American Masters

Mike Nichols, an American Master

Mike Nichols, an American Master

This is a brilliant biographical documentary on the late director Mike Nichols done by his early standup improv partner, Elaine May.

Mike Nichols is best known as both a theater and movie director and he’s directed some incredible movies including: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (his first film), The Graduate, Silkwood, Heartburn, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Postcards from the Edge, Regarding Henry, The Birdcage, Charlie Wilson’s War, and many more.

The American Masters documentary is based in part on an interview Nichols did with the producer Julian Schlossberg where Nichols tells the story of his life. May has taken the interview and added all of the relevant contextual information including interviews with many of the people Nichols knew and worked with, period photographs and video, and much more. It’s an incredible story of an incredible life and even if you’ve never seen his films or plays, my guess is you’ll find it fascinating.

This show aired on PBS in the United States January 30th (last night) and you can watch the entire thing here on the web at the above link. The web video will expire on February 27 so I highly recommend watching it soon. I’m not sure how and where this video will be available in the future.

Here’s a small tidbit on the making of the documentary: Filmmaker Interview with Producer Julian Schlossberg.

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

I thought I could embed it but it didn’t work, just follow the link above to see the full video on the PBS site.

This is a brilliant American Masters documentary on the photographer Pedro E. Guerrero who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson and other artists as well as on Madison Avenue doing interior architectural photography for the advertising world.

It’s an hour long so give yourself time to watch it or, keep track of the time code so you can watch it in shorter segments and get back to the place you left off.

American Masters: Jimi Hendrix

The PBS show American Masters, ran a fantastic documentary the other day: Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’. You can watch the entire thing online or on the PBS app on an iPad or any iOS device.

Even if you think you know all there is to know about the short but amazing life of this rock legend, this documentary will fill in many gaps not to mention, give you a taste of the evolution of his music.

I saw The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968. In those days I saw a lot of bands perform live in both Los Angeles and up in San Francisco but I have to say, Jimi Hendrix was an original and whether you liked or like his music, there’s no denying he was a genius.

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

PBS’s American Masters recently ran their bio of the late late night comedian, Johnny Carson. If you missed it you can watch the entire thing, full screen (zoom it out) at the link above. It’s a fantastic biography of a fascinating man and Carson’s career runs parallel to the early history of television and the various people interviewed for this piece are also pioneers. Very worthwhile although put aside an two hours if you’re going to watch it all the way through in one shot.

Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light

This is the entire 1995 American Masters program in nine linked parts on YouTube. It’s well worth watching (full screen). We saw it when it first aired on PBS many years ago and I bought the DVD which is now out of print and tough to find. This may be the only way to see this excellent biography of Richard Avedon, one of the greatest photographers in history.

When Tina Brown hired Avedon to be a staff photographer at The New Yorker I saved every image they printed of his. Together Brown and Avedon started the process of loosening up what was getting to be a rather stuffy (if still excellent) magazine. I have many of Avedon’s photo books including Into the American West, now out of print but an incredible collection of portraits.

[via PetaPixel]