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Mark Twain Tonight (1967)

Hal Holbrook , Paul Bogart  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

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Mark Twain Tonight + Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns
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Product Details

  • Actors: Hal Holbrook
  • Directors: Paul Bogart
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KULTUR VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: November 30, 1999
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003M5G9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,443 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mark Twain Tonight" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews


By the time Hal Holbrook made his big-screen debut in 1966's The Group, a lot of people were curious to see what he really looked like. This is because the now-veteran actor had spent more than a dozen years under white hair and latex touring as Mark Twain in a one-man show that remains an institution.

Always a busy big-screen actor in subordinate roles, Holbrook is probably best known as Twain (an Emmy and a Tony all but cemented that status), but he also played Abraham Lincoln in a series of TV specials and in the miniseries North and South, John Adams in the miniseries George Washington and World War II Gen. George C. Marshall in the Emmy-winning Los Alamos drama Day One.

His other work on the small screen has been ubiquitous across the decades, from The Ed Sullivan Show in the '50s to Disneyland in the early '70s to The West Wing and The Sopranos. A Holbrook character can align with the forces of good (the kindly mentor type in Wall Street) or evil (he headed the conglomerate of shady lawyers in The Firm). But in terms of career benchmarks,… the must-sees include Mark Twain Tonight! (1967, Kultur, unrated, $30): An American classic preserved. --Mike Clark, USA Today

Product Description

Hal Holbrook's classic performance captures the flamboyant humor and irreverence of Mark Twain, in this remarkable 90 minute, one man show.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hal Holbrook-Mark Twain Tonight April 30, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Having seen Hal Holbrook perform live in Mark Twain Tonight, I was delighted to aquire the DVD of his 1967 television broadcast performance. I have long believed, and this DVD confirms that Mark Twain Tonight is easily one of the greatest treasures of the American stage in the last half of the 20th Century. That Mr. Holbrook has performed Mark Twain every year since 1954, in over 2000 shows, is nothing short of miraculous. This 90 minute performance brings the wisdom, humor and humanity of one of the most morally insightful men of the 19th century to life. His words continue to be as hilarious, poignant and relevent in the 21st century as they were in his own time.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirty Years in the Making November 24, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
In 1967, I was a twenty-ish high school English teacher who sat down one evening, out of a sense of professional obligation, to watch a TV production of some guy named Hal Holbrook doing a one-man show called MARK TWAIN TONIGHT. It blew me away (though we didn't talk like that in 1967). Ever since, I've had a blank videotape sitting atop my TV, waiting to pirate a copy of the certain re-broadcast, whenever the industry moguls ran out of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns. Of course, it never happened! Instead, I paid cash money for the 33-rpm record, and scratched my way to this or that band for partly appreciative teen English students. As always, the trick to life is to keep living. Today I blew the dust off my 30 year-old videotape and set it aside. My review is thirty years in the making. All you young English teachers, take note: on a scale of one-to-five stars, this performance of Mr. Holbrook is a six. Maybe seven!
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holbrook's Mark Twain December 6, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
If there has ever been a polished performance, this is it! I've been fortunate to see Holbrook do this show live on three occasions. He really catches the essence of Twain's marvellous story- telling, which sets the tone for later artists such as Gene Shepard and Garrison Keillor. Hal Holbrook changed his show at every performance, and this video features him at the peak of his craft. From ghost stories to humorous anecdotes to shaggy dog yarns and tall tales, this video has them all. You'll want to watch it many times.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain Tonight! January 1, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain Tonight in a high school English class in 1962 and have been fascinated with Holbrook and his Twain presentation ever since. As the story goes, Holbrook took up cigar smoking to get the timber in his voice, spends three hours in make-up preparing, and has even listened to Edison recording tubes of Twain to get the voice and inflection just right. Sit back and enjoy tales from a hundred years ago that are just as germaine today. You'll soon be convinced that the man in front of you is actually Mark Twain!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wry genius returned to life October 4, 2002
By A Customer
my only regret about MARK TWAIN TONIGHT is that it's only 90 minutes. holbrook apparently has about 12 hours worth of material that his life shows alternate among. these 90 minutes include his views on man (the only animal that blushes), his mississippi adventures as seen through tom's eyes, and jim blaine's story of the ram and old man wheeler. the ram story alone is enough to be twice worth the cost of the dvd. buy the disk. holbrook is now at just the age where his twain would be even more sublime. let's hope the sales of this dvd inspire him to do another all these years after this 1967 performance. the sound and video are good (for broadcast tv) -- mainly though, holbrook is outstanding and twain is -- twain IS twain. buy it. watch it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An evening with Mark Twain January 25, 2000
This DVD welcomes us into Mark Twain's parlor for an evening of stories and anecdotes that the viewer is not likely to soon forget. Hal Holbrook researched this role by looking up old newspaper accounts, letters and film of Twain to get his characterization of Twain as accurate as possible. The illusion is complete. We don't credit Holbrook because he's not there- but Mark Twain is and we are thankful. Holbrook so masterfully weaves Twain's tales together that we don't want him to stop and we want to return to his parlor as often as possible. This DVD is a tribute to two national treasures- Mark Twain and Hal Holbrook. A must for any lover of literature or the stage.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Mark Twain to life. Buy this video. September 18, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
What a great gift for anyone to receive. First, you receive a piece of history. Second, you receive entertainment. This tape never grows old. Fantanstic when Hal Holbrook portrayed Mark Twain over 30 years ago and fantastic today. Good material never grows old.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best material, but still a great performance... September 22, 2006
Those of us old enough to have seen Holbrook do his one-man Twain show in the 1960's, and to have owned the original cast recordings "Mark Twain Tonight" and "Encore: More Mark Twain Tonight" know that this 1967 television version featured second-rate material. Yet second-rate Twain is still better than most comic/philosophical writing. (There was also an original cast recording of this show released.) Now there is a CD on Columbia Legacy called "Mark Twain Tonight" which combines some producer's idea of the best of each of the three older records. I would have picked some different bits if I had the task, but overall that is pretty good and well worth the money. Since this DVD is the only thing available showing Holbrook as Twain when Hal was still young, playing Mark at the age of 70, it will have to do. If you are a real Twain fan, or a real fan of one-person stage offerings, this should be in your collection...but get that CD also, before it goes out of print, for some even better material. In the TV show, the one mistake was spending too many of the 90 minutes on the more "serious" side of Twain---the anti-war social criticism aspect of his works. Don't sit down to watch this and expect it to be all laughs, all the time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain Tonight
This DVD is of a performance Holbrook did on CBS. I watched it when it was on originally and owned a video tape of it.
I liked it so much that I wanted a cleaner copy on DVD. Read more
Published 1 month ago by William Gathergood
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal
This is the original tv production. Others available only contain selected parts. This is the Mark Twain that you rememberer.
Published 1 month ago by Bobby Wooley
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best Mark Twain!
See quite a few folks do versions of this presentation, but Hal Holbrook is still the best one we've seen.
Published 1 month ago by The Old Teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW
Hal Holbrook brings MArk Twain alive again. I have seen Holbrook performing live as MArk Twain and he is amazing. This video captures that feeling. Read more
Published 1 month ago by avidreader
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit of history.
If you like the work of Mark Twain and you want to be transported back to his time having an evening with him. This is a good as it gets. Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. Halvorsen
5.0 out of 5 stars If there's anything funnier I haven't met it
If you're a fan of the angelically irreverent Mark Twain, there's a *very* high probability you will enjoy this. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John McConnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain Tonight
Excellent VHS. Makes you feel like you are actual listening to Mark Twain. Hal Holbrook did an excellent in Mark Twain.
I like his smoking and going off. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alexander Berkenhoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain Tonight
I remember watching this broadcast on television many years and laughing out loud. Mark Twain was probably this country's greatest humorist and Hal Holbrook portrays him... Read more
Published 3 months ago by William
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps...the best ever.
Now I am a two-bit small time actor, and here is something I remembered from my youth. Hal has here the perhaps greates one-man show ever put on film. Read more
Published 3 months ago by cairneylad
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific
Holbrook's personification of "Mark Twain" is supurb.--so much so that I got and/or passed along copies to my two sons.
Published 3 months ago by Carl Borklund
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