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James Toback

James Toback

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Black And White DVD Writer-director James Toback brings the provocative sensibilities of such films... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

Tyson DVD Assembled from over 30 hours of interviews with the controversial heavyweight... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

Love And Money DVD Byron Levin (Ray Sharkey) has two sides. One is Byron the workaday L.A. banker... more info $17.99was $17.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 23, 1944 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, producer, film critic, actor, magazine writer, literature professor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A former journalist, sports writer and literature professor James Toback began his film career with the semi-autobiographical screenplay for Karel Reisz's "The Gambler" (1974) and made a powerful directorial debut with "Fingers" (1978), a crude but fascinating melodrama (which he also wrote) about an aspiring pianist (played by Harvey Keitel) who reluctantly "collects" debts owed to his domineering father (Michael V. Gazzo). Actor-athlete Jim Brown, whom Toback profiled in a 1971 book, also contributed his strong screen presence in a rare subdued role as the man whom Keitel's love interest (Tisa Farrow) cannot leave despite occasional revulsion. The director-screenwriter's next three films, "Love and Money" (1980), the erotic thriller "Exposed" (1983), in which he made his acting debut as Nastassja Kinski's professor-lover, and "The Pick-up Artist" (1987) did not live up to the promise of what film critic (and personal friend) David Thomson called "... the best first film by an American director since 'Badlands'."With his engaging documentary "The Big Bang" (1989), Toback turned what at first glance looked as if it would be a glossy flip through a series of poised, polished faces, into an emotionally...

A former journalist, sports writer and literature professor James Toback began his film career with the semi-autobiographical screenplay for Karel Reisz's "The Gambler" (1974) and made a powerful directorial debut with "Fingers" (1978), a crude but fascinating melodrama (which he also wrote) about an aspiring pianist (played by Harvey Keitel) who reluctantly "collects" debts owed to his domineering father (Michael V. Gazzo). Actor-athlete Jim Brown, whom Toback profiled in a 1971 book, also contributed his strong screen presence in a rare subdued role as the man whom Keitel's love interest (Tisa Farrow) cannot leave despite occasional revulsion. The director-screenwriter's next three films, "Love and Money" (1980), the erotic thriller "Exposed" (1983), in which he made his acting debut as Nastassja Kinski's professor-lover, and "The Pick-up Artist" (1987) did not live up to the promise of what film critic (and personal friend) David Thomson called "... the best first film by an American director since 'Badlands'."

With his engaging documentary "The Big Bang" (1989), Toback turned what at first glance looked as if it would be a glossy flip through a series of poised, polished faces, into an emotionally gripping look at humanity. The skip-jump editing with which he juxtaposed his interviews kept the documentary moving while minimizing its inability to grasp any transcendent answers from the serious questions posed. Toback followed with a sleek, award-winning screenplay for Barry Levinson's "Bugsy" (1991), effectively combining his gambling fascination with a glamorized portrait of mobster Bugsy Siegal as an arch-romantic, American visionary. His "Vicky", a biopic of American suffragette Victoria Woodhull which made MOVIELINE's 1994 list of the 10 Best Unproduced Screenplays, remains on the shelf, and though he did uncredited "script-doctoring" in the interim, Toback did not direct again until the low-budget, somewhat controversial "Two Girls and a Guy" reunited him with "Pick-up Artist" Robert Downey Jr. The film, a character study about two woman who confront their mutual boyfriend, ran afoul of the MPAA ratings board over an extended, silhouetted scene of lovemaking. Originally classified as NC-17, the filmmaker made cuts to finally achieve an R rating, but the troubles delayed the film's 1998 release.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Tyson (2008)
3.
  When Will I Be Loved? (2004) Director
4.
  Harvard Man (2001) Director
5.
  Black and White (1999) Director
6.
  Two Girls and A Guy (1997) Director
7.
  Big Bang, The (1989) Director
8.
  Pick-Up Artist, The (1987) Director
9.
  Exposed (1983) Director
10.
  Love and Money (1982) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Outsider, The (2006)
4.
 Black and White (1999) Arnie Tishman
5.
 Casanova Falling (1999) (Cameo Appearance)
6.
 Bugsy (1991) Gus Greenbaum
7.
 Big Bang, The (1989) Himself
8.
 Exposed (1983) Leo Voscovitch
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Taught literature at CCNY
:
Contributed articles and criticism to HARPER'S, ESQUIRE, and COMMENTARY magazines; was sports columnist for LIFESTYLE magazine and film critic for DISSENT
1967:
Began friendship with Norman Mailer, based on an essay he published on the author in COMMENTARY, which Mailer found alert and well argued
1974:
First screenplay, "The Gambler"
1978:
Directorial debut, "Fingers"; also scripted
1982:
First film as producer, "Love and Money"; also wrote and directed; legendary director King Vidor appeared as Ray Sharkey's senile grandfather
1983:
First film appearance, portraying a professor in "Exposed"; also produced, wrote and directed
1987:
First collaboration with Robert Downey Jr, directing him in "The Pick-up Artist"
1990:
Directed fascinating documentary "The Big Bang", posing philosphical questions to a variety of people ranging from basketbal player Darryl Dawkins to producer Don Simpson
1990:
Played the part of a professor in Woody Allen's "Alice"
1991:
Received Oscar nomination for his "Bugsy" screenplay
1994:
Script for "Vicky", about early American feminist Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927), made MOVIELINE's list of 10 Best Unproduced Screenplays
1997:
Made cameo appearance in "Cassanova Falling" (filmed 1997), produced by Michael Mailer (Norman's son)
1998:
Reteamed with Robert Downey Jr for "Two Girls and a Guy", his first directing project since "The Big Bang"
1999:
Helmed "Black and White", an improvisational comedy featuring Downey and Brooke Shields
2001:
Realized a dream project, directing "Harvard Man"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1966
Columbia University: New York , New York - 1967

Notes

"I'm already taking 64 different pills a day, vitamins and medicine for my prostrate. My doctor has a theory that high testosterone levels, like mine, can lead to prostate cancer. He says eunuchs never die of prostate cancer, which means half of Hollywood might live forever . . ." --James Toback to DAILY NEWS, February 2, 1997

About his unsuccessful attempt to get an R rating for "Two Guys and Girls": "Of course, the MPAA's rating board--that pretender to the throne of Guardian of the American Parent--would have to be appeased. Since the NC-17 is a bogus rating--preventing a movie from being widely advertised and exhibited--I would be, and have been, forced to trim the sex scene in order to procure an R. In response to an appeal, the head of the board said that the film's sex scene was 'unprecedented in the history of movies.' Much as I would like to plead guilty to such a charge, I'm afraid that if it is indeed true, it is more the result of the historical dread of real sex in American film than of anything explicit in 'Two Girls and a Guy'." --James Toback, PREMIERE, February 1998

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Consuelo Sarah Churchill Vanderbilt Rusell. Married on April 26, 1968; divorced; granddaughter of the tenth Duke of Marlborough.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Irwin Toback. Stockbroker.
mother:
Selma Toback.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Jim"

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