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Two very separate runs of 'Hollywood Greats' were aired, with twenty
years between them. In the late 1970s Barry Norman (then presenter of
the BBC's 'Film 1973' etc. and son of director Leslie Norman) took a
look at some of the best loved actors from the 'golden era'.
A quick look at the book which accompanied the series reminds me that amongst the first group of subjects were Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland and Ronald Colman. Much in the vein of the later series 'Living Famously' (which focused on movie stars alongside other key people in popular culture) the approach taken was a snapshot of the subject's life punctuated by a look at their films.
When the series returned with Jonathan Ross at the helm in 1999 it seemed more peripheral, although the subjects were interesting - Gene Kelly, Judy Garland (again!), and Richard Harris. There's always a place for the short profile documentary and the 'Hollywood Greats' strand was/is as good as any other.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I started taking notice of this programme (in 2006) when they really started paying attention to the fantastic actors of Hollywood. Basically for three episodes, at least twice a year, Jonathan Ross gives all all the information we would want to know about an actor/actress, and why they were/are so admired/acclaimed by other actors, and the public. The only three episodes, or rather focused stars, I have seen so far have been Harrison Ford, Jack Lemmon and Marlon Brando, but all have been really good with attention to detail concerning their histories. I really look forward to each programme and which star is going to be discussed and focused. Very good!
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