Paul Mazursky -- writer, film director, actor, and producer -- has created a body of work over the past thirty years that has established him as one of America's most respected and admired filmmakers. His films are often personal, intimate, and humorous observations of the human condition.
In Show Me the Magic, Mazursky brings that same unique gift to his memoir, as he takes us behind the scenes and literally shows us the magic of a career that boasts such cinematic triumphs as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Harry and Tonto, Tempest, An Unmarried Woman, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, as well as providing warm, touching, and very human portraits of many of Hollywood's legends, including Peter Sellers, Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Federico Fellini, John Cassavetes, Orson Welles, and many, many more.
Born in Brownsville, Mazursky started performing in school, and in college landed his first leading role in an off-Broadway production. Shortly after that, Mazursky was cast in Stanley Kubrick's first film, Fear and Desire, and then two years later this Jewish kid from Brooklyn appeared as a juvenile delinquent in Blackboard Jungle, starring Sidney Poitier. When stardom didn't immediately follow, Paul turned to comedy, first as part of a comedy team playing the New York clubs, then to writing for Danny Kaye.
Mazursky got into feature films when his screenplay (with Larry Tucker) for I Love You, Alice B. Toklas was made starring Dr. Strangelove himself, Peter Sellers. It was an experience Mazursky would not soon forget, a trial by fire for his introduction to filmmaking. Sellers, as brilliant as he was crazy, did everything from accuse Mazursky of sleeping with his wife, Britt Ekland, to forbidding the color purple to be worn on his movie sets. ("Purple is death," he would shriek, and offending cast and crew would have to rush to change their clothes.)
Mazursky then made his smashing directorial debut with the then-risqué and now classic Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. A long list of successful films followed, among them Harry and Tonto (with an Oscar-winning performance by Art Carney); the blockbuster hit Down and Out in Beverly Hills (starring Nick Nolte and Bette Midler), and Enemies, A Love Story (which earned him a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director).
In Show Me the Magic, Mazursky recounts his close friendship with famed Italian director Federico Fellini, whom Mazursky met while trying to persuade Fellini to appear in his film Alex in Wonderland; his improvised "argument" scene with Henry Jaglom in a never-released film directed by Orson Welles, as Welles, egging Mazursky on, plied him with brandy and cigars; directing the orgy scene in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice -- will they or won't they? everyone wondered as Elliott Gould, Dyan Cannon, Natalie Wood, and Robert Culp climbed into the king-sized bed on the closed set (there wasn't much to worry about -- Gould wore two pairs of underpants to bed); discovering that Little Richard, appearing as the neighbor in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, was Jewish and that the singer couldn't work on the Sabbath because he had to be in temple to conduct services; being befriended by a possible KBG agent while touring Moscow as part of the research for the Robin Williams film Moscow on the Hudson, and much, much more.
Written with genuine wit and an overriding sense of affection for the people he has worked with, Show Me the Magic is a feast for fans of films and of celebrities. In addition to being a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movies, there is a very human look at the bigger than life people with whom Mazursky has worked. And of course, there is Paul Mazursky's own story as well -- a tale of struggle and success and a joy in having been able to live a life so full of creativity and personal happiness and satisfaction. Anecdotal, personal, warm, and frequently very, very funny, Show Me the Magic is a special treat for lovers of film and of witty biography.
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