News & Politics

Favorites: Movie Guru Loves Fellini, Kurosawa

Murray Horwitz has had an interesting career. It began with three years as a clown in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. He went on to cowrite Ain’t Misbehavin’, which turned into one of Broadway’s longest-running musicals and won him a Tony and Grammy. Later, as National Public Radio’s vice president for cultural programming, he won two Peabody Awards.

In 2003, he became director of the Silver Spring AFI cultural-arts center.

Horwitz and his wife, Lisa, married since 1974, have three children: Alexander, Ann, and Charles.

Favorite spot in Washington? The AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center.

Next favorite spot in Washington? The Capitol. I still get a thrill every time I look at that dome.

All-time favorite movie? The 1935 comedy Ruggles of Red Gap, directed by Leo McCarey.

Favorite recent movie? Little Miss Sunshine.

Favorite film director? It’s a tie—Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa.

Favorite place to watch a movie other than AFI? The National Gallery and the Library of Congress—and they’re free.

Favorite play? Anything by Molière.

Favorite singer? Nonliving, 1930s songbird Mildred Bailey; living, soprano Dawn Upshaw.

Favorite pastime? The New York Times daily crossword. Did you see Wordplay in our Silverdocs festival?

Favorite Washington nightspot? The Smithsonian Jazz Cafe every Friday night. Always good, interesting music, usually with name bands. Who knew?

Favorite Washington band? Classical, the Post-Classical Ensemble; jazz, the Afro Bop Alliance.

Favorite baseball team? Cincinnati Reds. Now, if the Nats had held on to Frank Robinson . . . .

Favorite book? Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

On your bookshelf now? Enough by Juan Williams; the Tanach (Jewish sacred writings); No Other Life, poems by Gary Young; Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews—A History by James Carroll.

All-time favorite restaurant? The Pine Club in Dayton, Ohio.

Favorite food? Anything my wife, Lisa, cooks, but the brisket and potato latkes are killin’.

Best meal ever? It was way out in the country in Tuscany: handmade pasta e fagioli, veal grilled over a wood fire, some incredible wine—I was a younger man then.

Historical figures you’d most like to meet? Adam and Eve. I’d have stopped them.

Favorite object? My record collection.

Coolest thing you’ve done in the past year? A conversation at AFI Silver with Al Gore, Jim Jarmusch, and Martin Scorsese.

Thing about you that would surprise others? I’m rather taciturn at home.

What makes Washington special? The ideas that it represents—and represents rather well: e pluribus unum and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

What makes going to the movies special? You’re part of a group of people who, for the next two hours, have devoted themselves to being moved, amused, compelled, or otherwise entertained. And even in a very conventional film, you’re witnessing some of the most astonishing aural and visual stimuli ever created.