Cinematic legend and San Antonio native Marcia Nasatir, 92, will be back in her hometown for a series of events, including two special screenings on Oct. 4 and 7. In 1974, Nasatir became the first female vice president of a major Hollywood studio (United Artists). In that role, she greenlit the Academy Award-winning films One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
(1976) and Apocalypse Now
(1979). During the 1980s, she produced other films like The Big Chill
, Hamburger Hill
On October 4, the Santikos Bijou Theater will host a free screening of The Big Chill
at 5pm followed by a Q&A with Nasatir. Then on October 7, Nasatir will join local movie fans at Alamo Beer for a special screening of the documentary A Classy Broad
as part of the San Antonio Film Festival’s Broads & Brews film series.
Written and directed by Anne Goursaud, A Classy Broad
tells the story of how Nasatir, a young, Jewish girl from San Antonio, made her way to Hollywood to work with some of the most talented stars in the industry, including Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando.
During a phone interview last week with the Current
from her home in Los Angeles, Nasatir talked to us about what it was like watching a documentary on her career, growing up in San Antonio and her friendship with legendary film critic Pauline Kael.
What was going through your mind the first time you watched A Classy Broad? Was it surreal to see your entire life and career made into a documentary?
I was very flattered that anyone thought I was interesting enough to make a movie about. The filmmaker, Anne Goursaud, is a very talented editor and director. I think what I was thinking [as I watched the movie] was, “Why is my hair that way and why was I wearing that dress?”
What is one of your fondest memories of your childhood in San Antonio?
We used to go swimming all summer long. We used to go to the Woodlawn pool. I went to Agnes Cotton Elementary School and Mark Twain Jr. High School and Thomas Jefferson High School. I was a Lasso (dance team member), which I thought was the most important accomplishment I ever did, not only because I was in it, but because I learned how to twirl a rope.
What about movie memories?
Growing up in San Antonio, we went every Saturday afternoon to the Uptown Theater. You got to see two pictures, a Western and a cartoon. It cost 25 cents. My brother and I and other friends would go and we would be there for hours. The other theater I went to was called the State Theater. We also went to the Majestic Theater and Aztec Theater downtown. As a kid, you would go to the movies every week. They were wonderful. That’s why I ended up in the movie business.
I know you’ve been back a few times in the last few years for the San Antonio Film Festival. What do you enjoy doing when you’re down here?
I visit my sister. She still lives there. Her name is Rose Spector. She used to be a judge. (Note: Spector was the first woman elected to the Texas Supreme Court. She served from 1993-1998). I like to eat Mexican food. I like to eat at La Fonda. It’s the best Mexican food in the world. In Los Angeles, they make some attempts at [Mexican food], but it’s not the same. The other thing I like to do is buy pecans and pecan candy.
We learn a lot of interesting things about you in A Classy Broad. What do you personally think is the most interesting thing about yourself?
That back then I wanted to have a career. It was called “having a career” back then, not “going to work.” I was fortunate. I had parents who thought their children could accomplish whatever they wanted. I had the courage to say, “I want a career and I’ll work with men.”
Today, in the MeToo era, we’re seeing a lot of women standing up for themselves in the workplace and calling out bad behavior by male coworkers. That’s not something that was happening in Hollywood when you were there in the 1970s and 80s, was it?
No, it wasn’t. I’m trying to remember if I felt threatened. I never did. I never felt afraid or felt like a victim. That’s what we’re getting with the MeToo movement today. But I had good experiences. I worked with men and they were all really terrific. And if they weren’t terrific, I’ve forgotten them.
As a film critic, I was interested in hearing about this new documentary you’re featured in about legendary film critic Pauline Kael (What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael).
Pauline was my super, dear friend. She was a critic in San Francisco and came to work in New York. We became friends. I can’t remember who introduced us. Going to the movies with Pauline was a memorable experience. First of all, she talked through the whole film. She would make comments. She was so intelligent and had such an understanding of the power of film. She loved movies and, of course, she was a wonderful writer.
Did she ever review one of the films you either greenlit or produced?
Yes, she reviewed The Big Chill
and it was as polite and kindly as she could be. She was torn, I think. I haven’t read it in years, but now I think I want to go back and take a look at what she wrote. (Note: In her 1983 review, Kael called The Big Chill
“an amiable, slick comedy with some very well-directed repartee and skillful performances,” but also said it was “shallow” and “phony.”) She was always torn by her feelings of friendship. She was friends with [director] Robert Altman and no matter what he made, she was able to rationalize that [a bad movie] wasn’t his fault.
What kinds of movies do you like to watch these days?
I like thrillers. I love Westerns. I’m going to see The Sisters Brothers
soon – the Western with Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly.
What is the best thing about movies?
I think it’s sharing the experience with other people. Seeing a movie by yourself is not the same.
Were you actually at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1977 when Rocky stunned Hollywood by winning the Best Picture Oscar over All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver and Network?
Yes, I was. I think I took my sister. I probably said something like, “We deserved it.” Rocky was a little picture. I was the only one at United Artists who had seen Sylvester Stallone in a movie before. I thought Rocky was perfect when I read the script. I’m a great believer that a great movie begins with a great screenplay.
The Big Chill
Free, 5pm, October 4, Santikos Bijou Theater, 4522 Fredericksburg Rd, (210) 734-4552, santikos.com
A Classy Broad
$12-$15, 5pm, October 7, Alamo Beer, 202 Lamar, (210) 872-5589, facebook.com/alamobeerco
Get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter.