The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

End Credits #3: Cinema's 2012 Lost Treasures Ulu Grosbard

ULU GROSBARD (1929–2012)

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On March 19 of 2012, cinema lost one of its best directors of ensemble acting, Ulu Grosbard. He was recognised as a prominent stage director on Broadway (Peter Weiss' The Investigation, David Mamet's American Buffalo among others) and off (e.g. Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge for which Dustin Hoffman served as stage manager and Assistant Director). Grosbard made a break for Hollywood by becoming an Assistant Director on such important fare as The Hustler (1961) and The Miracle Worker (1962) before making his debut film The Subject Was Roses (1968), which would herald a successful transition from stage to cinema for both the stage production and its Broadway Director (the same Ulu Grosbard).


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He would continue to provide us with a wealth of uniquely natural, surprisingly non-theatrical performances in such top cinematic fare as the underrated and little known Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying These Terrible Things About Me? (1971) starring stage associate Dustin Hoffman who would then go on to appear in the director's masterpiece Straight Time (1978). This is one of the most realistic portrayals of small time crooks and their activities ever captured on film. It was brilliantly cast by Hoffman who wound up changing his mind about directing the film himself.

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Grosbard then helmed the underrated and critically misunderstood True Confessions (1981) with Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall magnificent as brothers, the former a priest, the latter a cop, whose professional lives cross paths over a murder in 1940's Los Angeles.

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He directed Falling In Love (1984), subtly conveying the natural, slowly blossoming romance between stars Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep and then go on to direct Georgia (1995) featuring an inspired performance from Jennifer Jason-Leigh playing a drug addicted, untalented singer opposite Mare Winningham as her enviable sister: a professional and very popular performer.

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Any actors interested in bettering their craft could take a master class in acting simply by studying the performances in the aforementioned films. The way Grosbard elicits so much inner emotion from his actors when they seem to be doing no acting at all is, from a viewer's perspective, pure magic. He is survived by his wife Rose Gregorio, who gave a towering supporting performance in True Confessions and who also memorably appeared in Grosbard's last film The Deep End Of The Ocean (1999).

Speaking of Rose Gregorio she also participated briefly but effectively at the last pool swum by Burt Lancaster in 1968's The Swimmer (See: Hidden Gems #1), scored by a 23 year old Marvin Hamlisch whom I will appreciate in next week's Lost Treasures of 2012.

Ulu and Rose

Ulu and Rose