Comedians, politicians and rock stars all graced The Dick Cavett Show stage, but the audience favorites were often the movie stars. And when the guests were greats like Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitch... more »um and Orson Welles, Cavett often devoted the full 90 minutes to them. In the case of Katharine Hepburn, the interview went so well that it required two full 90 minute shows. This 4-DVD set contains 12 episodes featuring: Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Groucho Marx, Debbie Reynolds, Kirk Douglas, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando, Mel Brooks, Frank Capra, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Mitchum, John Huston and Orson Welles. Also contains a new Cavett interview conducted by Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne. Additional bonus material includes: ? Outtakes featuring Katharine Hepburn ? New episode introductions by Dick Cavett? Original promos for The Dick Cavett Show« less
"This is the first time I have written a review for Amazon. I just purchased this DVD today and simply could not wait to see Cavett's interviews with Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn. Both these women are so unique and so strong willed in their sense of who they are one can't help but be impressed. Earlier today I glanced at the Tyra Banks show and she was devoting her entire show to interview the Celeb du jour Nicole Richie. When asked, Richie could not fully even explain why she was famous. Seeing Davis and Hepburn one is fully aware why they are so rightly put on a pedastal by movie fans and film historians when seeing their originality and inner strength and sheer bravado. In a way it is very sad seeing these two being interviewed especially when compared to the mediocrity of todays bland celebs that are all about marketing and fit bodies and NO PERSONALITY! Watching Hepburn I am inspired to honor everything about myself that is unique and to aspire to live life better and to more consciously enjoy the present. As a gay man, I must say Bette Davis has fascinated me since I was a kid. Her physical fraility (especially towards the end of her life) could never diminish her forceful personality. It is because of this contradiction that I believe so many gay men of a past era have been inspired by her- I can't imagine anyone telling her what to do without encountering a wrath of outrage on her part. In Cavetts interview she remains as commanding and opionated as ever. Davis will always be my favorite actress, but Hepburn is a close second. I am eager to see the other interviews on this DVD collection, especially Orson Welles. Cavett is a wonderful interviewer because he allows his guest to shine with little interruption. I always thought Oprah was great at interviewing, but after seeing Cavett I must admit she constantly interrupts her guest and fails to let them shine (lets face it the spotlight is on her even if she were interviewing Christ-just kidding!!). Do yourself a favor during this present day wasteland of celebrity mediocrity and hear the wisdom and charm of celebrities that live up to their greatness. I know Davis and Hepburn will charm you while they share interesting anecdotes about their lives in such a wonderfully articulate way. It is so refreshing to hear celebrities speak who are actually intelligent and have something to truly say. Enjoy!"
Wonderfully Insightful Glimpses into True Movie Legends From
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 10/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the early 1970's, I remember how Dick Cavett was constantly positioned as a competitive threat to reigning late night king Johnny Carson. Coming across as far more erudite and at times pretentious, Cavett never came close ratings-wise, yet he did get some amazing "gets" during his tenure on ABC. This four-disc set is appropriately entitled "Hollywood Greats" since it contains relatively extensive interviews with true film legends who rarely subjected themselves to such probing. While Cavett can come across as a bit worshipful at times (e.g., he looks truly awestruck with Hepburn for the first half-hour), he also asks sharp, often unconventional questions and offers some clever quips to warm up his guests with tangible results.
The best is the two-part 1973 interview with Katharine Hepburn, her first ever for TV. At a robust-looking 66 and with her crackling persona in full bloom, the legend threatens to make Cavett into a whipping boy with her unapologetic honesty and lacerating wit. After a typically critical appraisal of the set, the interview unexpectedly starts, and for well over two hours, she is constantly fascinating from her confessions of being a burglarizing prankster in her youth to her genuine pride over her accomplished parents to her thinly veiled disgust with actors who refuse Oscars to her personal impressions of co-stars like Bogart and Peter O'Toole. What she does so well is completely skewer Cavett when he becomes too unctuous, for example, when he asks whether she regrets not working with Olivier, her lightning-quick response is "Neither of us is dead yet." My favorite moment occurs when Cavett disingenuously asks Hepburn whether she has ever had a desire to snort some coke, her response is immediate..."Cold sober...I find myself absolutely fascinating." So true. There is also an intriguing extra included - 24 minutes of unedited pre-interview footage which shows Hepburn interviewing Cavett.
There are also terrific conversations with Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, as well as master directors Orson Welles, John Huston and Alfred Hitchcock. The feisty Davis showcases her brazen honesty with unabated energy and humor in a 1971 interview, especially talking about her early days at Warner Brothers when she was called on to assess fifteen actors on their lovemaking skills. Also from 1971, Mitchum is hilariously deadpan as he talks about escaping a chain gang in Georgia or the seemingly unyielding tolerance of his wife of thirty years. With his dry humor in full effect in 1972 just as his underrated "Frenzy" was released, Hitchcock is wonderfully sharing about his particular aptitude in filmmaking as well as his limitations.
The funniest chats are unsurprisingly with Groucho Marx (with fellow guest Debbie Reynolds) and Mel Brooks, who is part of an intimidating multiple-filmmaker line-up of Frank Capra, Robert Altman and Peter Bogdanovich. There are some other chats that are not as interesting. Even though he sings Gershwin, Berlin and Porter tunes with his elegance intact, an impeccably dressed but overly self-effacing Fred Astaire is simply not that revealing in his 1970 interview. He easily looks the most ill-at-ease with Cavett's format. But easily the worst interview is with Marlon Brando, then embroiled in his 1973 Oscar snub and focused on the plight of Native Americans. With his cocky arrogance, the 49-year old actor, who was then in the midst of a career renaissance with "The Godfather" and "Last Tango in Paris", simply refuses to talk about his career in favor of his cause despite Cavett's best efforts.
Sadly, the print quality varies at times, in particular, during the Hepburn interview when the lighting noticeably changes from segment to segment. Nearly seventy now, Cavett has recorded new introductions for the interviews with his personal remembrances of how they came about. On Disc Four, there is also a recent interview TCM's Robert Osborne conducts with Cavett, more celebratory than insightful. This set is for anyone who is a fan of Hollywood's golden era, as Cavett was able to talk to otherwise inaccessible celebrities and capture their real personalities for posterity.
Here is the content breakdown of the four discs: --Disc One: Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire --Disc Two: Bette Davis, Groucho Marx, Kirk Douglas --Disc Three: Mel Brooks, Frank Capra, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, John Huston, Marlon Brando --Disc Four: Robert Mitchum, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock"
The Lost Art of Conversation
Cubist | United States | 10/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In our current soundbite culture the art of conversation is dead. Talk shows (both day and night) are merely vehicles for actors, authors and musicians to promote their latest movie, book or record. They are given very little time to have a conversation between commercial breaks. With the exception of The Charlie Rose Show, which is on public television and has no commercials, there are very few shows were people can talk to each other for longer than five minutes without an interruption.
In the 1970s, The Dick Cavett Show was a great source of fascinating conversation. He interviewed a diverse group of people during the various incarnations of his program and this new boxed set features an impressive collection of Hollywood icons who normally shunned these kinds of shows and the Hollywood scene in general. Cavett gets notoriously private stars like Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis to open up in wonderfully unpredictable interviews. At first, they seem uncomfortable or, in Hepburn's case, even confrontational but Cavett, like any good interviewer, makes them feel at ease. This, in turn, makes them feel comfortable enough to talk about their lives and careers.
Another potentially tough interview subject, Robert Mitchum, comes across as quite pleasant and engaging as he tells all kinds of entertaining Hollywood stories. He clearly felt comfortable enough around Cavett to speak candidly about his career. He talks about his lifelong struggle with insomnia and nonchalantly about his stint on a chain gang, alluding to his escape from it. There is a real absence of ego (as opposed to Brando) as the actor speaks humbly about his reputation. Mitchum was one of those rare movie stars unafraid to speak his mind. The man led a colourful life and was someone you could listen to for hours because he was such a good storyteller.
The first disc features "Katharine Hepburn Uncut," showing her with Cavett before the show started getting ready. It allows us to see them in unguarded moments that provide fascinating insight on the legendary actress.
Discs two, three and four include promos for various shows. Also on this fourth disc is "Seeing Stars with Dick Cavett and Robert Osborne." The two men talk about the differences between talk shows when he did them and that state of them now. Cavett speaks about how he became a talk show host and how his hero was the legendary Jack Paar. Osborne takes Cavett through some of his more famous guests (complete with clips) and offers his recollections of them."
Cowboy Buddha | Essex UK | 11/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like most of the other reviewers, I remember watching Dick Cavett's show all those years ago. It was sometimes quite entertaining, frequently irritating, but a slightly more highbrow alternative to the antics of Johnny Carson. The best thing about the show was the quality of the guests - not all of the time, but often enough to make watching the show regularly worthwhile. This set of Hollywood Greats contains some of the more memorable interviews, most of them devoted to a single guest.
In the Cavett/Osborne interview that is a mildly interesting extra, Cavett quotes his idol Jack Paar's rule that talk shows should be conversations rather than interviews. This is, apparently, easier said than done. When Cavett and his guests click - such as Bette Davis and Orson Welles - they are an absolute delight. Some of the other guests such as Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas, are pleasant and genial and give the viewer a totally different impression of these actors than one might get from their films. Fred Astaire, on the other hand, seemed awkward and uncomfortable - probably preferring dance to conversation. And John Huston, who had a reputation as a witty raconteur, is a big disappointment - stumbling over words and not being overly forthcoming in his answers until the end when he wastes far too much time expounding his rather crackpot views about Northern Ireland.
Cavett says the Hitchcock interview is the one fans most ask to see again, but I have no idea why. It comes across as very strained and stilted. Hitchcock is his usual po-faced self, telling familiar anecdotes with his trademark dry wit. But Cavett's interview seems completely disorganized and he often appears not to know what to say or do next. Similarly, the Brando interview was full of false starts and awkward pauses - it was the only one that I turned off half way through. The show with the four film directors was an interesting experiment. Mel Brooks, who had only directed two films at that point, plays court jester while Frank Capra is the wise old man that the others pay obvious homage to. Robert Altman says very little - it is Peter Bogdonovich who comes off best.
The viewer's response to the Katharine Hepburn shows will be in direct proportion to how much they like her in the first place. Personally, I found her alternately amusing and irritating in roughly equal measures, but my wife loved her.
Then there's Cavett himself. For me, he has always been a very difficult person to like. In interviews like these in particular, he is much too starstruck by his guests to be a really effective interviewer - he is never inclined to probe beneath the charm and anecdotes. And he tries too hard to be a combination of the brainy Ivy Leaguer and the shy kid from the Midwest. While his guests occasionally let the public image slip, Cavett is always the facade. And his little introductions to each show demonstrate that he hasn't changed very much over the years.
The other thing about seeing all these shows together is that you realize how much Cavett recycled the same questions. For instance, he asked every actor (Hepburn included) if they thought that acting was an "un-masculine" profession and never got a single sensible answer. (I remember David Frost used to ask every guest: "What is your definition of love?" with similar results.)
All in all, I'm very glad to have got this DVD set and will certainly enjoy watching parts of it again. If nothing else, it proves that the good old days really were good - especially compared to the shows and alleged personalities that are on our screens now."
A Moment in Time
Samantha Kelley | USA | 05/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dick Cavett is a wonderful personality who hosted his own television show during the late 1960s and early 1970s. His conversational style of interview is refreshing compared to the short snippets we see on modern talk shows. Thankfully, Cavett's show preserves a period of history long gone and often forgotten. This DVD set celebrates the wit and charm of the stars of Hollywood gone by.
Unfortunately, some of the shows are similar thanks to Cavett's use of familiar devices. Several of the episodes feature trivia questions directed toward the audience in lieu of a monologue. And why does he ask that incessant question about acting not being masculine enough?
We hear Cavett in modern times commenting on each and every episode with a more lengthy featurette with Robert Osbourne. Sometimes he acknowledges his mistakes and makes fun of himself, and other times he tells stories about after the show.
One of the most entertaining interviews is the one with Alfred Hitchcock, apparently a much-requested episode. Hitchcock is revealed to be rather bright with an excellent sense of humor. Orson Welles' episode is very similar, filled with gems of information. Other shows are simply funny and great fun to watch like Bette Davis' spot and the one featuring legendary directors Mel Brooks, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, and Frank Capra. Brooks manages to steal the show, as always, but Capra gets a chance to tell some interesting stories.
Some interviews are rather uncomfortable. Groucho Marx and Debbie Reynolds make an unruly pair which paint Marx as a belligerent jerk and Reynolds as a prude without a sense of humor. Marlon Brando makes a rare television appearance with a red flag waving for the cause of the Native Americans.
Who else? Fred Astaire sings, Katharine Hepburn dictates, Kirk Douglas reminisces, John Huston smokes, and Robert Mitchum just is. With such an excellent cast of characters, how could you pass this one up?"