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Barrymore [Blu-ray]

50 customer reviews

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(May 07, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Hailed as “the finest classical actor of North America” (The New York Times), Academy Award-winner Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor, Beginners) reprises his Tony Award-winning performance as iconic stage and screen idol John Barrymore in this bold and brilliant tour-de-force film. “Mr. Plummer invests a physically and vocally demanding role with so much passion, pathos and wit that Barrymore becomes a celebration of not just one legendary star, but two” (Rex Reed, The New York Observer). At the height of his remarkable career, John Barrymore was the most celebrated entertainer of his generation. The reigning king of both Broadway and Hollywood, his decline and fall from grace was the tragic result of a self-destructive spiral into vice and excess. And now, with his career in tatters, he makes one final attempt to reclaim his former glory on the stage in this powerful, heartbreaking, humorous and compassionate portrait of a tortured soul and living legend.

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes documentary 'Backstage with Barrymore'

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Christopher Plummer, John Plumpis
    • Directors: Erik Canuel
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
    • Language: English
    • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: Unrated
    • DVD Release Date: May 7, 2013
    • Run Time: 84 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00BC0WQWM
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,794 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on February 25, 2013
    Format: DVD
    One person drama is very tricky stuff. There has to be an outstanding script - and an actor or actress that delivers the lines like an electric current. For most of this piece, well, Christopher Plummer pulls it off.

    The time is 1942. John Barrymore is a hopeless alcoholic literally on his last legs. His mind is a swamp of lost and confused memories. But (as he says) he needs to be taken seriously so he arranges to play Shakespeare's Richard III, a role he once made famous. As Barrymore, when Plummer recites the Bard with feeling, he is darn effective. Then he lapses into an alcoholic reverie that offers less rewards. What we experience, and experience is the word, is a glimpse of a great man sinking into wretchedness. Lines of Shakespeare and episodes of Barrymore's life are pieced together the way a drunk stumbles down a street. But I felt that Plummer captured some of Barrymore's greatness. He makes you believe he could have been the actor at the end of his career.

    By the end of the play, the audience does take the man seriously. The overwhelming sentiment is "what a shame" that Barrymore did so much voluntary damage to himself.

    In summary, the movie needs no special effects because it depends on the magic of a great actor by himself alone.
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    24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By PDC on April 2, 2013
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    I have to ask, WHY is there nowhere on this page, or in any of the customer reviews (as yet), ANY mention of WILLIAM LUCE, the talented WRITER of this wonderful play which Christopher Plummer so brilliantly and unforgettably brought to life on the stage? Mr. Luce is also the author of (among many other plays) 'The Belle Of Amherst' for which Julie Harris won a richly deserved Tony Award (as did Plummer for 'Barrymore') for her luminous portrayal of Emily Dickinson. And it's a pity that the writer of such superb material is often not given adequate -- or ANY -- credit for their marvelous craft, without which it is doubtful that those Tony awards would have been forthcoming. After all, no actor performs in a vacuum, without the benefit (or sometimes hindrance) of the play in which they are appearing. So here's a huge "BRAVO" to William Luce for his glorious WORDS! Take a bow, sir!

    An important addendum: Now that I have received the DVD I am delighted to report that it contains one of the finest behind-the-scenes "making of" documentaries I've ever seen, covering both the original Broadway stage production and the recent Toronto revivial and subsequent filming of it. All too often these kinds of bonus features are quickly cobbled together almost as an afterthought. However, this intimate backstage glimpse is so good it's worth the price of the DVD all by itself. And as it contains in-depth, insightful interviews with the entire production team -- yes, including the play's author William Luce who is very nicely represented -- it addresses all of my original concerns expressed above. Anyone who watches this glorious documentary will not only know full well who first created the play itself, but will get to know the other impressive talents who cumulatively pooled their skills to create the magical experience which is 'Barrymore'. And wonderful interviews with Helen Mirren, Zoe Caldwell and Julie Andrews are added icing to an already ultra-rich cake. Buy this DVD forthwith!
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    13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By dodgyshamrock on April 1, 2013
    Format: DVD
    Not very eloquent, but after seeing this movie in the theatre, that was pretty much all I could say. I've been a huge fan of Christopher Plummer for years and this is by far the best performance I have ever seen from him. Makes me kick myself for not traveling whatever distance I had to, to see it live. I'm grateful they decided to film it. This performance should not be missed! If I could give it 10 stars, I would!
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    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. D. Braginsky on April 8, 2013
    Format: DVD
    I remember leaving a one woman show of my dear friend Ms. Julie Harris and complaining that the Playbill was dreadful as it did not list the Cast! I had been entranced as Julie WAS the cast. It is nearly impossible to do a one person show. Even more difficult for it to be a work of genius. Peter O'Toole did it in "Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell" and Julie Harris has done it twice. Christopher Plummer, an actor that Jason Robards Jr. loved to tease and call "the pompous Canadian", has reached for the stars in "Barrymore" and succeeded in grabbing all of them. John Barrymore was America's greatest actor. Christopher Plummer plays him as perfectly as could be played. Once in a generation we have a playwright and actor come together on Broadway for a non-musical, and create perfection."Barrymore" is perfection and be sure you buy an extra copy in case one breaks.
    Plummer, now well into his 80's has the look and physicality of a man 2 decades younger. He has truly come into his own in the last decade with pieces like "Beginners", "The girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and especially "Barrymore". Errol Flynn idolized Barrymore as a youngster, had Barrymore living with him as a film icon, and played him in "Too Much, Too Soon". They were Flynn''s greatest reviews. One should own Barrymore's greatest films such as "20th Century" and "Grand Hotel", as well as Errol Flynn's portrayal. It will help you to appreciate Christopher Plummer's tour de force that much more. This is a perfect play and Plummer's finest hour.Bravo, Maestro!
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    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark bennett on May 9, 2013
    Format: DVD
    This film captures one of the great pieces of theater in the last 20 years. Christopher Plummer plays John Barrymore in the twilight of his career trying to make a comeback and looking back wrapped into echos of Richard III at Bosworth Field. Its a one person show. Or maybe a one and a half person show. In any case, its a very difficult thing for anyone to pull off but Plummer does it. They use the device of a person offstage to give Plummer something mostly inert to play off of.

    Plummer also avoids the trap of these sort of shows in that he makes the character his own. Its more than imitation or recreation. I think his literal age at the point of this performance even better captures Barrymore's premature physical decay. They also keep very true to the play but manage to avoiding making it seem static or seem like filmed theater. Of course the script itself, given that the action is on stage, makes it easier. The director talks about using Camera movement to accomplish similiar effects to those accomplished with lighting in a live performance. I can't remember a play that was shot better than this one.

    The extras are interesting as well. Most of the creative people involved are heard from from writer to direct
    or to the lighting effects. Its also in some measure a reunion and retrospective from those originally involved in the production. There are also interviews with Julie Andrews and Helen Mirran.
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    Barrymore [Blu-ray]
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