TFAC presents “The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue”

Published 12:43 pm Friday, December 22, 2017

The 1975 black comedy “The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue” will be shown at Tryon Fine Arts Center on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 7 p.m. The TFAC lobby will open at 6:15 p.m. for an opportunity to get refreshments from the bar and socialize before the movie starts.

Starring Anne Bancroft and Jack Lemmon, “The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue,” which was adapted from Neil Simon’s play of the same name, can be understood as a warning to anyone wanting to move to Manhattan in much the same way as Simon’s “The Out-of-Towners,” but from the point of view of New York insiders.

The story takes place during New York’s annual mid-summer bonanza of stifling heat, power outages and garbage strikes, which, of course, is an ideal setting for comedy. 

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Molly Haskell, of The Village Voice described it as “the exciting teamwork of Lemmon and Bancroft, giving beautiful, throwaway timing to Simon’s relentlessly funny lines, and a sense of inner life to the characters. . .”

Critic Dennis Schwartz said “Lemmon and Bancroft do a good job conveying comedy and in warm performances showing how tough life can get for a middle-class couple dealing with the hassles of city life and their own personal problems.”

The star of this presentation in the TFAC Leading Ladies Film Series, Anne Bancroft, was herself a New Yorker, born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano. In addition to being a method actress in films, television and theater, she was also successful as a director, screenwriter, and singer.

She made her film debut in 1952 in “Don’t Bother to Knock” and won the Academy Award for her role of Helen Keller’s teacher in 1962’s “The Miracle Worker.” She was equally at home in drama and comedy, with outstanding performances as a ballet dancer in “The Turning Point,” as Mother Superior in “Agnes of God” and her never-to-be-forgotten role as the seductive housewife, Mrs. Robinson, in “The Graduate.”

She also starred in several films directed by her husband, Mel Brooks, including “The Elephant Man” and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It.”

Towards the end of her life she received both an Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in the 2003 film “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.”

For more information about this film series and other events at Tryon Fine Arts Center, visit or call 838-859-8322.

– written by Frances Flynn