1h 53min | Comedy, Drama | 22 October 1969 (France)
Abraham is a Puerto Rican single parent with two boys. He is becoming very worried about them living in their run down neighborhood when one day he notices that Cubans who escape are lionized and given exceptional benefits. He thinks up a plot to have his sons washed ashore as cuban immigrants who will be adopted by rich anglos.
Alan Arkin plays a Puerto Rican widower in New York’s Spanish Harlem who works several different jobs to provide for himself and his two pre-teen boys; Rita Moreno is a tootsie who comes around once in a while for a roll in the sack (to show us that Popi is a man with needs–why else is she there?). Character piece, written by Tina and Lester Pine, is an undemanding showcase for Arkin’s talents; he’s likable and convincing with the kids, but in most scenes is forced to overplay like a madman, not just shouting but ranting cartoonishly. It’s to Arkin’s credit that he never comes off as a clown–he’s even tolerable talking directly to the camera–yet Arthur Hiller’s direction is of very little help. The film has interesting slum-neighborhood atmosphere and details, but Hiller isn’t concerned with realism, and never gets his hands dirty. Take for example the opening credits sequence, which has the two boys leaping and playing in slow-motion in a cemetery just after visiting their mother’s grave. Fittingly, the basis for a later TV sitcom.
Director: Arthur Hiller
Writers: Tina Pine, Lester Pine
Stars: Alan Arkin, Rita Moreno, Reuben Figueroa