A Superficial Portrait Of A Major Hollywood Power Broker-- "
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 03/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone that knows me will tell you right away--I love film. So when a documentary or fictional movie about the film industry rolls around, I'm ready for it. So I was eager to see "The Last Mogul" about Lew Wasserman--a notorious agent who navigated the intricacies of Hollywood for decades rising to the level of a studio chieftain. While Wasserman's story is an interesting one, this documentary raises just about as many questions as it answers.
As Wasserman did not grant interviews and left no written document of his life, we are able to gather nothing of significance from the man himself. Rather we are granted a rather superficial portrait of someone who was undoubtedly a major power player in Hollywood--but it's hard to delineate how much of his story is truth and how much is legend. The substance, however, of this film is provided by friends and cronies of Wasserman and it is clearly a lovefest. If this documentary is to be believed, Wasserman was a maverick unlike anyone else. He single-handedly created Ronald Reagan as a politician, he created the Universal Studios empire that is known today (originating public tours, etc.), he was the first agent to master profit participation in films for his clients, and many other revolutionary methods that agents and studios have pilfered from this one incredible man.
I'm not trying to downplay Wasserman's significance, I'm just suggesting that the documentary is a tad one-sided. For example, as Wasserman took over Universal--it is clear that he had lost touch with modern movies to a certain extent. So what did he do? He stepped aside to let younger talent breathe life into the studio. An astute business decision, to be sure, that gave rise to many of the biggest pictures of the mid-seventies including "Jaws" and "American Graffiti." But the film would have it both ways--mentioning Wasserman's lack of involvement and then giving him credit for the artistic and commercial merit of these films.
Regardless, I was still intrigued by Wasserman's story. With reputed mob connections which aren't fully explored in the film, Wasserman courted his share of controversy. From his well-documented temper to his trouble with the law (his practices as an agent were dismantled by the government because they were considered monopolies), it's a colorful story. But lacking any input from Wasserman, we lack any real insight--any real truth. If you like Hollywood history, check this out--but it succeeds more for entertainment than for actual information. KGHarris, 03/07."
THE REAL GODFATHER IN HOLLYWOOD!
Graham Hill | HOLLYWOOD Calif. | 12/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those that thought Marlon Brando was the only "Godfather" in Hollywood, this dvd will introduce you to the real one -Lew Wasserman. Super-agent, super-mogul and super-powerful. From Cleveland to Hollywood to the White House, this documentary lays out the life of a man through those that knew, loved and feared him. Lew was not a man that gave many interviews, least none on film and he was not one to write things down either. He firmly believed in keeping an ultra-low profile, unless you had to deal with him personally and then -watch out!
The master of the deal, he personally managed client Ronald Reagan and remade him as the "Great Communicator". From the Screen Actor's Guild presidency, to the Governorship of California and finally the ultimate starring role playing the White House. And Wasserman was supposed to be the Democratic half of the MCA team. That is the Music Corporation of America, which Lew really elevated out of the band booking business, into the biggest talent agency ever seen. It's all here, along with the "real" tour of Universal Studios. The one that the tram guides are not allowed to talk about. But overall, Lew Wasserman comes out of this pretty well considering his "alleged" mob affliations. A necessary evil that at least got things done and maintained some kind of order in Hollywood. Ruthlessly shrewd, cunning and even at times sentimental, he created the monster that has become the new Hollywood. Where it's all about the deal and the packaging of style over substance.
May I suggest for those that want to learn more and see everything laid out and documented in black & white, a few good books on Amazon- "Mr. & Mrs. Hollywood" by Kathleen Sharp; "The Last Mogul" book that is by Dennis McDougal; "When Hollywood Had A King" by Connie Bruck and finally the investigative expose that blazed the way "Dark Victory -Reagan, MCA & The Mob" by Dan Moldea!"
POWER THY NAME IS WASSERMAN
Shannon Deason | Houston | 06/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The name Wasserman meant power in Hollywood for more that forty years, his rise and gradual fade out are chronicled in this very good DVD. The film highlights the reason's why this poor Jewish kid from east Cleveland was able to rise to such great heights. It's interesting how his connection to the Jewish mob and his fortuitous mentorship by Jules Stein, propelled him to the pinnacle of Hollywood power, eventually overshadowing Stein himself. Wasserman is something of an enigma and the weakness of this documentary is that it has no real interview with Wasserman himself, not even archieval, the man was infamously private, like a great hollywood vapor. Without this, it's hard to really get a feel for this ruthless, yet seemingly elegant man. It appears the filmakers did the best they could to flesh out this sort of Citizen Kane, but in the end, I still couldn't help but wonder, who was this guy, really? It's a shame the filmmakers could not get his wife to speak, one has the feeling she knows all and as such is anyone surprised she is as much of a phantom in this film as he is?"
Superficial but informative and nice to watch
Manuel Pestalozzi | 01/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Now I know that Lew Wasserman was a very powerful and influential personality, that his sphere of influence surpassed the world of showbusiness. (According to this movie he practically created Ronald Reagan as a politician). But I still do not understand in what way he influenced society, which would be interesting to know - but which maybe is a subject too deep and complex for a filmed documentary. This movie is well made (great musical soundtrack) and certainly entertaining. Even in old age Mr Wasserman was an attractive and telegenic man - it almost seems a pity he only acted behind the set."
THE ULTIMATE INSIDER'S LOOK AT HOLLYWOOD
Hollywood Intern | Los Angeles | 12/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hope the release date is not really 2010. I saw this film in New York and was blown away. It is a slick look at Hollywood and the man who invented it , long before The Player and Kid Stays In The picture. Everyone is in it and it is a must see for anyone that loves the biz. The review in New York Times said it was absorbing and it was and more. The film passionately traces the career of super power Lew Wasserman under a tight scope with celebs like Ovitz, Valenti, Evans and even Jimmy Carter talking power. Can't wait to have my own copy."