“I believe in the affirmation of life. If we lose that hope, if we lose the possibility of it, we’ve lost an awful lot.”
Writer/Director Paul Mazursky
Film Comment 1978 Interview
“I never thought, I’m going against the grain, I’m going to inform America about the problem of women, about society, about the bums on the street. I just thought, is this a good story, and can I make it work? The European directors I love really showed me that. You make the movie you want to make, that engages you, the movie that you have to make. They got away with it for a long time. And I guess I did too.”
Oscar and Emmy nominated Paul Mazursky’s died a couple of weeks ago. The career of the producer, director, writer and actor spanned seven decades. I was in film school when his 1982 film Tempest came out and once remember seeing Mazursky walking across W. Olive Ave. in Burbank as I waited at the stoplight next to Warner Bros. Studios. (When you’re 21-years-old and from outside L.A. you don’t forget those Forrest Gump-like moments.)
At that time in his career he already had two Primetime Emmy nominations (The Danny Kaye Show) and four Oscar-nominations (writing Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Harry & Tonto, An Unmarried Woman— the later also was nominated for Best Picture). But some of his more popular films were still to come including Moscow on the Hudson, Enemies, A Love Story, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
As an actor he also worked on a wide variety of films and TV programs; Blackboard Jungle, The Twilight Zone, Antz, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Kung Fu Panda 2.
But when I think of Mazursky, Tempest is what comes to mind first. He directed the film from a script he wrote with Leon Capetanos based on the Shakespeare play. It won the audience award at the 1982 Toronto International Film Festival.
The reason I link Mazursky to that film is not even the film itself that starred John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands and Susan Sarandon (and which just happens to be Molly Ringwald’s big screen debut), but because Mazursky wrote a making of book on the film–fittingly called Paul Mazursky’s Tempest.
Keep in mind that in 1982 there was no Internet so behind the scene books were a key place to get a glimpse into the filmmaking process. I still have my copy of that book. Here’s a couple of shots from the book that may help you in scheduling your film.
The Director’s Guild of America has a video interview of Mazursky online. And here are a couple of videos interviews the Writers Guild of America did with Mazursky did last year.