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A Father, a Son - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Father...a Son...Once upon a Time in Hollywood, A (DVD)

Intimate, personal, and surprisingly candid, A Father... a Son... Once Upon a Time in Hollywood examines the dynasty of Kirk and Michael Douglas with unprecedented honesty. Because this 2005 HBO documentary was directed by actress/filmmaker Lee Grant (a close friend of the Douglases), it makes no claim of objectivity, and Grant's fawning admiration is readily apparent. On the other hand, Grant is too smart to squander this extraordinary opportunity to chronicle two generations of Hollywood success, and the Douglas family (including 83-year-old Kirk, 60-year-old Michael, and most of their extended families) participate with a warts-and-all assessment of their complex family relationships. While much of the film consists of film clips that span the length of Kirk and Michael's stellar careers, this professional material is smoothly combined with home movies, photographs, and revealing present-day interviews that emphasize the remarkable and turbulent journey that this family has taken.

Through triumphs (including Academy Awards and international honors for political activism) and tragedies (such as the death of Kirk's youngest son, Eric, from an accidental overdose), Grant shapes the Douglas saga into a universal tale of human complexity, from the chronic infidelities of father and son (both resulting in divorce from their first wives) to the hardship of Michael's struggle to emerge from his famous father's Hollywood shadow. Their long-standing dispute over the success of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (one of Kirk's pet projects, which Michael ultimately coproduced without Kirk's involvement) remains a sticky point, and Michael openly acknowledges that Kirk was not a good father in their early years as a family. But what ultimately emerges, through the probing lenses of Grant's multiple cameras, is a decades-long process of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the father-son conversations here literally glow with mutual love and respect, strengthened by Kirk's tenacious recovery from a stroke in 1996. You could remove fame and wealth from this familial equation, and the Douglas saga would still be a remarkable reflection of the American dream, or as Kirk calls it, "the tragedy of failure, and the tragedy of success." Touching and joyously generous in spirit, Grant's film is truly one-of-a-kind. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Interview with filmmaker Lee Grant
  • Interview with Danny DeVito
  • A tribute to Eric Douglas
  • Douglas Family Home Movies
  • Kirk in Hollywood
  • Kirk and Anne Douglas’ renewed wedding vows

Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.0), English (Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BBOU9A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,465 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Top Customer Reviews

By David Webb on April 5, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this unique documentary. It is ironic that Lee Grant directed it because she was blacklisted in the early 50s after appearing with Kirk Douglas as a young woman. She lost over a decade of her career because of this! Kirk helped to break the blacklist and lived to work with Lee again. I am a big Kirk Douglas fan and I also like Michael. Michael has equaled or surpassed his father's film career, and like his father, he has not shied away from controversial roles. Both men displayed a wicked sense of humor which adds enormously to this project.
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Format: DVD
Let's put it this way, if you don't like Kirk Douglas, then you have a big problem.

Yes, Kirk freely admits in this movie that he was a womanizer.

And, yes, his two oldest children, Michael and Robert, do point out that he didn't spend nearly enough time with them when they were growing up -- Robert characterizing his fathert at times as a "bully" -- Michael saying that he knew when to "stay away."

But saying you're not charmed, mesmerized, taken in, enchanted, fascinated and awed by Kirk Douglas ... you might as well say you're indifferent to the sun or the stars or to some equally remarkable natural phenomenon.

If there's a better acting job than the one Kirk Douglas di in "Lust for Life," I haven't seen it; and I've seen lots and lots of movies. I'm a tough guy, see, and I would say that of all the films I've seen three maybe four of them made me cry. "Lust for Life" was one of them. ... Vincent would have been proud.

I also admire what Kirk Douglas did in giving screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten," his onscreen props on "Spartacus," basically saying to the anticommunist witch hunters to "go ahead, make something of it."

Even though Spartacus came out toward the end of the witch hunting years, there were no doubt plenty of people in Hollywood who would have said, "Why bother? Why look for trouble?" So Kirk Douglas "giving Dalton Trumbo back his name," as Dalton Trumbo put it in a letter to Kirk, meant a great deal to a great many people, in and out of Hollywood. It's too bad there's not more of that nowadays in the entertainment industry.

It's wonderful in this documentary to see the rapport between Kirk and his eldest son Michael Douglas, as they reminisce over cake and coffee.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very touching documentary. I think it was well worth watching and I will be loaning it to interested friends that I know will enjoy it also.
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