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Chasing the Panther : Adventures and Misadventures of a Cinematic Life - Carolyn Pfeiffer

Chasing the Panther

Adventures and Misadventures of a Cinematic Life

By: Carolyn Pfeiffer

Hardcover | 6 June 2023

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As a young girl jumping from rock to rock in rural North Carolina, Carolyn Pfeiffer felt a calling she could not articulate but somehow understood: a yearning for something far away. Even as a young girl of ten, she knew that she would never be able to ignore that feeling and not act on it.

Within a few short years, Carolyn Pfeiffer left her hometown for New York City, a city filled with opportunity for young women looking to exercise their newly found independence and leave behind the traditional expectation of settling down. Carolyn was quickly swept up in the glamour of the city, where she befriended the wealthy and well-established, including socialite Penny Knowles and a young Burt Reynolds.

From New York, Carolyn followed Penny Knowles to London, then Paris and Rome, where the world opened up to her in a way she never imagined. In Rome, Carolyn learned the craft of film, fell in and out of love, and was beset by various tragedies and triumphs that eventually led her back to London, where she and Penny started their own PR agency, and then Los Angeles, where she became one of the first female executives and producers in the film industry. Along the way, Carolyn introduced the world to such illustrious stars as Omar Sharif, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, and Robert Altman, among others.

Told with cinematic quality, vibrance, and detail, Carolyn’s memoir reads like a true-to-life novel of a young woman discovering her voice, establishing her place in the world, losing everything, and finding herself again.

About the Author

Carolyn Pfeiffer is an American film producer. She was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Madison, North Carolina. After attending Guilford College, she moved to Europe and began a career in motion pictures. She first worked in Rome as Claudia Cardinale's assistant on films, including Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, Luchino Visconti's The Leopard, and Blake Edwards's The Pink Panther. She then moved to Paris and worked as an associate producer for Alain Delon's production company. Within a year, she joined Omar Sharif as his executive assistant and worked on many of his films, including Doctor Zhivago.
Industry Reviews
'The young southern girl who stepped through the looking glass at the right time may be the one to explain the magic hold of movies. Immensely pleasurable, vivid, and precise, Carolyn Pfeiffer's beautifully written and acutely felt memoir brings you into her life and puts you in her skin as she discovers the seductions of Europe and the glamour of show business. And she writes so well about what love affairs are made of and how they go'. * Joan Juliet Buck, author of The Price Of Illusion *
'Chasing the Panther is the feminist serial you always longed for, dropping you right into the middle of the explosive European film world of the fifties and sixties, where Carolyn Pfeiffer not only is in the right place at the right time but is the right person: she makes her own way, meets everyone, falls in love a lot, works hard on and off the set with directors and actors, and by the seventies, winds up being the only female producer in Hollywood able to green-light a film. And she has wisdom. This book is such a beautiful read.' * Eileen Myles, poet, author of Chelsea Girls *
'A terrific read. The education of a pioneering indie studio executive as a young woman whose film school was European art cinema at its heyday, and also an intimate memoir of a life in the fast lane during the Swinging Sixties, careening from Rome to Paris to London, working and partying with the likes of Visconti, Truffaut, and the Beatles.' * Thomas Schatz, professor at the University of Texas at Austin; film historian and author of the bestselling book The Genuis of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era *
'Carolyn has experienced firsthand what it's like to be part of the glamour and guts of greatness while still feeling her cheeks blush and heart soar. Those same sensations become ours. This book should be required reading for anyone with a dream.' * Alan Rudolph, multiple award-winning director and writer *
'Carolyn Pfeiffer fearlessly joined an international cultural revolution where she gracefully embraced opportunities in fashion, the film industry, and single motherhood. Achievement, glorious highs, and tragic lows . . . her life reads like a novel.' * Joan Tewkesbury, filmmaker, author, and senior advisor at the Sundance Institute *
'Carolyn Pfeiffer's adventures in her most unusual and adventurous life have included associations with rogues and royalty, creative changers of culture and wayward souls looking for redemption. She has, in the process, built companies, created media moguls, built schools, produced Academy-recognized films, and crashed through more glass ceilings than imaginable, all with grace and wit and charm. If there was cutting-edge of action of the cultural front, Carolyn was there: brave, confronting, and unbowed. And on top of all of that, her men have generally been famous, good looking, literate rascals, and she always gave them the run of their lives.' * Thom Mount, producer and former president of Universal Pictures *
'Carolyn was there at virtually every defining juncture of modern entertainment culture--from the French New Wave to the London music scene through the rise of the American independent film movement.' * Keith Carradine, Emmy and Tony-Award nominated actor and Academy Award-winning songwriter *
'This book is a gem. Carolyn's dazzlingly bold and marvelous souvenirs knock one out from page one. Her prose is powerful and graceful, her life fascinating: she worked for the likes of Visconti, Claudia Cardinale, and Alain Delon (to drop a few names) and is always gracious and generous about them. I love her and love her book. So will you.' * Geraldine Chaplin, actor and winner of the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Goya Awards *

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