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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn