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The cathartic decade of the 1960s culminated in a prolific year of moviemaking in 1969, with Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice as one of the leading American success stories. “Consider the possibilities,” read the ads for writer-director Paul Mazursky’s satirically comic second feature about what happens when the sexual revolution meets the bourgeoisie.
After Bob (Robert Culp) and Carol (Natalie Wood) return to Los Angeles from a retreat, resolved to pursue an open marriage, they persuade their more-conservative friends Ted (Elliott Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon) to make a trip to Las Vegas together. The film opened the New York Film Festival, became a box office hit, and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
“No other work evokes the sexual discomfort of the 1960s as comprehensively as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Mazursky never deflates his characters’ tense situations by moralizing them into submission. He lets their confusions run carefully amok, and allows their emotionally awkward moments to persist . . . long after the conventional Hollywood scene would have ended. The result is hilarious and unsettling.” —Sam Wasson
May 10, 6:30 p.m.
Join Sam Wasson, bestselling author of Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Dawn of the Modern Woman, as he presents a talk and signs his new book, Paul on Mazursky.
“Sam Wasson is a fabulous social historian because he finds meaning in situations and stories that would otherwise be forgotten if he didn’t sleuth them out, lovingly.” - Hilton Als, The New Yorker
L.A native Sam Wasson studied Film at Wesleyan University and at the USC School of Cinematic Arts before publishing his first book, A Splurch in the Kisser: the Movies of Blake Edwards, in 2009. The definitive account of Edwards’s magisterial fifty-year career, Splurch – which Andrew Sarris called “the critical resurrection of Blake Edwards” – incited Wasson to explore the phenomenon of Edwards’s most popular film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in greater depth. In 2010, Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Dawn of the Modern Woman became a New York and Los Angeles Times Best Seller, has been translated in over a dozen languages, and was named one of the best books of the year by several national publications including The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. Paul on Mazursky, Wasson’s book of conversations with the legendary writer-director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, was published in 2012, inciting Quentin Tarantino to write, “Paul Mazursky is one of the great writer-directors of cinema.”
Wasson has contributed to Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of their Financial and Cultural Success, and Kazan Revisited, a centennial collection of essays on Elia Kazan, one of the most complex figures of twentieth century film and theater.
Wasson’s writing on film has appeared in The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, L.A. Weekly, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Criterion Collection. He’s served as a consultant for The Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA Film. As panelist and lecturer Wasson has appeared all over the world, from the 92nd Street Y in New York to Toronto’s Bell Lightbox Theater to the Rome International Film Festival, has been a featured guest on CNN, BBC, Fox, ABC, NPR, and an uninvited guest at many dinner parties.
A visiting professor of Film at Wesleyan University, Wasson is working on a full scale biography of Bob Fosse. With tremendous delicacy and as judiciously as possible, he splits his time (and wardrobe) between Los Angeles and New York.