The Adding Machine
A girl presents a stack of figures, reading them off, he adds them up, twenty-five years of “pushing a pen”.
A floozy he frequents in the apartment building next door is found out by the wife and must be denounced.
He is replaced by the article in the title, “they do the work in an instant and a high school girl can operate ‘em.”
Milo O’Shea, the original Leopold Bloom, for the interior monologues (Billie Whitelaw the girl, Phyllis Diller the wife, Raymond Huntley the boss, etc.).
The Park Avenue murder, “what I can’t figure out is who did it and why!”
Red ink on the tie.
“I killed the boss this afternoon.”
The trial of Mr. Zero.
The State Penitentiary. “I murdered my mother” (Mr. Shrdlu, Julian Glover).
Mrs. Zero. “Live and learn, they say, but how can you if they don’t let you live?”
A Coney Island of the soul. “Abbé Rabelais and Dean Swift.” Thirty years on an adding machine (“they’re gonna raid this place!”), then Sydney Chaplin as the Lieutenant sends him back to Earth, metempsychosis don’t you know. “Well, that’s partly because you’re stupid... even in those days, there was always some bigger and brainier monkey you kowtowed to.” Pyramid builder, galley slave. Super-hyper-adding machine operator. “You poor spineless brainless boob.”
Hope is the girl.
“Insistently, ineptly and pointlessly,” wrote Roger Greenspun of the New York Times, “yesterday is pretty much where it belongs... a bad idea poorly realized... each member of the distinguished cast is in his own way unsuitable... but there is a more serious problem”, and here Greenspun offers his solution, “a liberal arts education and a ticket out of the lower middle classes.” You’d think that was the last word, but the Catholic News Service Media Review Office has “a very dated kind of ideological indignation.”