6.9/10
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The Last Impresario (2013)

The most famous person you have never heard of

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Robert Fox ...
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Bill Oddie ...
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Storyline

Michael White might just be the most famous person you've never heard of. A notorious London theatre and film impresario, he produced over 300 shows and movies over the last 50 years. Bringing to the stage the risqué productions of Oh! Calcutta!, The Rocky Horror Show and to the screen Monty Python's The Holy Grail, as well as introducing Merce Cunningham, Pina Bausch and Yoko Ono to London audiences, he irrevocably shaped the cultural scene of the 1970s London. Playboy, gambler, bon vivant, friend of the rich and famous, he is now in his late seventies and still enjoys partying like there's no tomorrow. In this intimate documentary, filmmaker Gracie Otto introduces us to this larger-than-life phenomenon. Featuring interviews with 50 of his closest friends including Anna Wintour, Kate Moss, John Waters and Barry Humphries and, of course, the man himself, Otto pays a vibrant tribute to a fascinating entertainer. Written by London Film Festival

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26 June 2014 (Australia)  »

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Mannen bakom stjärnorna  »

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All My Famous Friends
4 December 2014 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. In the biographical documentary genre, a stream of talking heads is ordinarily my least favorite approach. However, director Gracie Otto (sister of actress Miranda) understands that when your subject is "the most famous person you've never heard of", it's pretty impressive and effective to line-up 50+ celebrities to offer their thoughts and memories of the man.

Michael White. Maybe you know the name, maybe you don't. Even before the opening credits, we get rapid-fire celebrity descriptions of Mr. White and his impact on theatre, film and the creative society of the 1960's and 70's. Director Otto explains how she first noticed Mr. White at the Cannes Film Festival as a slew of celebrities paid their respects. She then began her research into this most interesting man whose 50 year career has left quite a personal stamp.

We hear descriptions such as "he likes people" and he "likes being where the action is". This about a man who grew up in Scotland, was educated in Switzerland, and worked in New York … before making a real mark in London's West End Theatre district. His infamous dinner parties allowed paths to cross between the brightest in stage, art, film, and publishing. He had an eye for talent outside the mainstream – experimental and avant garde appealed to him … those who pushed the envelope (or ignored it completely). Because of this, his sphere of influence included such diverse personalities as Pina Bausch, Yoko Ono, John Waters and Kate Moss. His stage production of "Oh! Calcutta" was a major cultural breakthrough and led to others such as the original "Rocky Horror Show", and the iconic comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

When Ms. Otto asks him why he has so many friends, Mr. White replies that "you never lose a friend". This comes after we have learned that powerful music producer Lou Adler took advantage of him during negotiations for the Rocky Horror rights in the U.S. White does acknowledge that he has been "cheated" a few times over the years. Another apt description is that he is "drawn to excitement more than money". It's then that we learn of his incredible archive of 30,000 photographs – from a time before the paparazzi ruled the world.

The odd font style makes some of the on screen graphics difficult to read, but the music reminds us that Michael White's legacy from the swinging 60's as a playboy and gambling Producer is quite secure Today Mr. White lives a modest life, and periodically has to auction his collections to raise funds. He has had a couple of strokes, walks with the aid of two canes, and is sometimes difficult to understand. He still has regular dinners with friends … after all, with this attitude in life, one never loses a friend.


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