CAST AS JUDGE IN 'CARLITO'S WAY'; WAS DE PALMA'S ORIGINAL CHOICE FOR 'DTK' DETECTIVE
Paul Mazursky, film director, screenwriter, and actor, has died of pulmonary cardiac arrest. He was 84. Mazursky was a longtime, good friend of Brian De Palma's. In the early 1980s, Mazursky lived in one apartment of a duplex in Greenwich Village, while De Palma and his wife, Nancy Allen, lived in the other apartment. When De Palma was casting Dressed To Kill, he had wanted Mazursky to portray Detective Marino. However, Mazursky was busy preparing his next film, and Dennis Franz took the part instead.
Mazursky, of course, did end up acting for De Palma about a decade later, portraying Judge Feinstein in Carlito's Way. In Richard Sylbert and Sylvia Townsend's book Designing Movies: Portrait of a Hollywood Artist, Gregory Bolton, who was the art director on Carlito's Way, recalls shooting the courtroom scene. "It was interesting," he tells Townsend, "because there was Brian De Palma, Paul Mazursky, and there was Al Pacino, all those people in that room, all powerful forces, all directing the scene. And Dick (Sylbert) sat back and we all sat back and watched each person direct the scene, wondering who was going to win." Bolton tells Townsend that after "going all different ways," De Palma's was the way it ended up.
Writing in 2003, Movie City News' Leonard Klady relayed a story from the fall of 1990 in which "Brian De Palma arrived for breakfast and greeted [Farmers] Market regular Paul Mazursky with a query about Disney's decision to postpone the release of Mazursky's upcoming movie. A rather vague story had appeared in the trades the prior week announcing that Scenes from a Mall would open in early 1991 rather than in the fall of 1990.
"It was clear that Mazursky had been exhausted by the process of finishing the comedy with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, screening and test screening it, tweaking it and arguing the finer points with senior production executives at the studio. He let out a sigh and told De Palma and the table that the film had scored well with audiences. It was testing in the high 70s but the folks at the studio wanted it to score in the 80s.
"When he finished, De Palma let out a hardy cackle (he has a very distinctive laugh) and when he recovered said, 'you're lucky.' He went on to explain that his new picture, according to the marketing people at Warner Bros., had scored the lowest of any major release in the studio's history. He said it tested at about 55% and didn't see how any amount of tinkering would ever significantly boost audience response. Though likely tinged with hyperbole, that picture was the subsequently infamous Bonfire of the Vanities."
Among Mazursky's other films is An Unmarried Woman, which starred Jill Clayburgh, for which she earned an Oscar nomination for best actress, while Mazursky earned best screenplay and best picture nominations. Other films include Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Next Stop, Greenwich Village, Harry And Tonto, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Enemies, a Love Story.
Mazursky's first acting role was in 1953, as a psychopath in Stanley Kubrick's first feature film, Fear And Desire. Twelve years later, Mazursky and Larry Tucker wrote the original pilot for the TV series The Monkees. Mazursky and Tucker have cameos in the episode.