The movie-producing career of Saul Zaentz peaked three times when One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus and The English Patient won Best Picture Oscars. 20 years at the top with a white beard. He also had something to do with Daryl Duke‘s Payday, one of my all-time favorite Rip Torn movies. For sure, Zaentz lived a rich, accomplished and combative life. A legendary Berkeley-based producer of upscale Oscar-bait movies (The Unbearable Lightness of Being was another) who began in the music business in the ’50s, Zaentz was 92 when he passed yesterday. Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits and threats of lawsuits. I’m not saying Zaentz never experienced infancy, youth or middle age. He might well have, but he never appeared to be anything other than that cantankerous but well-spoken old guy with the white beard…that’s all I’m saying. Lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits and threats of lawsuits. Zaentz’s last project was Goya’s Ghost, which I never saw and which you can’t even stream. “Zaentz brought a series of lawsuits against John Fogerty, claiming defamation of character for the lyric ‘Zanz can’t dance but he’ll steal your money.'” — from Zaentz’s Wiki page.

As a result of writing about Zaentz’s passing I ordered a DVD of Payday on Amazon. Only $5 bills and it’s a pretty good-looking DVD if I recall. It should be here by next Tuesday or Wednesday.