Obituary: Don Getz

Don Getz, film distributor: born Chicago 28 March 1920; married 1943 Charlotte Ettinger (two daughters; marriage dissolved 1963); died London 22 August London 1993.

DON GETZ was born in Chicago and grew up in New York, but will be remembered as an international figure in films, an independent film distributor, producer's representative and sales agent. He was, says Jeremy Thomas - whose early film The Great Rock 'n Roll Swindle Getz had helped to sell - 'one of the unique band of warrior salesmen who are an important part of putting together films': not the employees of the leading American studios, but the men with small companies to whom foreign and 'art-house' film-makers must turn if they ever hope to be given adequate distribution. The essential connecting link between independent, avant-garde cinema and its public.

After an early career in radio, records and comedy-writing and a wartime posting as an air force sergeant in Florida, Getz, in partnership with his brother-in-law Jules Buck, brought the films of Jacques Tati to America: Mr Hulot's Holiday and Jour de Fete. They also brought Clouzot's Les Diaboliques. Later remarkable films that owed their distribution to him include Joe, Attenborough's Seance on a Wet Afternoon, and Too Bad She's Bad. In recent years he concentrated on films from Holland, particularly the work of the highly regarded director Jos Stelling. He also championed the film A Year of the Quiet Sun by the Polish director Krysztof Zanussi.

Don Getz had a classically handsome, Roman face, and a permanently youthful bearing, contradicted by a certain avoirdupois. His personality was a uniquely reassuring blend of highly sophisticated, ironic humour, laid-back tolerance, and a total lack of awe. An independent thinker unimpressed by power and unfazed by fashions, he went his own way and collected in his wake so many friends that to walk down the street with him at the Cannes Film Festival was to understand for the first time the feeling of being mobbed.

While his company Playpont Films was headquartered in London, Getz's turf stretched from the Milan MIFED to the American Film Market in Los Angeles, with a particular stretch of wholly owned territory that encompassed the entire Croisette at the Cannes Festival. Every year at the Martinez a slew of rooms, some mysterious cubbyholes without numbers and a suite, were reserved for him, and from here he persuaded Japanese and South African and US exhibitors of the virtues of showing such films as Caligula or The Great Catherine.

As my uncle, Don Getz was for me a down-to-earth interpreter of the adult world who managed to make the worst dramas seem funny. For the last 20 years I have been discovering that no matter what new people or places I discovered, Uncle Don had already been there and made them his own.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before