a sign that he can be redeemed.

Jack goes looking for Parry. When he finds him, Parry brings Jack along as he follows a woman, Lydia Sinclair (Amanda Plummer), who is very awkward, bumping into a person, and knocking over paperback books at an outside stand. (IMDb notes that in Holy Grail legend, the Sinclair clan is mentioned, which thus ties Lydia to Parry’s salvation). Parry, although attracted to Lydia, says of her fiction reading, “She’s into trash, but what are you going to do?” This line is funny, but ironically foreshadows that she may be able to care for someone like Parry who lives among the city’s trash. He knows she eats dumplings on Wednesdays, and they see her dropping them in her lap. (Parry presses himself against the restaurant's window to observe Lydia, upsetting upscale-looking customers, which stresses the differences between the have and have-nots). Parry may like Lydia because she is, like him, an outsider. Jack gives Parry some money, a sort of easy way out of making amends. Parry sees it as a generous act, but it’s not what he wants or needs. He gives the money to another street person, which upsets Jack, but which again shows Parry’s caring nature.

Parry takes Jack to the billionaire’s house, which looks, appropriately, like a medieval castle, and where Parry believes the Holy Grail now resides. Jack tells him there is no Holy Grail, but Parry says the Crusades were not just a papal publicity stunt. Jack warns him it will be dangerous for Parry to try to break into the house. He keeps calling Parry derogatory names, such as “moron,” but Parry only sees the good in Jack, thrilled that he wants to protect Parry. He says to Jack, “You’re a real human being. You’re a friend,” which is exactly the opposite of what Jack feels about himself, since he labels himself “scum.” Parry is offering healing words for the damaged Jack.

Jack tells Parry that there are no little people, and starts to tell him that he is making up his story, and used to teach at Hunter College. Parry is not ready to have his protective delusion stripped from him, and he shouts and writhes on the ground. He has a vision of the fire-exuding Red Knight because he is the symbol of his trauma, his hell, that keeps him from facing reality. But, Parry sees the Red Knight turn around and retreat, so Parry feels that the creature is afraid of Jack, who Parry has charged with helping him fight what frightens him. Parry runs off supposedly after the Red Knight. Jack follows him, showing how he does care about Parry. When he catches up to him in Central Park up on a rock, Parry tells him about the Red Knight. Jack, ready to call it quits, looks up to the sky and says that he wants to let it be known he gave Parry some money. He appears to be talking to God. Parry has a quizzical look on his face. He is the man who talks to imaginary little people, but asks Jack who is he talking to, which in an irreverent way, lumps belief in God with the delusions of the mentally ill.

There is screaming by a man that interrupts their discussion. He has been knocked over by affluent types (again class disparity is stressed) riding horses. Jack wants to let it go, but Parry, again modeling decency for Jack, says Mother Teresa has retired, so they have to pitch in. The man (Michael Jeter), in response to Jack’s leaning toward leaving, says don’t worry, he’ll be fine bleeding in horse excrement, adding “How very Gandhi-esque of you.” He is able to be funny despite his circumstances. They take him to a hospital emergency room crammed with the casualties of society, where Parry tries to fight the misery of the wounded and demented by singing. (The shot of Jack holding the man reminds one of the Pieta by Michelangelo, with Jack the unlikely nurturing figure he must become). The man they rescued says he was a cabaret singer, (another instance of the need for harmony symbolized by referencing music) but has fallen on hard times since all of his friends have died, which probably refers to the AIDS epidemic. His story points to more evidence of the neglect the nation had towards marginal groups in America during the early HIV era.
Jack, still sticking with Parry, hoping to pay his “fine,” waits with him for Lydia in crowded Grand Central Station, where the homeless are shoved to the sides of the building as the rest of the citizens rush past them, literally and figuratively leaving them behind. The commuters are doing what Jack is trying to do, drop some money in the cups of beggars to dispel their societal guilt. When a coin misses the cup of a war veteran in a wheelchair, Jack says the donor didn’t even look at the man. The veteran says, “He’s paying so he don’t have to look.” By donating a little money, the passerby purchases an exemption from having to face the inequities in society that might cause him to feel he must do something about them. The veteran says that he is like a “traffic light,” because someone at work will think twice about defying his condescending boss when he realizes his life is better than the crippled bum on the street. The thrust here is that the penalty for not compromising oneself in the capitalist game is severe.
Parry sees Lydia in the train station crowd and she is preceded by several nuns (hinting at her saving powers?). She passes by him and then, in Parry’s mind, all of the people begin to dance a waltz, showing how, to him, she has magical powers to bring people together. The usually clumsy Lydia glides effortlessly through the crowd. For Parry and the injured cabaret singer in the park, music symbolizes the need to bring everyone together to remedy a discordant world. The harmony is transient, as the clock strikes five pm, and the spell is broken, like midnight in the Cinderella tale, and there is noisy, frenetic movement again. Meanwhile, in a scene that is in counterpoint to Parry’s romantic daydream, Annie sits alone at a dinner table waiting for Jack. She complains to an empty chair, which is supposed to contain Jack, about how she has had it with his lack of being there for her. (There are several times in the film where people speak to no one, showing the need to connect to others).

It’s nighttime, and Jack and Parry are back in Central Park. Jack is worried that they can get killed there at night. Parry, in contrast, is free from fear, and gets naked, looks at the night spy, and hopes to bust up clouds by staring at them. Parry again appears liberated and Jack is full of negativity. Jack starts to leave in frustration, venting into the air about Parry’s behavior. Parry asks him again who is he talking to, as the line between being crazy and sane is blurred. Jack submits to lying down, but stays clothed. However, he still goes to the dark side by hypothesizing about how they both will be murdered, and the press will note he was next to a naked guy, which will increase the sales of his biography since the media loves sleazy situations (another example of Jack’s self-absorption). Parry notes Jack’s pessimism, with a bit of an understatement, when he says, “you don’t seem like a happy camper.”

Parry then relates his version of the Fisher King story. He says it starts with the King as a boy in the forest to spend a night alone to prove his courage that would make him fit to be a regent. He gets a vision of the Holy Grail surrounded by fire, the “symbol of God’s divine grace.” He hears a voice that tells him, “You shall be keeper of the Grail so that it may heal the hearts of men.” Unfortunately, the boy was “blinded” by thinking about a life “filled with power and glory and beauty.” He feels “invincible,” like a god, and reaches into the fire (there it is again) that houses the Grail. The Grail then vanishes, and he is burned by the fire. As he became older, the wound grew deeper. Life for him lost its “reason,” and he has no faith in anyone, even himself. He couldn’t experience love. “He began to die.” A fool wanders in, not realizing he was speaking to a king, and asks what does the man want. The king says he needs some water. The fool takes a cup, fills it with water, and the king drinks. The king finds that it heals his wound, and realizes the cup he holds is the Holy Grail. He asks the fool how did he find it, and the fool says he does not know. He only knew that the King was thirsty. The story could relate to Jack, since he was arrogant and only sought worldly gain for himself, and Parry could be considered the “fool” who saves him. But, in the movie, the good deed must be reciprocated, and Jack must also help Parry. The story points to the healing power of compassion.

Parry says he heard the Fisher King story at a lecture once, and he starts to say it was at Hunter College. Just as he about to have a breakthrough to reality, he imagines seeing the Red Knight again, spouting that hellfire, which scares him back into the protection of his mental fortress. Jack diverts him by asking why he hasn’t asked Lydia for a date. Parry says he hasn’t earned the right, which fits in with the knightly code of chivalry he has adopted. Jack says that she can help him get the Grail because the love of a woman “keeps you going, gives you strength, and makes you feel like you can do anything.” Parry asks Jack is that what his girlfriend does for him, and Jack says “sure.” Parry can see Jack is not sincere in his expressed happiness, so he recalls the Pinocchio doll that Jack gave him, by pretending to show a growing a long nose, implying that Jack is lying. But, Jack here at least acknowledges the possibility of the power of love.

Jack tells Anne that if he gets Parry and Lydia together things might turn out better for him. Jack has upped his quest for redemption by exchanging his money offer for an attempt at matchmaking. He tries to lure Lydia to the video store by calling her and saying she has won free rentals, even though she tells him she does not have a tape player. She hangs up, so Jack sends the cabaret singer from the park to deliver a singing telegram that she should claim her prize. His thick mustache makes him look like one unattractive drag queen as he loudly sings his song, doing a hilarious Ethel Merman turn, at the office where Lydia works. We again have music as the agent used to bring people together.
Jack has Parry pretend he works at the video store. Lydia is definitely kooky as she is overly critical that she only gets ten free rentals and then knocks over lots of tapes. Parry tries to help her, but she only wants Ethel Merman musicals (which shows she, too, secretly seeks to find a romantic dance partner. The love of music is the key - pun intended - that the outsiders share to connect them with others). Lydia likes Anne’s nails, and Jack gets her to promise to do Lydia’s nails that evening so that there is a chance for her to get close to Parry.

While Parry has some food at Anne’s place, he says that a man would be “crazy” not to want to settle down with her. (He, the supposed insane person, comments on the irrational acts of others). Anne’s response is that “most men are,” which refers to Jack and other males. Anne greets Lydia who walks around the apartment looking ill at ease, touching things, not able to be still. She just seems out of place in a social situation. As Anne does Lydia’s nails, she asks if she is seeing anyone, and Lydia says, “Does it look like I am seeing anyone?” Her response is almost hostile, implying it’s obvious that she isn’t involved, which reveals her lack of self-worth. While Anne prepares Lydia for the “date,” Jack is cleaning up Parry, putting on him some of his own clothes, which he comically shortens by using staples. Parry asks about Jack’s feelings toward Anne, so in a way he is reciprocating Jack’s efforts by urging him toward a committed relationship with Anne. Lydia says to Anne that some people are just meant to be alone, which can be a rationalization that justifies an isolationist lifestyle. She says she doesn’t know how to have a conversation, but Anne, helping her gain confidence, argues that is what they are having.

On the double date, we find out that Lydia works at a romance novel publisher, which explains why she checks those types of books out. She calls them trashy, as did Parry earlier, but now he says that “there’s nothing trashy about romance.” He says that in romance there is passion, imagination, and beauty. And he says that one finds some “wonderful things in the trash,” which he should know about as he has gone through a great deal of refuse. He holds up a tiny chair he made from a soda cap and bobby pins, illustrating how artists take from the everyday and turn the stuff of life into art. Jack earlier said that people are “garbage,” as if they should be discarded, and then he finds Parry whose life Jack  has trashed and who he discovers is worth salvaging.

They have dinner at a Chinese restaurant, since Lydia loves dumplings. Of course Lydia drops the food, and also spills water, coughs on the plates, and belches. Parry grabs a dumpling with his hand, and also drops stuff, some of which he appears to be doing to mimic Lydia’s actions, to make her feel more accepted. The two even play with the food. Anne whispers that the two social misfits are “made for each other. It’s scary, but true.” Parry sings the song that Groucho Marx originated about “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” and the reference to the absurdist humor of the Marx Brothers fits in well with these misfits. As Parry sings, Jack acts more affectionately toward Anne, which maybe shows that helping Parry indeed is also having a positive effect on Jack. Again, music is the positive force that joins people in harmony, as we see the camera pull back and others in the restaurant listen to Parry, becoming part of the musical moment.

The two couples pair off. Jack and Anne are hysterical, laughing at the way the other two played hockey with their food. Anne surprises Jack by quoting the Latin phrase that translates to “love conquers all.” She quickly qualifies it by saying that it doesn’t apply to them. She says that she is very proud of him because he did something good for another person. Jack is complimentary for a change as he tells her that she was “great” and says that he is grateful for her help. They kiss, laugh, and go up to the apartment.

Lydia is so down on relationships that she states unfortunately what many women have experienced. She predicts that Parry, after walking her home, will come up to her apartment, they will get comfortable, he will sleep over, but then will be distant in the morning. They will exchange phone numbers, but he will never call. She will initially be elated but then will feel like dirt. She says why should she put herself through all of this anguish, and runs off. Parry goes after her and says he had no intention of going to her place because he wants something longer lasting than one night. He confesses that he grew fond of her by observing her daily routines, which shows he is willing to put in the time to have a lasting relationship. She sees that he is not just looking for a one-night stand and gives him a kiss.
But the thought of actually being in love again triggers memories of how he lost his last love. The Red Knight appears, the specter that tries to scare him away from any attempt at facing the horror of his past and reintegrating Parry with his real identity, Henry Sagan, so he can move forward. There are bloody images of his wife being killed (the red of the blood is mirrored in the color of the Red Knight), and Parry runs through the streets, fleeing from the memory of that terrible night. His mental illness is depicted in an image of the arms of the oversized borrowed jacket flapping around him, resembling a straitjacket. He flees to the same spot where he met Jack. The vigilantes show up with the shadow of the Red Knight behind them. As one whips out a knifes, Parry substitutes the Red Knight slashing at him with his sword. The men beat him, and Parry offers no resistance as he wants to die rather than relive the horror of the massacre.

Jack feels that he has been released from his guilt based on what he has done for Parry. He calls his agent, who says that Jack can get back into radio if that’s what he wants. Anne is thrilled that he will be working again, and thinks that they can look for a better place to live together. But Jack still hasn’t learned the lesson of true altruism. He still views life as a way to benefit himself. He saw his time with Anne as just a halfway house experience, a temporary place for him to crash, literally and figuratively. He used her and now wants to be on his own to concentrate on his career again, “now that everything’s taken care of,” except for Anne’s feelings. She loves him and is devastated.

Jack then gets a call from the hospital because he gave Parry his wallet to pay for the dinner. Although Parry was beaten, the real problem is that he has fallen back into his catatonic state. The doctor says he will be transferred to the mental institution after the hospital discharges him. Jack does try to make an effort to say he is family, but the doctor says that might allow Parry to be discharged to him, but Jack would not be equipped to care for him. Anne says that Lydia found her prince and now he’s fallen into a coma. It’s sort of a gender reversal of the “Sleeping Beauty” story. She says with bitterness, “some women have no luck,” which includes her. She walks away and Jack says, “I’ll call you,” the phrase that Lydia notes men say when they have no intention of getting in touch.

Jack is back in his arrogant capitalistic saddle, doing a radio show, and he is negotiating other projects, as we wear his theme song, “I Got the Power,” showing how music can also expose the egoism that separates instead of joining people. After exiting a limo, the cabaret singer from the park recognizes Jack and calls out to him, a kind of reminder of how Jack has discarded those that helped him during his tough time. A TV executive (John de Lancie) pitches Jack a tasteless “comedy” about the homeless that will not be depressing, he says, but funny and upbeat. It will have “wacky and wise’ homeless people who are “happy” because “they love the freedom, the adventure” of their situation. So, the thrust here is to cash in on those who are destitute, and make it look okay to exploit them by falsely showing how much they actually have going for them. Jack has seen the homeless, and he knows that they are not happy people. He is so upset about the project that he runs out of the office.

Jack goes to Parry’s boiler room abode and looks at Parry’s book about the Holy Grail. He picks up the Pinocchio doll and brings it to the mental hospital where Parry is a patient. Lydia is there, but doesn’t see Jack, as she talks to an attendant about items she has brought, indicating that she has been a regular visitor to see Parry. Jack places the doll on the bed near the catatonic Parry. Jack argues with himself even though he appears to be talking to the unresponsive Parry (another example of someone not able to converse with another, but here, it’s like a soliloquy, as Jack tries to deal with his internal conflicts). Jack says things have been great, he’s getting a cable show, and has a gorgeous girlfriend. He says he’s not going to do it, he’s not “God” and can’t magically fix things. He is, of course, talking about getting the cup that Parry thought is the Holy Grail. He tries to convince himself that many people have problems but still survive, and it’s easier for Parry to just sit there, in “his comfortable little coma.” But, if he wants to know what hard is, Jack says, “Try being me.” Despite his regained success, it feels empty to him now that he has seen the suffering of others that he helped bring about. He admits to feeling like he has “nothing,’ because what he does have is all superficial. He finally has his epiphany. He says if he does get the cup he’ll not be doing it because he “felt cursed or guilty or responsible.” Those are selfish motives. He says if he does it, “it’s because I want to do this for you.” The unselfish act is the one that is truly a worthy one.
The next image is the castle-like home of the rich person, the one, in a Robin Hood-like act, who must have his treasure taken to help the less fortunate. Jack is wearing Parry’s coat and hat as he participates in the knightly scaling of the fortress. He confronts a stained glass window that resembles the Red Knight, as we hear the horse winnowing, showing how Jack’s life is, to use the musical metaphor, now in sync with that of Parry’s. He even comments that he hears the horse, showing how he is sharing Parry’s hallucination. As he grabs the cup, he notices that the old man who owns the place appears to have taken some pills and may have fallen into a stupor or even has died. Does the man who held the power have to sleep in order for the victim of society to awake?  Jack goes to the mental ward and puts the cup in Parry’s hands, and eventually falls asleep at the foot of the bed. Parry’s hands start to move, stroking the cup. He opens his eyes, and Jack, who has his head turned away from Parry, also has his eyes open. They have become awake both spiritually as well as physically. Parry says he had a dream about being married to a beautiful woman, and asks, “Can I miss her now?”  So his unconscious, repressed past, is now breaking through to his conscious state, and he is ready to now deal with his loss. He thanks Jack for making it possible.

The next day, Lydia visits the mental hospital and is astonished to find Parry’s bed empty. He has been resurrected and he is leading the other patients, in what else, a song, spreading his melodic happiness to others. He and Lydia embrace, and Jack takes his place, leading the group, showing how they all are joined by the music and lyrics. Parry and Lydia’s love is contagious, and Jack realizes he truly loves Anne, now knowing that standing by someone when they are suffering is the real expression of love. After he tells her that he loves her, she smacks him for putting her through it. But then they passionately kiss, knocking over the videos, mirroring Lydia and Parry’s first encounter.

The film concludes with Jack and Parry in the park at night, both now naked, liberated from their mental prisons, looking at the sky. Jack asks, per their previous nighttime park encounter, if he is making the clouds move. Parry asks if Jack is “crazy,” which is funny given Parry’s history, and says it’s due to the wind, of course. His fanciful life as Parry has now mingled with the real-life experience of Henry Sagan. The film ends with, what else, the two of them singing, “How about You?” They look at the skyline of New York and there is a magical movie ending as the lights of the city illuminate and fireworks burst in the air as the fearful fire has been replaced by joyful illumination.

After a week off, the next film is Charly.