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Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An intimate look at the outspoken, flamboyant founder of the Playboy empire. With humor and insight, the film captures Hefner's fierce battles with the government, the religious right and militant feminists. Rare footage and compelling interviews with a remarkable who's who of the 20th Century American pop culture, present a brilliant and entertaining snapshot of the life of an extraordinary man and the controversies that surrounded him.

Review

A revealing portrait of the freedom-fighting man beneath the silk pajamas. --The Hollywood Reporter

The film humanizes Hefner in a way no one has attempted to do before on the big screen. --Cnn

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Hugh Hefner, Bill Maher, George Lucas, Jenny McCarthy, Gene Simmons
  • Directors: Brigitte Berman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Phase 4 Films
  • DVD Release Date: December 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0043K8LW2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,854 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

(I originally wrote this review for Chicago's DAILY HERALD Newspaper, October 29, 2010.)

"How can he be working for the devil and God at the same time?" asks Jenny McCarthy, Playboy Playmate of the Year 1994, author, and television personality.

She's referring, of course, to Hugh M. Hefner, the subject of the fascinating new documentary, "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel."

For over 50 years, Hefner, and the iconic men's magazine he founded in 1953 have never escaped controversy and criticism. The film, written and directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman, explores the humanitarian side of the man who some label a "pornographer."

"Humanitarian?" you ask.

Would it surprise you to know that in 1971, ACLU of Southern California named Hefner "Man of the Year"? In 1974, Hefner was honored for his "profound influence on legislative and judicial thought" by the San Francisco Criminal Bar Association? And in 1977, he received a Special Humanitarian Award from the Beverly Hills-Hollywood Chapter of the NAACP? And that his daughter Christie, who served as CEO of Playboy Enterprises between 1982-2008, established in 1979 the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the protection and enhancement of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution?

And how about the time when Hefner utilized his private jet, the "Big Bunny," to transport a number of Vietnamese orphans around the country to deliver them to new homes? Or how he fought for racial equality in entertainment venues, breaking the color barrier for the first time so that blacks and whites could perform together on stage and on television?
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"He is a fine gentleman."
-Mike Wallace about Hugh Hefner

HUGH HEFNER/PLAYBOY/ACTIVIST/REBEL (a/k/a HUGH HEFNER: PLAYBOY, ACTIVIST AND REBEL, 2009) is a stunning and fun biographical documentary. Produced by a Canadian company, this does not shy away from Hefner's contributions to the world via "Playboy" magazine, but it doesn't dwell unfairly on it either. It is hard to believe Hef is nearing 85, the same age as Pope Benedict. For a man heavily influenced by him, a great admirer, that doesn't make me feel exactly young again - I recall Hef when he was young, his black hair flowing, and he didn't wear silk and velvet bedclothes at the time.

Who could have remembered that Hefner was a political activist, a social reformer and kicker of sacred cows? How many people knew that Hefner shaped the fabric of society from the 1950s onward? My father read the last essay written by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King - published in "Playboy". That is a typical example of the work Hefner really did, and this film explains it through the people who were there.

Dick Gregory, the great comedian (and my father suspected he was a distant relative) got his start with Hefner. In case you didn't know, Gregory is the first successful black stand-up comedian in the world. He got his start in Hefner's first club in Chicago, and like everything Hefner, no racism allowed. Mingling equally has been a hallmark of Hefner's entourage, his way of life and his personal signature.

Hefner was also a television pioneer, with an important and influential 'night club' sort of program in the 1950s and a few later programs. He always showcased the best of all talent, and was especially fond of the counter-culture.
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This documentary is an eye opener on how Hef started the magazine and how Playboy, the company, shaped civil rights and women's rights in the 1950s/60s. A lot of information in this movie is also in the book Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and The American Dream by Steven Watts, with the book going into greater details, but by far an intriguing documentary. I like how the filmmaker uses cartoons based on Hef's early drawings to tell the story of Playboy and Hef's life. I was lucky enough to go to the premiere with Hef in attendance and I could see the looks on his face throughout the film, he really enjoyed it even with more criticizing points of Playboy mentioned by feminists. Definitely not the Playboy ideas/images I grew up with, but insightful to know how Playboy used to be in those time eras.
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This Documentary is very in depth. It has a slow pace but mainly because this is about Hugh Hefner the man, Not the just the "Playboy" Side of Him. This piece is not flashy. It is great autobiography showing the deeper side to Hef. Recommended if you want to learn more about Hugh Hefner's world. Great for any playboy collector.
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I saw this documentary on TV and had to buy the DVD. The story of how he built his empire is quite inspiring. It was interesting to hear that he saw Playboy as competing with Esquire and that he was thrilled when Playboy's circulation eclipsed theirs. The interviews with other people on what they think of Playboy--good and bad are very interesting.
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Excellent documentary of Hef's life and fame, what motivated him and what led to his success. This doesn't handle everything with kid gloves as even a lot of controversial topics are presented (feminist attacks, death of Dorothy Stratten, etc.). And even Hef's detractors are interviewed and offer their opinions on him and his life's work.

Good documentary and well-needed.
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