Monday, October 02, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The terrific documentary HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (2015) is being released this week on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

I've been interested in seeing this film since first reading a review by my friend Raquel Stecher in 2015. Raquel has been a great champion of the film and made me quite curious about it, but I was unable to catch a theatrical screening. I was thus delighted when I learned of the Kino Lorber release.

Harold and Lillian Michelson worked behind the scenes in Hollywood for decades. Harold worked as a storyboard artist on films such as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ( 1956), WEST SIDE STORY (1961), and THE BIRDS (1963) before eventually becoming a two-time Oscar nominee as Production Designer of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) and TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983).

Lillian, meanwhile, started as a volunteer at the research library at the Samuel Goldwin Studio, eventually purchasing the library and relocating with it to different studios over the years, including Zoetrope and DreamWorks. Lillian was the uncredited force who researched historical details for countless films; her best anecdotes are about researching the design of the girls' underwear for FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971) and getting to know a (mostly retired) drug kingpin while researching SCARFACE (1983).

Harold and Lillian's lives weren't without challenges. Lillian overcame being raised in an orphanage and not feeling completely worthy of love for much of her life; Harold nearly died when he was smashed by a collapsed film set, with the resulting long-term leg injury sending him into a period of drinking and depression; and the eldest of their three sons was autistic, at a time when little was known about autism.

Much of their life story is told directly by Harold and Lillian via interviews; archival interviews with Harold, who died in 2007, are mixed with new interviews with Lillian. Lillian, with her high-pitched, animated voice, can be quite an amusing storyteller. Wonderful charcoal sketches by Patrick Mate, drawn in Harold's style, also help illustrate their lives.

It's a documentary which is simultaneously educational and a darn good story. I learned a great deal and smiled while doing it!

HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY was written and directed by Daniel Raim. It runs 94 minutes.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray contains numerous extras, including the trailer, deleted scenes, a film school seminar Harold gave on camera angles, and additional featurettes.

Recommended viewing.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

3 Comments:

Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the film! Ever since I first watched it I hoped that you would get to see it. Thanks for mentioning me in your post.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Brittaney said...

I recorded this when it aired recently on TCM and am really looking forward to viewing it.

8:41 AM  
Blogger SimpleGifts said...

My husband and I so enjoyed this delightful, touching movie about these unsung Hollywood heroes who stayed together through thick and thin. The film reminded me of the documentary HERB AND DOROTHY (on Netflix DVD) about a husband and wife who managed to build one of the finest modern art collections on their postal clerk and librarian salaries. We can all learn a lesson or two from Harold, Lillian, Herb and Dorothy about hard work and devotion. Thanks for the review! - Jane

6:04 PM  

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