Misc. Reviews

LIFETIME INTIMATE PORTRAITS

By • Jun 15th, 2000 •

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Unapix 1998

Fashioned after A & E’s Biography series, Lifetime’s Intimate Portrait Series is a set of 47 minute tapes, each profiling an important woman in the media. Like the Biography series, each tape includes film clips, portrait stills and interviews with either the celebrity herself, or those around her. Four of the women featured are Jean Harlow, Pam Grier, Jessica Tandy and Halle Barry. Like most short biographies, only the surface of a person’s life is skimmed.

I learned nothing new about Jean Harlow, who has always been one of my favorite screen goddesses. The Harlow biography does have wonderful archival material, such as rare stills of Jean posing with co-actors, family, and husbands. It also includes a warm, friendly, seldom heard radio interview Harlow gave in 1936, the year before her tragic death.

The Pam Grier segment was a lot of fun, mainly because it included the original theatrical trailers to her signature blaxploitation films of the 1970’s (such as Coffy and Foxy Brown). There are some excellent film clips showing Ms. Grier’s acting talents. One of the clips is of her as a deadly razor carrying, New York hooker in Fort Apache, The Bronx.

Sigourney Weaver narrates the Jessica Tandy tape. There are many interviews with Tandy’s stage partner and long-time husband, Hume Cronyn. It was fun to watch Jessica Tandy display a neat sense of humor. In a 1958 interview with Edward R. Morrow, she laughingly compares herself to Jayne Mansfield. This tape also includes segments of a rare radio performance of A Streetcar Named Desire, the legendary Broadway play that made Jessica Tandy a sensation. The performance includes Jessica Tandy performing as Blanche DuBois, along with her co-star, newcomer Marlon Brando. This tape ends with a look at the battle Ms. Tandy fought against ovarian cancer.

It’s evident that Halle Barry is too young for a biography tape. HerÕs was sort of like those paperback bios of fresh new celebrities like Brittany Spears or Leonardo DiCaprio. There’s still not enough material in their young lives to warrant a book or a tape. The Halle Barry tape did have informative bits in it, such as Ms. Barry being accused of stuffing the ballot box for a high school beauty contest she won. We get interesting details of how she fought for the role that made her a star – the scary crack addict in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever.

The tapes include interviews with relatives, friends and co-workers close to these women. The oddest were twin, elderly effeminate hairdressers warmly recalling Jean Harlow. Quentin Tarantino, sporting a horrid prison haircut, discusses auditioning Pam Grier for Pulp Fiction (Rosanna Arquette got the part) and actually working with her on Jackie Brown.


Credits:
Produced and Written by The Lifetime Channel

Celebrities Featured:
Jean Harlow,
Pam Grier,
Jessica Tandy,
Halle Berry

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