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Paul Mazursky, 1930-2014


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Los Angeles Times obituary

 

One of my favorite movies of his is Harry and Tonto, for which Art Carney won the Best Actor Oscar. It's a wonderful, bittersweet movie about a widower in early 1970s New York (the era just before Ford told the city to drop dead) who winds up going on a cross-country journey with his cat, and along the way, everybody learns that even old people have something to offer. Especially poignant is a scene in which Carney's character looks up his old girlfriend from 50 years earlier, who broke off the relationship to study dancing with Isidora Duncan; more humorous is one when he's hitch-hiking and gets picked up by a hooker.

 

Mazursky was a TCM Guest Programmer, I think back in November of 2007 when TCM had a month of Guest Programmers with a different one every night. One of Mazursky's selections was King Kong, and when Robert Osborne asked him why he selected it, Mazursky responded that he first saw the movie when he was about 10 years old with a friend of his, and during one of the scenes -- I think the one when Kong kills the dinosaur on Skull Island -- Mazursky's friend threw up all over the place. Mazursky decided then that he wanted to make things like that scene that made his friend throw up.

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He made films that defined the decade they were made: "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" in the 1960's. "An Unmarried Woman" in the 1970s. A truly talented director. Sad news.

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I agree about Harry and Tonto.  That movie breaks my heart every time.  Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice is another favorite.  Hell, I even liked Scenes From A Mall.

 

Thank you for posting his obituary.  I'd forgotten he'd made so many good movies that really captured the feeling of the era.

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May he rest in peace. I am such a fan of his work. I remember seeing Harry and Tonto and feeling like this director captured the seventies very well. I saw An Unmarried Woman before Harry and Tonto, and was immediately interested. Great director. Does not get the recognition for his work as he should get. 

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Los Angeles Times obituary

 

One of my favorite movies of his is Harry and Tonto, for which Art Carney won the Best Actor Oscar. It's a wonderful, bittersweet movie about a widower in early 1970s New York (the era just before Ford told the city to drop dead) who winds up going on a cross-country journey with his cat, and along the way, everybody learns that even old people have something to offer. Especially poignant is a scene in which Carney's character looks up his old girlfriend from 50 years earlier, who broke off the relationship to study dancing with Isidora Duncan; more humorous is one when he's hitch-hiking and gets picked up by a hooker.

 

Mazursky was a TCM Guest Programmer, I think back in November of 2007 when TCM had a month of Guest Programmers with a different one every night. One of Mazursky's selections was King Kong, and when Robert Osborne asked him why he selected it, Mazursky responded that he first saw the movie when he was about 10 years old with a friend of his, and during one of the scenes -- I think the one when Kong kills the dinosaur on Skull Island -- Mazursky's friend threw up all over the place. Mazursky decided then that he wanted to make things like that scene that made his friend throw up.

Sad. He was an excellent character actor of late in comedies (those of his friends, I'm guessing), one who was so good it always prompted me to ask me: who is that guy?, until I learned his name.

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I've probably said this before about Harry and Tonto,  but by no means a bad film, it came out the same year as Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Gene Hackman in The Conversation, not to mention great performances that year by Peter Falk, Albert Finney and Erland Josephson.  So Art Carney's oscar that year was preposterous. 

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I've probably said this before about Harry and Tonto,  but by no means a bad film, it came out the same year as Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Gene Hackman in The Conversation, not to mention great performances that year by Peter Falk, Albert Finney and Erland Josephson.  So Art Carney's oscar that year was preposterous. 

 

There has been much preposterousness in the awarding of Oscars - repetitiously. Popularity, politics, marketing strategies, are all often considered above true artistic evaluation.

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I've probably said this before about Harry and Tonto,  but by no means a bad film, it came out the same year as Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and Gene Hackman in The Conversation, not to mention great performances that year by Peter Falk, Albert Finney and Erland Josephson.  So Art Carney's oscar that year was preposterous. 

Well, perhaps not preposterous to Mr. Carney!  

 

Because I like the movie and his performance so much, I looked up the wins and awards for the actors nominated that year.  Dustin Hoffman has two Oscars and was nominated many times.  Albert Finney was nominated five times.  Jack Nicholson has won three times and nominated a whopping twelve times.  Al Pacino has won once and received eight nominations, and has many other awards, as do the others.   

 

Art Carney was nominated for the Oscar once and won.  I have to think his peers thought he deserved it for his low key, charming, funny performance.  Anyway, I don't feel the others were cheated by his win, and just felt I had to come to his defense.  I mean, it wasn't like Pia Zadora winning the Golden Globe... :o

 

By the way, Lenny Bruce's mother, Sally K. Marr, has a nice role near the end of the movie.

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Sorry if I came on a little strong with my Art Carney diatribe, skimpole.  Posting after midnight isn't necessarily a wise idea, for me anyway.  (Yet, here I am....)

 

Today I heard part of an interview on Fresh Air with Paul Mazursky.  I loved the sound of him--funny, smart, a little quirky.  A mensch,  if that be the right word.  

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