Hamlisch was a passionate supporter of the New York Yankees and the Great
American Songbook, so you know he was a man of discerning taste. He also composed the music for a show that
had a nice run on Broadway. It was called A
Chorus Line. Roughly eighteen months
after his passing, Hamlisch gets the American Masters treatment with Dori Bernstein’s Marvin
Hamlisch: What He Did for Love (promo here), which premieres
on most PBS stations nationwide this Friday.
Hamlisich was born to working class immigrant family, he achieved remarkable
success at an early age. He was just
that good. He also had the tireless
support of his beloved mother. Julliard
recognized his talents, offering the prodigy a scholarship, but Hamlisch never
became the classical recital pianist they envisioned.
A Chorus Line will be the centerpiece
of any survey of Hamlisch’s career.
There is no avoiding it. However,
James D. Stern & Adam Del Deo’s documentary Every Little Step remains the definitive documentary word on the
record breaking show and the highly regarded 2006 revival. For anyone who has
seen it (which presumably includes a good number of Hamlisch fans), WHDFL plays a well meaning but familiar
Bernstein finds rich material throughout the rest of Hamlisch’s oeuvre. It is easy to forget how huge “Through the
Eyes of Love,” his romantic theme to Ice
Castles was at the time, because the film itself has not aged well. Likewise, Carly Simon offers some memorable reminiscences
on recording Hamlisch’s Bond theme, “Nobody Does It Better.” The catchy
archival performance clip from They’re
Playing Our Song might also raise the stock of Hamlisch’s second biggest
a Tony Award winning Broadway producer, whose previous screen credits include
the entertaining behind-the-scenes documentary ShowBusiness, Bernstein clearly understands the world of musical
theater. She also scored interview time
with a small army of Hamlisch’s friends and collaborators, including Joe Torre,
Quincy Jones, Steven Soderbergh, Donna McKechnie, and Woody Allen (via phone,
but still impressive).
Bernstein assembles a comprehensive portrait of
a patriotic, down-to-earth artist with a tireless work ethic. It is a good profile that unfairly suffers in
comparison to great thematically related doc.
Recommended for fans of Broadway and American popular song, Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love airs
this Friday (12/27) as part of the current season of PBS’s American Masters.
Labels: A Chorus Line, American Masters, Documentary, Marvin Hamlisch