28 May 2006 | tralfaz
Magnificent, uncompromisingly honest look at one of the screen's greatest legends
Hats off again to Turner Classic Movies and their corporate sibling Warner Bros., for once again setting the highest bar for documentary film-making on Hollywood subjects.
Peter Jones is not a household name, but he should be. This magnificent director has created some of the best industry-based works I've ever seen. His portrait of Samuel Goldwyn on American Masters was superb, and even through the muck of A&E, his telling of the story of Ozzie and Harriet turned out to be one of the most moving, and heartbreaking studies of the American dream dissolved.
After a few years away from the 'spotlight' as it were, I saw this documentary on TCM after reading wonderful reviews. I wasn't skeptical about it, as TCM has generally (with rare exception in prior years) always delivered a first rate product.
Instead of taking the traditional approach, Jones has crafted a true MOTION PICTURE. Not a predictable clip/talking head/clip show. He gets under Davis' skin, and paints a portrait of a remarkable, yet basically sad person. Lest we forget her 1960s autobiography was called THE LONELY LIFE.
Jones celebrates her genius, and has a cast of colleagues and friends of Davis to back up his story, and it sets this show apart from the usual claptrap we see on other cable channels.
Not surprisingly, this is a co-production between Warner Bros. and TCM, which means a somewhat concurrent DVD release of the docu is part of an overall collection of great Davis films. WB has used this formula with both TCM and PBS to celebrate the likes of Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Judy Garland, Garbo, and so many others. It's what sets WB apart from all other studios as the classiest and sharpest when it comes to their legacy on DVD, and also why Turner Classic Movies remains so acclaimed by critics year after year.
I look forward to the next Peter Jones Production! He's one terrific filmmaker. I think Bette would be proud.