Next Stop, Greenwich Village: Mazursky’s Autobiographical Film

Next_Stop,_Greenwich_Village_posterThis romantic dramedy, set in 1953, is evocatively written and directed by Paul Mazursky, who draws on his own youth.

A semi-autobiographical account of Mazursky’s early life as an actor, the film received a warm response at its world premiered at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, and was well received by critics when released in the U.S..

When the tale begins, Larry Lipinsky (Lenny Baker) is a Jewish boy from Brooklyn, aspiring like other youngsters at the time to fame and stardom in showbusiness.

To that extent, he moves to Greenwich Village, much to the chagrin of his extremely overprotective mother, Faye (Shelley Winters, well cast). Larry ends up hanging out with an eccentric bunch of characters while waiting for his big break.

The real-life Mazursky made his acting debut in Stanley Kubrick’s 1953 film Fear and Desire (shot in New York), and worked for a decade as an actor before embarking on a successful directing career.

His tight-knit group of friends, a trult melting pot, includes a wacky girl named Connie; Anita (Lois Smith), an emotionally distraught suicidal woman; Robert, a young WASP who fancies himself a poet; and Bernstein (Antonio Fargas), a black gay man.

Insecure, he carries on a stormy relationship with Sarah (Ellen Greene), his girlfriend, who wants more than he is willing to give or commit.

This band of outsiders becomes Larry’s new family as he struggles as an actor and works toward a break in Hollywood.

A sharp director, with strong eye for details and performances, Mazursky had always excelled in casting his films with the best acting talent available to him. He was a democratic, humanistic director in the best sense of these terms, one who loved all of his characters and actors.

Among other merits, the film contains a gay character, who defies mainstream Hollywood’s stereotypical and cliché portraiture of homosexuals in the 1970s.

You can spot in small parts Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray, all of whom would establish themselves as major actors in the next decade.

Cast

Lenny Baker as Larry Lapinsky

Shelley Winters as Fay Lapinsky

Ellen Greene as Sarah

Lois Smith as Anita

Christopher Walken as Robert

Antonio Fargas as Bernstein

Jeff Goldblum as Clyde Baxter

Bill Murray (uncredited) as Nick Kessler

Stuart Pankin (uncredited) as Man at Party

Vincent Schiavelli (uncredited) as Man at Rent Party

Credits:

Directed and written by Paul Mazursky
Produced by Mazursky and Anthony Ray
Music by Bill Conti; Dave Brubeck Quartet
Cinematography: Arthur J. Ornitz
Edited by Richard Halsey
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date: February 4, 1976
Running time: 111 min.