Nuts offers great psychological insight into the motivations of people who are found in unpleasant circumstances.
Leslie Nilson's mother abused him and he tried to kill Barbra Streisand and Barbara Streisand's Father molested her and she became a prostitute (because being molested probably makes you feel worthless over-time and not in control of your own body and actions--abuse effects everyone differently).
At any rate Leslie Neilson's character intersected with Barbara Streisand's character and Leslie Neilson's character is murdered.
Everyone has the potential to be nuts . . . and this movie examines some of the reasons leading up to NUTTY behavior.
Originally a play before being adapted into a film written by Tom Topor who also provided the screenplay about a self- employed escort (Barbara Steisand) being tried for an insanity plea for killing one of her clients! While the prosecutors are trying to keep her there, she's trying to prove that she is fit to stand on trial and beat these charges out for the charge of manslaughter in the first degree! Richard Dreyfuss, entertaining as always as Aaron Levinsky working as 'Legal Aid' appointed by the State to represent and defend her!
Although, I've this film before, seeing this film again made me realize how annoying and obnoxious the Barbara Steisand character can really be, but the story with the direction from Martin Ritt did a fine job handling it!
2.5 out of 4
In another first-rate performance, Richard Dreyfuss plays the stunningly durable Levinsky. With infectious charm, he unearths some bleak skeletons from her cupboard, and in turn from those of Claudia's stepfather, her mother and her psychiatrist. This credentially surefire film, for awhile, seems like a plucky movie with an unpleasant lead who intractably defies bowing to the agendas, neuroses, or desires of anybody else. But by the end of Nuts, when the case has been decided, there's an unshakable sentiment of tackiness, that the antagonists were trumped-up sitting ducks the script contrives to be taken lying down. If all of psychiatry had been this undemanding, Freud wouldn't have been needed to invent it. The Brothers Grimm would've already taken care it for us.
But regardless, the unraveling of those details is executed so well. At the helm of such masterpieces of delicate subtlety and sensitivity like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Pete 'n' Tillie and The Front, Martin Ritt is efficient with the technique of the flashback that expands step by step, showing but an instant of a past event, then a little more, then ultimately the entire event. Two distinct bathroom sequences are divulged in this manner, one surrounding Claudia as a little girl, the other her brutal confrontation with her victim. Nuts culminates like a Broadway musical, but otherwise it's an absorbing character study, cadenced like a fine thriller. Ritt has always undoubtedly been a performer's director with a predilection towards oppressed female protagonists. Sally Field's Norma Rae, Patricia Neal in Hud.
Supported by a dignified cast, Streisand and Dreyfuss pair for the first time, but they work together like practiced dancers. He spins her and she laps up the ovation. And that's not uncommon for the controlling Streisand, who characteristically holds the fort on all her projects, but whether it's Streisand or Stallone, supremacy on a movie set only achieves either profundity or chaos. Eli Wallach is entertaining arcane as the psychiatrist. Stapleton is deeply felt, if way too broad, as the feeble mother, with Malden fluently overtaking his Am Ex stamp as Claudia's stepfather. Leslie Nielsen is every prostitute's dread as the client who insists upon and gets more than has been agreed to.
In the opening scenes, we are submerged in the dark-light worlds of the robotizing single-file lines and pencil-pushing procedures of the womens' prison and the crowded, busy courtroom. Director of photography Andrzej Bartkowiak's camera-work begins us in a stark rhythm and atmosphere. But unfortunately, Nuts is below the summation of its memorable parts. Regardless of all its strong suits, it's ultimately ineffective and vain inside. No matter their cred, Ritt, Bartkowiak, screenwriter Alvin Sargent never entirely follow through with their ultimate intent, setting inner integrity against social facades to compel us to determine what it truly means to be crazy.