An American Fellini?

That was Mel Brooks’s tweet on the death last night of director Paul Mazursky: Paul Mazursky- one of the most talented writer/dir.’s to ever make movies- died today. He was our American (Italian director Federico) Fellini. I will miss him dearly.

Setting aside differences of time and place, it’s a shrewd epitaph.

Andrew Patner puts it well: Paul Mazursky, in many ways the ultimate surface director-screenwriter of the surface aspects of the late 1960s and the 1970s … Recalling just the titles of his movies brings back the bourgeois quasi-daring of the period that both fascinated and defined him: After doing the screenplay for the 1968 Peter Sellers “hippie” vehicle, “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!” (complete with the famous brownies), Mazursky went on to direct and write/co-write “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” (1969), “Alex in Wonderland” (1970), “Blume in Love” (1973), “Harry and Tonto” (1974), “Next Stop, Greenwich Village” (1976), “An Unmarried Woman” (1978), “Moscow on the Hudson” (1984), “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (1986), and three others before making “Enemies: A Love Story”… A pitch-perfect, hilarious, serious, poignant adaptation of a lesser-known 1966 Isaac Bashevis Singer novel about a Holocaust survivor and refugee (Ron Silver) in New York who learns that he has three wives (including Anjelica Houston and Lena Olin)…. While so many of his movies focused on wife-swapping, affairs, and abandonment of spouses, Mazursky himself was married to the same woman, his first wife, for 61 years. She, a daughter, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild survive him.

enemies a love story

Fellini? Not far off… Superficiality turned into art.

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  • Fellini? Huh? Mazursky made a few pretty good movies, but I see no comparison between him and Fellini, not as far as quality, originality, inventiveness, scope of work, and influence on other film makers and cinema in general are concerned. They aren’t even in the same universe.

  • It was nice of Mel Brooks to praise his late friend and colleague so highly, but he really overdid it in this case. It is not at all certain that any American moviemaker can be compared meaningfully to the great Federico Fellini, but even if a few of them do qualify, Paul Mazursky – a talented director who made several very fine movies – would nevertheless not be near the top of that short list.

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