(Note: I won’t usually be cross-posting with Facebook here, but in this case, I was tagged by a friend to participate in a movie game, which gave me a moment to consider a director — Paul Mazursky — whose work I haven’t thought of in years. So here goes.)
Wow, Paul Mazursky! Certainly a blast from the past, at least for me. I made a point of following his early movies, but frankly lost interest in the later ones, and haven’t re-seen many of oldies, either, though occasionally I think about it. So (caveat emptor) – I’m writing about this from memory. I suppose the obvious one to pick would be NEXT STOP, GREENWICH VILLAGE, which through its theme (young actor in NY in the 1950s) and interesting cast of theater people, should be a slam dunk for me. But it won’t be my choice, first because I haven’t seen it in decades, and I don’t trust my memory; and second, because what I do remember is that I didn’t love it –- the comedy was too heavy-handed and “nudgy,” a fault I associate more generally with Mazursky.
So I’m going to pick the first movie of his I saw (and his first big one) – BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE, a 1969 comedy about wife-swapping. At the time, I thought everything about it was the height of sophistication (keep in mind I was 13 at the time, and wife-swapping was pretty remote from my daily life). But even now, it’s light and fun and a quite delightful period piece. Best of all, Mazursky knows exactly what to do with his cast of charming but not supremely gifted actors – Natalie Wood, Elliott Gould, Robert Culp, and Dyan Cannon. (Cannon in particular is terrific – maybe the best thing she ever did, or at least until HEAVEN CAN WAIT.)