Last Thursday brought sad news of the death of Alan Arkin, who had about as full a life as a person in show business can have — acting, writing, and directing, and having kids who acted, wrote, and directed, while always coming across as a mensch.
He did an awful lot, including that memorable role in The In-Laws. (Highlight: Arkin dodges bullets as Peter Falk yells “Serpentine, Shel, serpentine!”) But my personal favorite is a movie called Simon, which was directed in 1980 by Woody Allen associate Marshall Brickman. Simon was not a hit at the time — in fact I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who saw it in a movie theater. But it got a second life on cable, where some of us kids who watched way too much TV ran across it and had our tiny minds blown.
Simon is a work of genius and Arkin is brilliant in it as a philosophy professor who is convinced by a sinister cabal of scientists that he’s from another planet. Bonus, it is like a top-level Woody Allen movie that Woody himself was not involved in, so we don’t have that to worry about. (I don’t know if Marshall Brickman ever adopted any kids, and I don’t want to know.)
By the grace of YouTube, Simon is currently available for home viewing free of charge. If I were you, I’d watch it tonight before that can change.