Toots

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Marvell
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Toots

Postby Marvell » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:19 pm

I kicked my 2007 Film Festival off with a screening of Toots at the Stage Door.

First of all - kudos to the volunteers who were working the Stage Door on Thursday night. I've griped about the effectiveness of festival volunteers in the past, but last night (at the Stage Door at least) they were prepared, efficient, organized and helpful. When your biggest complaint regarding the volunteers is that they gave you too much real butter on your popcorn, you know you've hit the film fest jackpot. I think it helps that Director Hamel was the Volunteer Coordinator before she took over from Mary Carbine.

The movie itself was great. There was some truly amazing interview footage; it was quite striking to see both Frank Gifford and Tony Garragiola become emotional almost to the point of tears in describing Toot's kindness to them. Gifford in particular came off as a sensitive, thoughtful and eloquent guy - which years of watching him on Monday Night Football had not prepared me for. I also liked the parade of journalists who helped place Shor's career within a cultural and historical context. In a way, Toots Shor sort of reminds me of Timothy Leary - they both became famous (at least in part) because aspects of their personality interacted with specific developments going on in the culture around them in a complimentary way; if their careers had started ten or even five years in either direction I doubt they would have had anywhere near the same impact.

The other thing I learned - Leroy Neiman has a really cool moustache.

jjoyce
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Postby jjoyce » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:44 pm

What killed me was that cheap fleece pullover Gifford wore in most of his interview segments. What was that, part of Wal-Mart's Kathy Lee collection?

E-gads

small cheese
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Postby small cheese » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:46 am

I had never heard of the guy before, which made me a little nervous towards the end. I was really enjoying it, but when it became clear to me that his death was going to be part of the documentary, I started feeling a little emotional. During the 60s when things were not going well for him, I was thinking that he was going to commit suicide. I don't know why I thought that, but I was feeling like I was on the edge of an emotional breakdown of the sorts that builds up after 3 grueling weeks at work and the stress that comes with it. I was scared I was going to lose it at the time this big, strong and likable man offed himself. I was never so relieved to learn of someone dying of cancer.

Marvell
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Postby Marvell » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:35 pm

I don't think your emotional reaction is really that surprising. The filmmaker is, I gather, Shor's granddaughter - and it shows in the film; there's a tremendous amount of personal investment in Toots. It really comes through in the interview footage - I doubt another filmmaker could have gotten media figures like Mike Wallace or Frank Gifford or Tony Garagiola to respond so naturally on camera. When Mike Wallace smiled and said "your grandfather" in reference to a question about Shor, it hit me like a revelation; Wallace, in that moment, was actually handsome - he displayed an ease with himself that I had never seen, in all the hundreds of times I've seen him on television. And when Garagiola almost broke down talking about how Shor took an interest in him despite his relative lack of public status, I got a little manly-misted myself.

Which is always the odd thing about popular media - you come to 'know' people you will never actually know. And what Toots drives home is how this one guy, Toots Shor, managed to neatly negotiate a career out of blurring that line - he became a star by being a Regular Guy who knew the stars.

Here was this Orthodox Jewish kid from Philly, and he had enough juice to get Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis to sit down for dinner together. And then have Babe Ruth stop by.

That's some strong americana-fu, hoss.


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