HBO Documentary Films: HIS WAY

Doc-logoOverview: Legendary film producer and personal manager Jerry Weintraub steps out from behind the scenes as he takes his turn in the spotlight with this feature-length documentary. Directed by Oscar nominee Douglas McGrath, produced by Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentary producer Graydon Carter, Alan Polsky and Gabe Polsky, and executive produced by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh and Audrey Rosenberg. It chronicles the five-decade career of the trailblazing Hollywood Doc_HisWayPosterentrepreneur, utilizing personal video, archival footage and one-on-one interviews with Weintraub, his friends, family and co-workers, and some of today’s brightest stars. The documentary features interviews with Weintraub’s friends in political and Hollywood circles, including former president George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Ellen Barkin, James Caan, Elliott Gould, Andy Garcia and Ralph Macchio, among others.

Weintraub’s unbridled passion for the world of entertainment, impressive business savvy and gift of social diplomacy led to his success as a promoter, manager and respected producer of films, television and concerts. His unmatched ability to recognize and promote talent found him at the top of his game in his 20s, arranging tours for both Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. He conceived and produced sold-out concert tours for John Denver, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and others; produced top-rated television specials; produced blockbuster and critically acclaimed films such as the “Ocean’s Eleven” series, the “Karate Kid” series, “Diner” and “Nashville”; and recently penned his best-selling autobiography, “When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead.”

Charming, clever, confident, brutally honest, unabashed, unorthodox and sometimes outrageous, Weintraub presents a portrait of a man who was taught early in life to work hard and dream big, to pursue his visions and to never take no for an answer.

Expectations: This is an Encore Presentation that originally aired in 2011. I have probably stated by now that I am usually not a fan of documentaries about Hollywood. I don’t care much for the themes of “celebrity” or “Hollywood Royalty” nor do I care much for them patting themselves on the back with awards all the time. What I do like about Hollywood though, is the “art of filmmaking” aspect. I am not sure exactly which  approach this documentary of Mr. Weintraub will follow. Maybe the trailer offers a clue.  

Gut Reaction: Oh, no. By that trailer it just looks like Hollywood praising one of its own. Well, it ends up that way, but the beginning is pretty solid. Jerry W. or his wife talk about the early years to start and is good though some of their stories go on way too long. The best portion is in the middle when we get into the years of his concert promoting. Great stories of Elvis, Sinatra and Denver hold my attention more so than the clips from the movies did. At least the ‘talking heads’ are kept to a minimal until the end and then the piece kind of crashes at least for me. Plus, we discover our subject has odd living arrangements with his spouse, Jane Morgan. But, if you want to know all about that watch the film.

In Conclusion: It is not anything you need to see, but it isn’t a horrible film in its construction or subject. It is also middle of the road in regards to being about the Hollywood I hate and the one I like. The stories were long-winded, but held enough interest. HIS WAY, take it or leave it.  

Next Week: On Monday 01.19 HBO will have an encore presentation of GIDEON’S ARMY which was already reviewed. It will air beginning at 5:30pm. The following week MONDAY, JANUARY 26 will be the debut of HBO Documentary Films: NIGHT WILL FALL at 9:00pm. We will have a review of this harrowing Holocaust documentary then.

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