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The Last Impresario (2013)

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The most famous person you have never heard of

Director:

Gracie Otto
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael White ... Himself - Interviewee
Gracie Otto ... Herself - Interviewee
Naomi Watts ... Herself - Interviewee
John Cleese ... Himself - Interviewee
Anna Wintour ... Herself - Interviewee
John Waters ... Himself - Interviewee
Kate Moss ... Herself - Interviewee
Lorne Michaels ... Himself - Interviewee
Yoko Ono ... Herself
Nigel Planer ... Himself - Interviewee
Rachel Ward ... Herself - Interviewee
Richard O'Brien ... Himself - Interviewee
Robert Fox Robert Fox ... Himself - Interviewee
Robert Shaye ... Himself - Interviewee
Bill Oddie Bill Oddie ... Himself - Interviewee
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Storyline

Michael White might just be the most famous person you've never heard of. A notorious London theatre and film impresario, he produced over 300 shows and movies over the last 50 years. Bringing to the stage the risqué productions of Oh! Calcutta!, The Rocky Horror Show and to the screen Monty Python's The Holy Grail, as well as introducing Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch and Yoko Ono to London audiences, he irrevocably shaped the cultural scene of the 1970s London. Playboy, gambler, bon vivant, friend of the rich and famous, he is now in his late seventies and still enjoys partying like there's no tomorrow. In this intimate documentary, filmmaker Gracie Otto introduces us to this larger-than-life phenomenon. Featuring interviews with 50 of his closest friends including Anna Wintour, Kate Moss, John Waters and Barry Humphries and, of course, the man himself, Otto pays a vibrant tribute to a fascinating entertainer. Written by London Film Festival

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

Australia | UK | USA | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 June 2014 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Mannen bakom stjärnorna See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

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Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
Gushingly Superficial Profile of a Complex yet Flamboyant Character
1 January 2016 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

The career of Michael White, theater and film impresario, is a potentially fascinating subject for a documentary. Born in Glasgow, he spent much of his childhood abroad - first in a Swiss boarding school (where he learned several languages), then in France, and eventually fetched up in New York. He became interested in the theater, and brought over Jack Gelber's troupe for a limited season in London in 1960, at a time when popular theater had not yet impinged itself on West End audiences.

Thereafter he carved out a career for himself as a radical producer always willing to take a punt on contentious material, so long as he believed in it. He brought John Cleese, Bill Oddie, and Tim Brooke- Taylor to the West End in a Cambridge University revue, and launched their careers in different media. He produced LOOT by Joe Orton, despite a disastrous opening production that toured the United Kingdom with Kenneth Williams in the lead, and died the proverbial living death. He really made his name with OH! CALCUTTa (1970), a nude revue created by theater critic Kenneth Tynan, which caused an outcry in London and on Broadway on its first performance, yet settled into lengthy runs in both cities.

Thereafter followed an illustrious career, with major theater hits such as THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and A CHORUS LINE, interspersed with film successes such as MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974).

There was so much to find out about a socialite who enjoyed parties and collecting celebrities, yet remains fundamentally a shy person; a producer who has made huge fortunes yet has had to sell his archive recently in order to survive; and a much-married person who inspires both love and respect amongst his women.

Unfortunately Gracie Otto's film failed to explore these psychological areas in any depth. She preferred to include a succession of gushing tributes from oldsters such as John Cleese, and relative youngsters such as Naomi Watts, interspersed with the kind of anecdotes usually reserved for talk shows. Theater critic Michael Billington tried to provide some context for the profile, but even he could not redeem a film that employed all the wearyingly hackneyed historical clichés beloved of filmmakers with little or no real understanding of the period they are working on: the Sixties was a time of hedonism; there was a new freedom in the theater; and so on and so forth.

White remains a fascinating subject for analysis, but maybe a filmmaker needs to rely less on testimony from celebs (both minor and major) or has-beens, and adopt a more critical stance toward their material.


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