‘Little Murders’: From Broadway Back to Big Screen

Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould in “Little Murders.”

Since 1967, when “Little Murders” was staged in an off-Broadway theater, Jules Feiffer mesmerized critics with the clever absurdity of his prose.

Set in a nightmarish Manhattan — plagued by daily power outages, escalating violence, racial conflicts and abusive cops — the play follows fashion photographer Alfred Chamberlain, who meets the dysfunctional family of his newest girlfriend, an interior designer who saved him from a mob of local bullies.

Elliot Gould, the first actor to portray Chamberlain on stage, bought the rights for the screen and kept the project in the hands of those closest to the play. Feiffer penned the adaptation and actor Alan Arkin — who directed the first Broadway revival in 1969 — made his feature film directorial debut, which will screen on Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. at the Southampton Arts Center, as part of the “Present Tense” series.

“Little Murders is a JFK post-assassination satiric play, then film, that predicted the breakdown of traditional American institutional safeguards and the random violence and societal insanity that follows,” Feiffer said in a statement. “Why anyone thinks this has any relevance to present-day events, go figure.”

Feiffer will lead a post-film discussion, moderated by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, head of the Sag Harbor Cinema programming committee. Tickets are $15 and $12 for SAC members. For more information, visit sagharborcinema.org.