Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Paul Mazursky, 1930-2014

I just now noticed the death of director Paul Mazursky, who has died at the age of 84. I didn't realize that Mazursky started as an actor, but according to the obituary, Mazursky played one of the students in the Glenn Ford film Blackboard Jungle. I think the movie I'll always remember Mazursky for is Harry and Tonto, in which Art Carney plays a widower in early 1970s New York City who decides to visit one of his sons out west... but has to take his cat Tonto with him. Harry's adventures with the cat lead to his developing a new outlook on life and to everybody who meets the two of them learning a bit too about how even old people have something to offer us. Art Carney won the Best Actor Oscar for his uplifting portrayal.

Mazursky directed Jill Clayburgh to a Best Actress Oscar nomination for the 1978 movie An Unmarried Woman, which is a better movie than I would ever give it credit for, although my negative views about it are really more that it's not my type. When I was six years old it sounded like such a grown-up movies, and it is. But I'm also a man, and when I finally decided to watch it back in the old days when the Fox Movie Channel ran older movies 24 hours a day, I could only sit through it up to the point where the Clayburgh character starts telling her shrink about having her first menstrual period. Yeah, that's what I really want to watch a movie about. Not that this is Mazursky's fault, of course.

Mazursky was a guest programmer on TCM, I think back in the November 2007 month of guest programmers. I distinctly recall his comments on King Kong. He said he watched it with a friend of his when they were about 10 years old. During one key sequence -- I think the one where Kong kills the dinosaur -- the effects caused his friend to throw up all over the movie theater floor. Gee, thought Mazursky. If movies can make my friend do this, then I want to make movies that make people do things like this!

No comments: