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Bert Stern: Original Mad Man

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Bert Stern: Original Mad Man is the definitive voyage into the life and work of one of America's most influential photographers. An original Madison Avenue "mad man," Stern's images helped create modern advertising.

Photographing the world's most alluring women in fashion and Hollywood for the past 50 years -- Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss and Scarlett Johansson among them -- minted Stern as a celebrity in his own right.

Here, Stern reveals his wild, untold life story to his long-time muse, filmmaker Shannah Laumeister. It seemed Stern could do no wrong, until a dramatic fall from grace. A story of self-creation; rise, fall and reinvention; exploring creativity, celebrity, and desire through the eyes of a man who got everything he wanted. Almost.


A remarkably candid and revealing documentary. Laumeister and Stern's relationship - one of muse and mentor - is intimate and complex, and this unconventional film reflects that. For Stern, taking photographs was like making love - an intense, emotional experience. The images from Marilyn Monroe's Last Sitting remain some of the most iconic and intimate celebrity portraits ever made. As a new season of 'Mad Men' premieres, it's perfectly fitting that the original mad man, Bert Stern, is receiving the accolades that his remarkable life and career deserve. --Phil Bicker, Time Magazine

Eye-opening, intriguing and timely. A highly intimate, fascinating portrait. --Frank Schleck, The Hollywood Reporter

Candid, and at times almost painful in its level of exposure. Stern says: 'I'm a prisoner of all the things I've done.' Oh, but what a whole lot of things he's done. --Antonina Jedrzejczak, Vogue Magazine

Product Details

  • Actors: Bert Stern, Shannah Laumeister, Larry Chilnick, Judith Crist, Albert D'Annibale
  • Directors: Shannah Laumeister
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: July 16, 2013
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CEJ1J6E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,499 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marty From SF HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 11, 2013
Format: DVD
First-time director Shannah Laumeister pulls together a somewhat disorienting documentary about Bert Stern, who was arguably, one of the most innovative photographers of the last century.

The story line bounces about, documenting Stern's classic American success story life. Born poor and not educated, Stern became an established and very successful photographer by his mid-twenties.

His early job working for `Look' magazine got him his chance where he became friends with Stanley Kubrick. Reluctantly interviewed, Stern discusses his life. Most of it is about his womanizing and his drug abuse. When he discusses his work, its magic - as if it was a different person. His first successful series of shots was for Smirnoff and even by today's standards; his commercial photography was new, fresh and inventive. His work with Kubrick included promotional shots for the infamous film, "Lolita". His most famous work is the series of stills called, "The Last Sitting"; a truly free and open session with Marilyn Monroe just weeks before her death. The images are mesmerizing and his genius is palpable.

Director Laumeister was one of Stern's photographic subjects, girlfriend and eventual wife. Somehow, this fact seems to cloud the films direction and the viewer is exposed to as many womanizing and drug stories as the world famous photography stories. It's a little uneven and as a documentary director, Laumeister inserts herself into the film occasionally without adding anything to the story. This is about Bert Stern.

The story is good enough that Stern's life comes across as bizarrely unique and amazingly successful. It will make you want to learn more about his work, as the film leaves too many stories incomplete. Film supplied by First Run Features for review.
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Format: DVD
As I watched this 89-minute 2011 film on DVD today, knowing that photographer Bert Stern died (at age 83) on June 26th, there was one question that Director Shannah Laumeister asks near the end the film that took on new meaning based on his recent death. She asks Stern, who has just finished telling us how bored he is with life in his older years (and comments on the thousands of photos he still has), "Who's going to handle your archives?" "I don't know", Stern replies. Then we see the auction he attends where a folio of 16 photos he took of Marilyn Monroe are sold. The price: $113,000. Two years later Stern is dead and I, for one, am curious to know if they were donated or sold to private collectors.

But we are here to discuss the film and the DVD, aren't we? I found it fascinating (as well as great DVD to test out my new flat screen HD TV). The film is on DVD (not Blu ray). A few of the other reviews I read said that they thought the film was lacking in depth and they wanted more info on Stern. I took a different approach (which may be why my rating is higher). Rather than a biography of the artist (and Stern was a creative artist as well as a photographic one), I saw this as a "portrait". The narration is by Stern and Director Laumeister does arrange the story chronologically. She is primarily an actress, though I have not seen any of the plays (mostly off-Broadway) or films she has appeared in and, as you will learn during the film, she became his model when she was 18 years old. They had an ongoing relationship - though they never married. Stern did get married at least twice and Laumeister interviews those women - one of who was not happy with Stern and tells us on camera.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ali Julia #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on July 14, 2013
Format: DVD
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. This documentary presents us a story of the life, love and work of Bert Stern. It weaves an interview with Bert Stern himself with looking at his timeless photographs. It was very interesting to hear the stories behind the famous photographs.

His photos are not just images, each one creates a story. His photo compositions were innovations, he came up with angles and backgrounds that no one has seen or imagined before. His eyes were able to isolates and defines images others did not see. I am avid photographer and really enjoyed learning of how he came up with the ideas for his photographs. Many of his compositional ideas are now taught in every photography class.

The movie covers his commercial photography, which created modern advertising as we know it, as well as portraiture work of beautiful women. We get a glimpse of his personal relationships with various models, including Marilyn Monroe. He had an ability to establish an amazing personal relationship with the model, and that intimacy came through in the pictures. He could spark something in the woman that made her come alive in the photo. The way they look at him is the way we fantasize they would look at us. He shared a piece of his passion with us, the viewer.

The movie ends with a quote which perfectly describes his photographic portraits. He said that the pictures themselves are better than making out with a woman because the pictures are for ever.

I am grateful for First Run Features for asking me to review this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to others.

Ali Julia review
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