Review: ‘Smash His Camera’

Ron Galella's storied past and still-active present are chronicled in docu.

The first notorious and still most famous paparazzo (a term he embraces), Ron Galella has a storied past and still-active present that are chronicled in “Smash His Camera.” This entertaining docu by “When We Were Kings’?” Leon Gast is more eccentric personality portrait than the in-depth scrutiny of celebrity-culture madness afforded by fellow Sundance preem “Teenage Paparazzo.” Amusing, lightweight feature’s mix of colorful human interest and a bazillion star images make it natural for cable.

At 78, Bronx native Galella is as driven as ever, screeching across Manhattan to chase a celebrity tip, sneaking into invite-only events, etc. Such tactics are widespread now, but for years his shameless ingenuity was considered unique, appalling — and unbeatable. His admitted obsession with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis grew so invasive she took him to court twice, at one point getting a 50-yard restraining order. But Galella, a cheerful vulgarian whose “Sopranos”-like Jersey manse features a garden of plastic flora, sees no moral quandary in his work. He’s at once conscienceless and innocent, a “parasite” who believes deep down that celebrities really want all the attention, all the time. Assembly is bright and brisk.

— Dennis Harvey

Smash His Camera

Production

A Got the Shot production. Produced by Adam Schlesinger, Linda Saffire. Executive producers, Jeffrey Tarrant, William Ackman, Daniel Stern. Directed by Leon Gast.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Doug Don Lenzer; editor, Doug Abel; music, Craig Hazen, David Wolfert. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 24, 2010. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Ron Galella, Floyd Abrams, Dick Cavett, Betty Burke Galkella, Thomas Hoving, Peter Howe, Martin London, Stuart Schlesinger, Paul Schmulback, Liz Smith.
With: Ron Galella, Floyd Abrams, Dick Cavett, Betty Burke Galkella, Thomas Hoving, Peter Howe, Martin London, Stuart Schlesinger, Paul Schmulback, Liz Smith.

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