DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

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MIKE HUGHES

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MONIQUE NAZARETH

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TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
Network Series Premiere, But PBS Shines with "American Masters"
September 23, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
Two new series premiere tonight: The Mentalist on CBS, which is okay, and Opportunity Knocks on ABC, which I'll see tonight for the first time as it airs nationwide. Neither, I suspect, will provide as much satisfaction as tonight's Fox lineup on House and Fringe.

But there's an additional option: the first two-hour chunk of a five-hour, three-night PBS American Masters documentary on the history of Warner Bros. It's like eating candy from a gourmet sampler -- one yummy treat after another.

Richard Schickel has been writing and directing outstanding documentaries on cinema for decades. (He is to sound films what Kevin Brownlow is to the silent era.) His knowledge and sensibility are tremendous assets, but what matters most is is ease with his interview subjects.

Some of the interviews, featuring Alfred Hitchcock and others, in You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story, which premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings) are culled from Schickel's The Men Who Made the Movies and other documentaries. Others are brand new. Taken together, they add grace notes and memorable stories to a long but strong narrative.

The birth and early maturation of the Warner Bros. studio, containing the first sound film, the emergence of screen stars Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, and the Busby Berkeley musicals, is as wonderful as you'd imagine.

bonnie_clyde_465x402.jpg

But just as you think, okay, we're into the 1960s and 1970s, the Warner story is just about over now, along comes a barrage of fabulous films. Bonnie & Clyde. All the President's Men. A Clockwork Orange. Dog Day Afternoon.

And there are still hours more of this documentary to go. My only complaint is that, as a history of the entire studio, TV is given annoyingly short shrift --- but fans of great films and intelligent TV documentaries, and I know you're both, will love You Must Remember This.

 

1 Comment

 

Eileen said:

I saw clips of the WB show on CBS' "Sunday Morning"; it looks just fantastic. I laughed out loud when it was noted that (the original) Rin Tin Tin was the WB "star" who secured their financial future and enabled them to go on to such amazing creativity/productivity.

They also did a wonderful segment on Chuck Jones, the animator & creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Wiley Coyote, et al. It was humorous, informative and very touching.

So for those who don't watch "Sunday Morning" with Charles Osgood on CBS-TV in NY, please do. It's delightful with such a varied assortment of interviews and information that there's truly something for everyone. Charles Osgood is so good at doing what he does that the show flies by, but it's a great, entertaining way to start your Sunday.

Comment posted on September 23, 2008 1:01 PM
 
 
 
 
 
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