Synopsis by Mark Deming
Alan Arkin directed and starred in this anarchic comedy. Benny Fikus (Vincent Gardenia) is the owner of a department store that's on its last legs, with his nebbishy son Russell (Rob Reiner) serving as his second-in-command. Benny's bother Ezra (Arkin) used to work with him at the store, but he quit to coach basketball in the midst of a long losing streak. Ezra's wife Marion (Anjanette Comer) desperately wants a child, and Ezra needs a new star player, so he thinks he's helping both of them when he adopts a black teenager (Byron Stewart) who shoots mean hoop. Benny, looking for a way out of the store's irrevocable financial slump, wants to burn the place down for the insurance money, but rather than hire an arsonist, he tries to convince his brother-in-law, Zabbar (Sid Caesar), that the store is actually a Nazi stronghold so Zabbar that will do the deed on his own. The supporting cast also includes Sally K. Marr, whose son was controversial comedian Lenny Bruce.
insurance, arson, con/scam, investigation, department-store, fire, son, store