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Toots

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Toots Shor is many things to many people, said Edward R. Murrow of the legendary Manhattan saloonkeeper in 1955. A friend to the famous, a crook to the feds, father, brother, gambler, bum, but most of all Toots Shor was the owner of America s greatest saloon. Directed by his granddaughter, TOOTS is a provocative, loving and unmistakably authentic portrait of the self-made, unapologetic and quintessentially American man who became the unlikely den-mother to the heroes of America s golden age. Politicians and gangsters, sports heroes and movie stars -- Sinatra, Gleason, Dimaggio, Ruth, Costello, Eisenhower, Nixon, Warren -- for 30 years, they all found their way to Toots eponymous saloon on New York s West 51st Street for food and drink, served up with a heaping side of insults and put downs. From its post-WW II heyday to its devastating decline in the 1970s, this film reveals as much about the city Toots loved as it does about the man and his enduring legacy. Featuring: Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, Frank Gifford, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Nick Pileggi, David Brown, Peter Duchin, Maury Allen, Dave Anderson, Bill Gallo, Joe Garagiola, Sidney Zion, Gay Talese, and Gianni Russo.

Review

Toots Shor's name hasn't lighted up a New York sign for more than 30 years, but thanks to Kristi Jacobson, his granddaughter, it will now grace movie marquees. An established documentarian before setting her sights on her mother s father, Ms. Jacobson is a rare exception to the seemingly bottomless pool of aspiring filmmakers whose on-screen familial explorations come across as self-serving therapy sessions. Her first-rate portrait of Shor, restaurant owner and saloonkeeper extraordinaire, is anything but. Instead it s both a highly entertaining look at a man who played host and drinking buddy to many of the biggest celebrities from the 1940s and 50s and a fascinating tour through post-Prohibition New York. Mixed with archival city scenes are thoughtful reminiscences by Pete Hamill, Frank Gifford, Mike Wallace and assorted other regulars from 51 West 51st Street, home to Shor s most celebrated joint, as well as samplings of television appearances and voice recordings of the spotlight-loving Shor himself. His darker days and mob ties are also touched on, as is his eventual downfall, which was sparked by an inability or unwillingness to change with the times that held strong until his death in 1977. Cheers to Ms. Jacobson for keeping alive the memory of New York nightlife s golden era, and a man who embodied it. --Laura Kern, The New York Times

A stick-to-the-ribs, meat-and-potatoes tribute to larger-than-life restaurateur Bernard "Toots" Shor and his eponymous Manhattan eatery that defined the city's halcyon years in the 1940s and 1950s, "Toots" is a nostalgic, meticulously researched full course meal from granddaughter Kristi Jacobson that will whet appetites of fest, specialty and tube diners. Subject's story is constructed around an eight-hour oral history recorded over drinks at the Drake Hotel suite of the self-described "saloon-keeper" and with Columbia U. researcher Edward Robb Ellis in 1975, two years prior to Shor's death from cancer. Rags-to-riches tale charts the genial giant's arrival in the big city from South Philly in the early 1930s. A "kid on the hustle," Shor describes how he was noticed by mobsters and soon ascended from speakeasy bouncer to restaurateur thusly: "One night I flattened a Revenue guy." The legendary saloon bearing Shor's name opened at 51 W. 51st St. in April 1940, and was an immediate hit with sportswriters, athletes, politicians and mobsters -- often there at the same time, eyeing each other across the room. Frank Gifford remembers Shor's disarming greeting of "I'm Tootsie, the pretty Jew," while Joe Garagiola recalls Shor never called him anything but "Crumbum" or "Dago." Unlike many of today's watering holes, anyone with cash for a drink could belly up to the legendary round bar next to the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Robinson and Jackie Gleason. There were no velvet ropes; there was an unwritten rule against autograph seeking; and, as Jacobson wrote in a 2004 New York Times article during the pic's production, there wasn't a single TV in the joint. (As bandleader Peter Duchin wistfully points out, explaining the gulf today between player and fan, "How can you possibly sit and have a drink with a guy who's making $8 million to hit a baseball?") Pic is brimming with memorable quips and stories from a cavalcade of quintessential New Yorkers, evoking a time, and attitudes, long gone. Author Nick Pileggi describes post-war New York City as "a Damon Runyon land, a world of lovable rogues," while Gay Talese points out that "restaurants are not about food, they're about endorsing character." Shor daughter Kerry, raised a Catholic by Shor's wife of 40 years, Baby, remembers her dad showing up at the last minute for her early morning confirmation, after a night of carousing, arm-in-arm with John Wayne. "Somebody called it a cathedral, Toots's cathedral," says one former employee. "But I don't think there was much prayin' goin' on." Two tall tales involving pal Gleason's legendarily prodigious thirst are anecdotal high points. Jacobson doesn't pull punches on granddad's involvement with such shady underworld figures as Frank Costello. "He knew them all, the mob guys," says Gifford. "He liked them ... And why not? They gave him the opportunity to become Toots Shor." Tech credits are swell, with fresh-feeling archival footage punctuated by shrewd use of clips from Shor's appearances on "This Is Your Life," Edward R. Murrow's "Person to Person" and Mike Wallace's early interview program. "Your granddad liked his glass more than most," Wallace tells off-camera helmer with a sly grin. --Eddie Cockrell, Variety

The wonderful documentary "Toots" is a time capsule of New York City in the 1950s, painting a vivid portrait of the city's most colorful and arguably best-known restaurateur (he preferred the term "saloon keeper"), former Prohibition bouncer Bernard "Toots" Shor. Filmmaker Kristi Jacobson, Shor's granddaughter, collects some amazing archival footage and still photographs - as well as candid interviews with a Who's Who of Shor pals such as Mike Wallace and Frank Gifford - to embellish an oral history that Toots recorded two years before he died penniless in 1977. Though Shor had underworld connections, that didn't stop his eponymous restaurant on West 51st Street from attracting top names from the worlds of sports (Joe DiMaggio), entertainment (Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason) and politics (Richard Nixon and Chief Justice Earl Warren) - all of whom the towering Shor lovingly mocked as "crum-bums." Shor became a relic when his style of hard-drinking nightlife became passé in the '60s and the IRS shut him down, but "Shor" is a well-deserved toast to a quintessential New Yorker of the post-World War II era. --Lou Lumenick, NY Post

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Toots Shor (featured), Walter Cronkite, Frank Gifford, Nicholas Pileggi, Gianni Russo
  • Directors: Kristi Jacobson
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • 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: IndiePix
  • DVD Release Date: January 13, 2009
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001E8NUCM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,553 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Toots" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Huffman on January 4, 2009
Format: DVD
Young and old will love this movie and experience the life of Toots Shor. There is no question that his saloon was the "it" place in New York City and helped shaped an era. The photos are amazing and the stories and tales captivate viewers. The director, Kristi Jacobson did an exceptional job sharing his life. I highly recommend this film!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Helga Campbell on October 3, 2008
Format: DVD
This movie takes you back to the New York's golden age, when women got thier hair done to go out to dinner and men wore suits to the go see the Dodger's play. In the middle of it all was Toots Shore, restaurant owner and friend of many, if you had a dollar you could go ot Toots and have a drink. My grandparents and parents told me of the great times they had there, and after seeing the film, I only wish I could've been there with them.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Rizzuto on December 26, 2008
Format: DVD
This movie is absolutley one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time. It is a feel good movie about one of the best saloons in NYC during the Golden Age. From playing pranks on Jackie Gleason to having a full blown fight with Joe DiMaggio (Toots called her a "whore"), Toots Shor was an unbelievable man with a personality we would all be envious of.

His saloon was THE place to be back in the 50's and 60's. No matter who you were, you were always welcome. NO velvet ropes at Toots, everyone was VIP!

Buy this DVD today and see some amazing interviews with legends like Whitey Ford and Frank Gifford. YOu won't be disappointed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gracie on June 25, 2011
Format: DVD
I could watch this over and over. Loved everything about it. The only thing I didn't like is that I didn't want it to end. Buy it, you won't be sorry. It will make you wish you could live it.
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By David V. Levine on March 16, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of the finest documentaries ever. It is in the classic class and anyone whoever hung-out at a fun lounge/restaurant that also catered to show biz and sports stars will see themselves reflected. I would have loved dropping into Toots Shor's place in its 40's and 50's heydays. No need to dream about it because Toot's great saloon has reopened forever on this DVD. See Jackie Gleason lying drunk on the floor. Walter Cronkite tells about Toots challenging Gleason to a foot race around the block. See DiMaggio and Monroe, Whitey Ford, Mantle, Berra, underworld and political figures. Even US Presidents dropped by.The narration and story are unfolding fun throughout the hour-plus. When it's over you are enriched by the memory of a huge man who loved people, gave of himself to all and was the super host for decades. There may never be another like him. Hail, Toots!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ross Kisciras on April 12, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was an excellent documentary about a New York icon. I was very happy with the condition and price of this item.
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The film captures the life and times of a singular personality, Toots Shor. If you lived through his times or want to learn about life in New York City especially in the '50's, this film is an excellent way to view it through the lens of a riveting story.
Having seen it once before, I bought 5 copies, so my wife and I could give one each to our our four children for the recent holidays. We kept one for our own viewing and for sharing with friends (which we did just three weeks ago).
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