Al is ripe for change. As a dutiful husband and father, after putting in ten years as a psychologist, Al is feeling short changed. Watching "The Godfather" elicits admiration for the mob's power, power he wishes he had in his life. He is taken for granted by his Linda, his wife and ignored by his children. Even Marty, Al's therapist, yawns during Al's "poor me" session. But when Al leaves Marty's office, the seemingly benign, supportive Marty makes a phone call that catapults Al into his new life.

Marty had been a shrink for Herb Cohen, mob boss. Marty provided individual and bereavement counseling as well as groups for compulsive killers for Cohen and his men. Although Marty knows too much, is burned out and wants out, Herb needs an adviser and won't let go. With a phone call Marty gives him Al. Marie Ann, Herb's wife, appears at Al's office the following day as a new patient with concocted problems and proceeds to turn Al's life around. Eventually Marie reveals what her husband does for a living, a recitation of Herb's business including details of the usual mayhem, rackets, deals, murders past and planned, that leaves Al terror stricken because, as he realizes, now he knows too much.

Herb makes an unscheduled appearance at Al's office the next day not only to "thump his chest" to intimidate Al, but also to begin the process of seducing Al into the family. Herb didn't realize that not much seduction is needed, that Al was looking for a "fix" for his mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, Al get more than he bargained for. Herb "invites" Al to join him and Marie on a jaunt to Las Vegas while he decides Al's fate. Herb sees the trip as central to the seduction. Al sees the trip as an invitation to visit his final resting place.

While Herb introduces Al to the world of power and tries to make Al his consiglieri, Al comes to realize the mob's power is terrifying when seen close up and personal. He comes to recognize his misplaced values. Because Al is a shrink, he uses his understanding of Herb and Marie, and his training to turn the tables and escape back to his patient family, chastened, but wiser.

Claire Gray, an art dealer, travels to Paris to purchase a Picasso painting. While there, Aaron, a man who has devoted his life to hunting down ex-Nazis, confronts her. Through Aaron, Claire learns that the painting is being sold by an ex-Nazi SS officer who had stolen it during the war. She also discovers a past hidden from her by her grandparents: that she comes from a Jewish family and that, ironically, her family was a victim of this same Nazi. Claire not only is instrumental in the capture of the Nazi officer, but also is propelled on a journey of self-discovery and self-renewal.

Tom Anderson, a respected TV evangelist in New England, is entering a period of intense crisis. Overwhelmed by work, rejected by his wife, pressured by unrecognized sexual impulses, he is on the verge of collapse. Anderson attempts to cope with his now wildly chaotic hidden life by trying to strike a "perfect balance" between conflicting, impulses, by measuring out his life rather than living it. It is his attempt to live by an ineffective ideal rather than accept his reality that proves disastrous.

Anderson's descent into a personal hell occurs during a week's vacation to "unwind." There, Anderson's rigid life is immediately confronted by an exotic landscape on an isolated resort island filled with people with ill-defined motives. To compound Anderson's ordeal, the island is being ravaged by cholera, a fact denied by the authorities, but which is decimating the population, eventually infecting Anderson. Reeling from unfamiliarity and uncertainty of his surroundings, his health serious compromised, Anderson's previous exalted position in life, his pulpit, means nothing here. Ultimately he must deal with the potential of facing an indifferent, hostile world, without his usual armor.

The critical event occurs at the resort hotel, where Anderson encounters Gustave, an angelic adolescent boy about whom he gradually becomes obsessed. Placed within the maelstrom of his deteriorating mental and physical health, Anderson's fixation, although never reciprocated, leads to his rejection of his wife, his friends, his religious values and ultimately to his death.

Morris and his brother-in-law Maxie have a nice little business, one they hope to pass down to their kids. No, not manufacturing dresses. Their business includes numbers, selling stolen bearer bonds, skimming the tables in Atlantic City, and, if necessary, murder.

Morris's son Davey wants to grow up to be just like his dad: planning jobs, fondly reminiscing about Murder Incorporated, eating Chinese food. When he is finally taken into the business, it doesn't quite work out they way they had planned. See, Davey is a bumbler. He robs the wrong places, loses bearer bonds to a strong wind and, on a hit, the wrong guy gets killed. Add that Davey is floundering in his marriage to Barbara and we have a nice Jewish boy in early mid-life crisis. But no matter how badly Davey screws up, Morris and his wife Sylvia try to help their son through the hardships of "finding himself."

While their values might be questioned, no one can doubt their closeness, allegiance, and cohesion as a caring, loving family. Now if only the family can understand that apprentices make mistakes, Davey would be a happier man. On the other hand, maybe he should have taken his mother advice and been an accountant.

Allen Katz is having a difficult summer of '57. In fact, at the age of nineteen, he has, by his account, had a difficult life. Neither his parents, nor his flock of Freudians, nor bevy of behaviorist psychologists, nor his closest friends quite understand his angst. But if life, as Allen would put it, were a wheel, then his wheel has a flat tire.

Allen's summer of '57 is a summer of quest, a quest to discover himself. His picaresque search takes him through jobs in the alien garment district of New York, at an Atlantic Ocean cabana club on Long Island, at a Catskill Mountain hotel, and finally, home where he always was.

As a child Allen was honest, loyal, obedient and accommodating. Unfortunately he still is and the world, in the guise of his closest friend, Mel knows a sucker when it sees one. It isn't until Allen screws up in all possible modes of experience that he comes home to discover himself.

In 1936, as the Nazi government was tightening its hold on German Jews drastically curtailing their freedoms, Curt Bondy, a high school teacher in Hamburg, was offered the opportunity to establish an agricultural work camp in Breslau for many of his teenage students. The camp was Gross-Breesen. This is the story of Bondy and the children he saved.

For Bondy, life as the camp director was an endless series of negotiations with the Nazis whose ultimate goal was to quickly ship the children anywhere as long as they left Europe. It was Bondy’s goal to make sure he held on to the children until they were ready to lead independent, productive lives in their new home lands.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks as many of the elderly campers meet sixty years later in Israel to commemorate Bondy and their camp experience. It was their fortune they were able to be re-settled around the world, from Israel to Australia to the United States. Some came to the reunion with their children, some with luggage stuffed with family photos. All came with rich memories of their experience.

After his wife dies, Murray, a retired Catskill comic, decides to change his burial plot, to be buried instead with his long time mistress. While Murray's decision at first angers his family, it also forces them to reconsider their own troubled lives. Howard, his eldest, is in a floundering marriage. Brenda, his youngest, has unrealistic expectations about the men in her life. Allen, a CPA, wants to turn in his pencil and become a clown.

But this family is bound by comedy and love. In the end not only do they come to accept Murray, his new love and his new burial plot, but Howard's marriage improves, Brenda embarks on a realistic relationship, and Allen gives up his fright-wig and becomes Dean Martin.

Hank, a father of two teenage boys, tells his sons in flashback of his own thirteenth summer, when he was in the throes of several adolescent conflicts involving loyalty to family and accommodation to tribal values. Hank attempts to pass along the lessons learned from these conflicts.

As a thirteen year old, Hank was a passionate baseball fan, as was his friends. It was 1954 in the Bronx and, as with any tribe, its members were expected to follow the bearers of the tribe colors, in this case, the New York Yankees. Joey, a neighborhood kid, had a passion for playing the game that was overshadowed only by his passion for his color-bearing team. Unaccountably his team was the Dodgers.

For Hank and his friends this was a riddle whose only explanation was treason and whose only remedy was ridicule and banishment. But in Joey, Hank saw something else: a boy whose passion and fearlessness made him a better person than he. While trying to decipher the riddle of Joey, Hank was also struggling with his hero-worship of a man other than his father. Because Hank's father's work kept him away from his family too often, Hank filled the void left by his father with, of all people, a TV personality who worked for the Dodgers. Hank's struggle with guilt was two-fold: first for at being angry at his father for what he felt was his father's abandonment, and second, for admiring his TV surrogate in a Dodger uniform.

The emerging adolescent's issues of confused loyalties and developing identity play out on the baseball field and the family living room. They ultimately resolve because of the strength and mutual love of the players.


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