Writer-Director Paul Mazursky was responsible for some of the best, and most personal, films of the 1970's. He died yesterday at the age of 84 with 19 films as a director to his credit and 76 as an actor.
In many ways Mazursky was the American Francois Truffaut at his peak with incisive clever, and funny films such as Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice, Harry and Tonto, An Unmarried Woman, Blume In Love, and my personal favorite Next Stop, Greenwich Village. Next Stop was an autobiographical film featuring a brilliant performance by Shelley Winters as the ultimate Jewish mother. Mazursky was known for coaxing career best performances out of a wide range of players, most notably Art Carney, Natalie Wood, and Jill Clayburgh.
In the 1980's Mazursky's films were more comedic and less personal reflecting changes in the movie business but Moscow on the Hudson and Down and Out in Beverly Hills were, uh, LOL funny. In 1989, Mazursky made his final masterpiece Enemies, A Love Story based on a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer featuring, you guessed it, great performances by Anjelica Huston and Borscht Belt comedian Alan King.
Hearing of Mazursky's death gave me a bad case of old fartism. He was one of the stars of the heroic age of Hollywood films from 1966 to 1978 before it came down with a bad case of blockbusteritis. He will be missed.
Here's a link to some of Roger Ebert's reviews of Mazursky's films and a scene from The Sopranos with Mazursky as Sunshine one of the poker sharks. Mazursky is the gent with longish hair, mustache, and glasses who mouths off to dipshit Jackie Junior: