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"I feel more like I do now, than when I first got here", quotes Professor Irwin Corey who, after starting in show business in 1938, claims to be The World's Foremost Authority. Married for over seventy years to his chain smoking wife, Fran, he is a famous ninety-nine year-old stand-up comedian, performer and political satirist. Legendary comedian, political activist and civil rights advocate Dick Gregory shares his thoughts about Irwin and Susan Sarandon, an old family friend, narrates this gem of a film in a very personal tone. Filmmaker Jordan Stone explores an intimacy rarely caught on camera with such a fascinating untypical New York couple.Written by
'However' does Irwin Corey begin his shtick, his comic gimmick that has well served him yea these many decades. A monologist who strings together a laundry list of words that has a large dollop of the fantastical which owes much to Bunel's surrealism but in an oral tradition that reaches far into man's past. Side splitting and, as this documentary that is amateurish and doesn't serve the genius of Corey well. The comedian Dick Gregory, director Jordan Stone's voice to give body to Corey's long career and achievements. Who remembers Corey from the Sgt. Bilko show? or from the Depression era 'Pins and Needles'? O for that matter from 'New Faces of 1943' at the Village Vanguard or the 'The Purple Onion' or 'The Hungry I'? 'Irwin and Fran' show a vigorous Corey at 98 pushing his walker along New York's Third Avenue in the 30s, near his carriage house home, hawking newspapers. Blacklisted during those 'Scoundrel Times', to slip into the words of Lillian Hellman, they only served to fire up his engines for irony and contempt for the powers that be. And his pep and vinegar level is a potent mixture to corrode the accepted wisdom of the times. Along side him sits his wife Fran, hounded by the FBI, for being if not a member of the Communist Party in its heyday, but a 'premature anti fascist for her support of the Republican, and lawful government of Spain, overthrown by Franco in the 1930s. Although he wasn't a member of the CP--'they considered me too much of an Anarchist, Cory volunteers--there was never a left wing cause he embraced, and well into his 90s, you catch a glimpse of him at 'Occupy Wall Street', entertaining the younger protesters of the money bags that control the American economy. Fran lighting cigarette after cigarette in the kitchen says little but she there to keep Corey on his mark and from nodding off too often. Alas, she dies before the documentary is finished, and Jordan catches a wounded Corey who, in visible emotional pain, expresses the loss of his long time comrade in marriage and in the trenches of good causes. And yet, his irrepressible spirit of exuberance cannot not stop his tart tongue from piercing the persiflage of the moment. Modest, and yes, he can be modest...it's up to Dick Gregory who got his break by substituting for a regular Corey at Hugh Hefner's Chicago Playboy Club to set the monologist in proper perspective: Corey was far above the madding crowd, never he did he stoop to demean women, nor be a 'coonologist', causing Blacks to suffer a loss of dignity in his act. He raised money for the children of Cuba, at a time it was politically dangerous, and for that Fidel Castro personally thanked him when Corey and wife went to the US blockaded island. Lenny Bruce idolized him, and, it is said, to learn much from his routines. Corey is truly an American original, but he did come out of a time when it was alright to challenge boldly the evils of capitalism and horrors which today the coupon clippers of finance capitalism continue to visit on us, especially since the global recession they triggered in 2008 and whom we bailed out and got nothing but contempt, war and who baldly pull of the strings of America's 'democracy'. Bravo Corey for living so long and for sticking your verbal finger in the eye of a debased ruling class. Many more years to you, and keep up the good fight until your last breath
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