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David Poland

By David Poland

DP/30: Paul Mazursky

It’s the most epic DP/30 ever. Almost 3 hours covering almost 60 years in show business. From his early career as an actor and stand-up, to a high-profile writing career, working with Peter Sellers and helping create The Monkees, to his career as a writer and director, Paul Mazursky has had truly remarkable career. He made fifteen theatrical releases, starting with the groundbreaking Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, directing Art Carney to an Oscar, delivering perhaps the best movie on the feminist revolution, An Unmarried Woman, making an actor out of Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson, turning Disney around with Down & Out In Beverly Hills, and taking the daring turn of adapting Isaac Bashevis Singer with Enemies: A Love Story.

He’s been Oscar nominated 5 times, 4 of which were for screenwriting. Six times, his actors (Dyan Cannon, Elliott Gould, Art Carney, Jill Clayburgh, Lena Olin, Anjelica Huston) were nominated for Oscar, and Stanley Tucci took home an Emmy & Golden Globe for Winchell. (IN spite of the film winning the Emmy for Best TV Movie, Mazursky wasn’t nominated. He explains why in the interview.)

We shot this all the way back in January. And now, here it is. 5 parts. 3 hours. The life of an artist in his own words. I hope you enjoy it.

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29 Responses to “DP/30: Paul Mazursky”

  1. berg says:

    your legacy will be these awesome video interviews … AS essential as some andrew sarris book with director interviews…. or some Bogdonavich article in TVGuide in 1971

  2. You forgot, “And he’s a friend of mine.”

    Nevertheless, an awesome assemblage of material. Ever tried to get someone else to sit down that long?

  3. sanj says:

    hard to watch – haven’t seen any of this guys films ..

    put up the mp3’s ..

    add some youtube movie trailers ..

    next time try 5 hours of Kim Kardashian … people know who she is … it might drive you crazy but do it for the
    fans .

  4. Hallick says:

    Good morning, Sanj! FUCK those fans.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    Will have to set aside time to watch this after TIFF, but I’m looking forward to it. Not long ago, Blume in Love came up on a Hot Blog thread — we wound up discussing what an under-rated actor George Segal is. I guess you could say something similar about Mazursky as a director. Does he talk about Alex in Wonderland at all? (That one really got pissed away by MGM — it open in New Orleans at drive-ins, on the bottom half of a double bill with Get Carter.) Or Kris Kristofferson? KK recently told me that one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do in a movie is break down and cry after punching George Segal in Blume.

  6. berg says:

    doesn’t Kubrick use a clip from Blume in Love in Eyes Wide Shut? (Kidman is watching it on television)

  7. David Poland says:

    Yes, berg. And there is a clip of Bob & Carol in Friends With Benefits this summer.

    Kris – Not sure what out friendship has to do with it, but I didn’t intend this to be 3 hours. I shot Norman Jewison for about 2 hours last year. Figured this one would be about the same. Shot an hour with Joel Schumacher and am hoping to get another hour to finish his list of films.

    The idea of doing entire careers came from Jeff Bridges, actually, on Crazy Heart. He said at one point, “I have a story for every movie I’ve done.” And I thought, “Good idea.”

    I’ll do more of these. Just need the right talent. They have to be able and willing to tell stories and have a long enough history that they have history, not just a couple of great films.

    Maybe I’ll be able to talk Francis Coppola into it. That would make me happy. Spielberg and Bill Goldman remain elusive.

  8. palmtree says:

    Coppola would be amazing!

  9. skycapitan says:

    Goldman would be awesome to get. Why so elusive?

  10. berg says:

    leydon, i would not wait like two weeks to watch this, all two hours and 40 minutes … I knocked it out between 5 pm. and 10 pm. today, I know you are a busy dude (how was the Lastros game yesterday) …. “I’m gonna kill that fucking goat”

  11. LexG says:

    Definite YES to more Joel Schumacher. One of my favorite DP/30s ever. I don’t care what anyone says about his movies, he’s one of the funniest and most infectious raconteurs in the biz.

    I also realize they’re not current hot properties, but I could also listen to Landis or Carpenter all day long and never be bored.

  12. scootrzz says:

    dp — in conjunction with the blu-ray release of ‘animal house’, landis did a full three (very entertaining) hours on ‘kevin pollak’s chat show’ a couple of weeks ago… this might be the time to pounce on that…
    you’ve totally knocked it outta the park with this and the jack larson vids ….

  13. yancyskancy says:

    I saw the Pollak/Landis interview — definitely second scootrzzz’s recommendation.

    Dave, how about Joe Dante?

  14. LexG says:

    I brought up this non-conspiracy theory elsewhere, but is Landis’ memory foggy when he claims Hitchcock was all grumpy about “Dressed to Kill”? He talks about Hitch griping about DePalma being christened his heir in the “reviews”… but the movie was released a couple months after Hitchcock died. Yeah, it’s possible he saw an early cut, but Landis talks about it like this happened a year or so before Hitchcock got sick, so it’s highly unlikely that AH was fuming about DTK or its critical reception in 1979. Given the timetables and how Landis talks about how they were both lunching on the Uni lot, is it not possible he means they were buds during, say, the Obsession or even Sisters era? Was Hitch still on the Uni lot taking in screenings in spring 1980?

  15. Rob says:

    This was great, but I wish he’d dished a little on Faithful, which seemed like a really troubled project.

  16. yancyskancy says:

    Good catch, Lex. It never occurred to me to check the Hitch/DTK timeline. Most showbiz anecdotes need to be taken with a grain of salt. But yeah, giving Landis the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible he had the conversation about another De Palma film, or De Palma’s work in general, but ascribed it to the wrong film.

    Memory is a funny thing. On a Facebook page about growing up in my hometown, half the threads went like this:

    Hey, anybody remember that pool hall downtown?
    Yes, the Rack and Cue.
    No, I think it was Buddy’s.
    That was before the Rack and Cue.
    Who owned that? Wasn’t it Joe Blow?
    No, his brother John Blow had it, rest his soul.
    John Blow’s still alive. I saw him last week.
    Oh, I must be thinking of John Glow, who had the lamp shop.
    Jim Glow had the lamp shop. He died in that big fire in ’98.
    It wasn’t a fire; it was a flood.
    Etc., ad infinitum.

  17. Maxim says:

    Have you ever done one of these with Richard Linklater? He would be a perfect choice for a career overview, IMO.
    Ridley Scott and Miyazaki, too ;).

    If ever get a chance to do one with Spielberg, don’t talk about his past projects. Instead, ask him for a status update on Interstallar. In fact, do an hour talk about what he wants to do with that movie.

    It would also be really really cool if you got another hour with Michael Kahn. And Rick Carter, too.

  18. David Poland says:

    I was supposed to shoot Miyazaki when he was here for the last release… didn’t quite happen. Not happy.

    Ridley would be great.

    I feel like I have to fall in love with Linkater’s work again before digging in with him for a full career retrospective.

    Landis was supposed to be shot a few weeks ago, but apparently, Kevin wore him out.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    Talk about faulty memory: A while back, on another thread, we were talking about Burt Reynolds, and I mentioned seeing Operation C.I.A (Reynolds’ first star vehcile) back in the day. Well — and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this — but I misremembered. I actually somehow mashed up in my memory about three different movies — Impasse (which I did see), A Yank in Viet-Nam (ditto) and Operation C.I.A. (nope). D’oh.

  20. berg says:

    i want to see a film from 1963 that doesn’t exist anymore called JOHNNY COOL … I read the paperback, about a killer from Italy who comes to America and starts killing his way to the top of the mob (NYC, Vegas, LA) … the cast includes Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery

  21. Not David Bordwell says:

    JOHNNY COOL is currently in rotation on THIS, a network that runs chopped-up versions of old movies with commercial interruption. Some of the older movies are well worth seeing even in this format, because you’d never rent them or think to rent them, and they are unlikely to be screened any time soon. I recently saw THE BIG KNIFE that way, and was glad I did.

    I don’t know if there’s a station (or digital sister station) near you that runs THIS, but in Chicago it’s one of WCIU’s digital subchannels, and the next showing is August 27 at 4:00.


    ETA: here’s the list of affiliates

  22. Joe Leydon says:

    NDB: I noticed that on THIS in my market, too. And my goodness, wasn’t Elizabeth Montgomery a leggy little vixen back before Bewitched?

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Also speaking of THIS: I had no idea they actually produced a sequel to Deadlier Than the Male until I saw it was programmed here.

  24. scootrzz says:

    ‘johnny cool’ is also available on netflix streaming…

  25. scootrzz says:

    ‘Landis was supposed to be shot a few weeks ago, but apparently, Kevin wore him out’

    a shame…your take would probably have been a bit more interesting than pollak’s (ums, hmmms and yeahs notwithstanding)…

  26. scootrzz says:

    jftr — ‘johnny cool’ is delightfully horrible…(the emphasis on ‘horrible’)…great stuff…

  27. scootrzz says:

    ‘when you are hungry enough to eat goat droppings, we will give you salt fish’…
    i LOVE ‘johnny cool’…

  28. yancyskancy says:

    THE BIG KNIFE is streaming on Netflix, too.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon