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The Big Dig

     The Big Dig is about an abortive excavation, a mythical one, the tearing up and tunneling of Tel Aviv's busiest intersection in this 1969 Israeli comedy, beautifully restored by the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University. Oy, what has happened to Allenby Street? A crazy man (Bomba Tzur) has escaped a mental institution, located a pneumatic drill, and now digs hole after hole in the pavement, causing traffic havoc. What's the city's reaction? The police, assuming the lunatic is following municipal orders, helps him drill away. Newspapers editorialize, "Every citizen must be thankful for the renovations of the city," and, both hapless, the mayor and head of the roads department (of competing parties) fight to take credit. Trucks and bulldozers join in, as the digging moves perilously toward the sea, and Tel Aviv threatens to turn into Venice. A broad, mostly funny Israeli satire, with writer-director Ephraim Kishon apparently influenced by the Marx Brothers and Blake Edwards's Inspector Clouseau movies.

(July, 2002)


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