Summer 2016

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24 CINEMONTAGE / Q3 2016 by Peter Tonguette M ost directors strive to set a tone on their movie sets. Director Alan Rudolph, however, establishes the mood before the cameras roll. In 1993, Suzy Elmiger, ACE, met with Rudolph about editing Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, his new film about the life and career of writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), which starred Jennifer Jason Leigh in the title role. It was released by Fine Line Features the following year. To conduct the interview with Elmiger — who ended up getting the job — Rudolph chose an inspired location: the Rose Room in Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel, where Parker mixed with such lionized literary contemporaries as humorist Robert Benchley, The New Yorker editor Harold Ross and playwright Robert E. Sherwood. "He wanted to have our interview at the Algonquin," Elmiger says of Rudolph. "I think he did most of the talking, because he was really in the thrall of the Algonquin and with Dorothy Parker and the whole tribe over there. I don't even remember if I said anything; probably not." Instead, Elmiger was an attentive listener — first to Rudolph's thoughts about the film, and then to the film itself, which featured a swarm of sophisticated talkers, including Benchley (played by Campbell Scott), Ross (Sam Robards) and Sherwood (Nick Cassavetes), in addition to Parker. Other characters depicted included Parker's husband, Alan Campbell (Peter Gallagher), Charles MacArthur (Matthew Broderick) and Edna Ferber (Lili Taylor). The film gets underway in 1930s-era Hollywood before shifting to flashbacks in 1920s-era New York. A native of White Plains, New York, Elmiger grew up in a household that would have appreciated such bookish personalities. "My mother was a librarian; she was a huge reader," says Elmiger, who went on to major in comparative literature at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. But, until making Mrs. Parker, the editor had not been overly familiar with Parker and those in her circle. "I was always somewhat aware of them," she says. "Dorothy Parker was modern — she was way ahead of her time — but the rest of them, I'm not sure that I would have been reading Benchley. I was learning about it as I went." MY MOST MEMORABLE FILM Suzy Elmiger on 'Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle' Suzy Elmiger. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Fine Line Features/ Photofest

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