Puzzle of a Downfall Child is the 1970 drama by Jerry Schatzberg in which Faye Dunaway plays an ex model reminiscing about her life of cover shoots and breakdowns.
Last night at Film Forum, Schatzberg presented a restoration of Puzzle and also spoke to the crowd about his achievement.
Schatzberg, who happens to be an ex fiancee of Faye’s, based the film on conversations he had with Anne Saint Marie, a model who became seriously unglued.
He said he originally wanted Joanne Woodward or Anne Bancroft as the older model looking back on her younger life, but Faye was so excited about the project that he let her do both parts of the puzzle.
“Faye was great,” he added, “giving me advice on different things.”
I bet she did!
In fact, when her character compiles a list of people she’ll never work with again, Schatzberg’s name is included–and it was Faye’s idea!
“I left it in,” said the director, “because she meant it–and I did too.”
About the character, he added, “She was always looking for something that was gonna give her peace. I thought Scientology was gonna do it [for himself], but it didn’t.”
As for Faye today, he said he’d like to see her act more; “She keeps jerking around with Master Class. I don’t know if it’ll ever get on.”
While we’re waiting, the Film Forum rep said Faye is a regular customer there! And suddenly so am I!
By the way, Puzzle starts great, then becomes numbingly pretentious, with lots of halting narration–though it’s beautiful and Faye is tops, especially when intoning, “I had the time of my life being miserable.”
For the record, the toilet seat scene is my movie club’s personal favorite.