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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

THE LAST MOGUL (2005)

Barry Avrich’s well-reviewed, but decidedly amateurish documentary about Lew Wasserman, the coldest of the great Hollywood power-brokers, never gets a handle on its slippery subject. Wasserman’s rise as über-agent @ MCA in the ‘40s & ‘50s is hardly illuminated by the use of generic archival footage & corny narration, and the faux ‘50s hipster muzak is embarrassing. While his glory days as boss @ Universal and de facto Godfather to all things Hollywood aren’t made clear by the unfocused interviews Avrich culls from a motley assortment of Hollywood types . . . and Jimmy Carter! (Producer David Brown & talkster Larry King come off best.) Does Wasserman deserve the unintentional 'Emperor’s new clothes’ treatment? Is "He Wrote a Great Contract’ a fitting epitaph for the man? Was a tv-packaged Movie-of-the-Week the height of his æsthetic reach? Surely, there’s more to the story? Cool opening titles though.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Dennis McDougal’s unaffiliated THE LAST MOGUL: Lew Wasserman, MCA and the Hidden History of Hollywood is a far stronger look at the subject. Probably the best Wasserman bio available.

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