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George Kaczender, who directed the controversial feature In Praise of Older Women, which caused quite a ruckus at the 1978 Toronto International Film Festival, has died. He was 83.
A native of Budapest, Kaczender died Wednesday at his home in Century City after a long battle with cancer, family friend Noel Hynd told The Hollywood Reporter.
In the World War II-set In Praise of Older Women, based on a novel by Stephen Vizinczey, Tom Berenger starred as a man in Hungary who is taught the ways of love by a married woman (Karen Black).
The film was shot in Montreal and received a gala presentation at the third edition of the Toronto festival. Censors demanded that a brief sex scene be removed, but organizers decided to show the movie uncut for one time only — and that generated a great deal of publicity.
“I still don’t know what happened — from what I’ve put together, I believe tickets were duplicated and distributed,” former Toronto Sun reporter George Anthony recalled last year. “The Elgin [Theatre] was packed, and there were hundreds of people in the street waving their invitation tickets in the rain. The cops had to come, and one of them said to me, ‘What is the movie here?’ And I told him. And he said, ‘All these people are rioting to get into a Canadian film?'”
Earlier, Kaczender co-wrote and directed Don’t Let the Angels Fall (1969). It was nominated for the Palme d’Or as the first Canadian feature invited to the main competition at Cannes, Hynd noted.
Kaczender also directed the two-time Genie Award nominee Agency (1980), which starred Robert Mitchum, Lee Majors and Valerie Perrine and had a screenplay by Hynd, and Chanel Solitaire (1981), which was based on the early life of Coco Chanel. It was shot in France and toplined by Rutger Hauer, Timothy Dalton and Marie-France Pisier.
He also helmed The Girl in Blue (1973) and Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid (1981) and episodes of such TV series as Falcon Crest, Tour of Duty and Gabriel’s Fire.
Kaczender and his family fled Hungary in 1956 after the Soviet invasion. He emigrated to Austria and then moved to France before settling in Canada, where he worked at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal from 1956-69.
From 2002-04, Kaczender served as an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, teaching directing. His memoir, Notebooks of an Incurable Romantic, was published in 2014.
Survivors include his wife Joan and son Justin. A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. on Thursday at Mount Sinai in the Hollywood Hills.
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