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Category:    Home > Reviews > Biography > History > Sports > Boxing > Politics > Vietnam > Communism > Presidency > Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth (2012/MVD DVD)/Fidel (1971/Cinema Libre DVD)/The Clintons: An American Odyssey (2012/Image DVD)

Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth (2012/MVD DVD)/Fidel (1971/Cinema Libre DVD)/The Clintons: An American Odyssey (2012/Image DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C/C/C+     Extras: D/C+/D     Films: B-/C+/B



Here are three biography releases of four key historical figures, three of whom are political and one who became so.



Ali: The Man, The Moves, The Mouth (2012) is hosted by the recently deceased former boxer Bert Randolph Sugar who covers this nicely done hour of vintage and classic footage of Muhammad Ali from his early Cassius Clay years to his boxing ring victories, to his religious and name conversion, to his battle against the U.S. Government over Vietnam, to his becoming a legend and why.  That is a short period of time and you would think it would come up short, but there are more than enough great clips here that need to be seen and re-seen, everyone should catch this disc if they are interested in the man and the time.  There are no extras, but I liked this as it stands despite lack of length.



Saul Landau’s Fidel (1971) is a 95 minutes-long program originally released on TV, but here it is on DVD in its full length, passed off as an interview documentary, but the resulting film is not quite that.  Though Landau did go to Cuba and talk to Castro, most of the film is Agit-Prop communist propaganda footage supplied by the government, so calling it a documentary is a bit of a stretch.  In addition, whether you like Castro or not, this is slanted to make him look good, as if he never censored or oppressed anyone, saying he does not in the name of “freeing” his “people” from “imperialist” control on one of the greatest con jobs of the last two centuries.


It still allows some things about him unintentionally to slip, but Castro knows how to play for the camera.  We also see historical footage of the events that helped him take power, hear about Che Guevara (did he, The CIA or both have him killed?) and talk about the future that was and also turned out not to be.  The result is an interesting historical document, but one that is definitely a propaganda piece as much as anything else.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Landau and Cuba & Fidel (1974) short film (about 24 minutes) that shows the country to its advantage, but still plays like propaganda.  Shot on 16mm film, this is an old analog video copy.



Finally we have Robert D. Kline’s The Clintons: An American Odyssey (2012) narrated by David Purdham showing the biographical life of Bill Clinton, his early filmed meeting with John F. Kennedy, the meeting and union of he and Hillary Rodham Clinton, his further political life, how he became President, what it is like to have high standards when a President can speak extremely well and get things done, the sex scandal overplayed by his enemies to undermine his legacy and work, his survival of that, his endurance and hints of the future of the man Chris Matthews rightly calls “President Of the World”.


There are no extras here either, but I really enjoyed the rich mix of key archival footage throughout and how well it was edited and put together.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a sequel to this one down the line.



The 1.33 X 1 on Ali has some rough footage, but also has some good footage, while the 1.33 X 1 frame on Fidel has been centered in an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 but comes from A somewhat faded and color limited print despite some definition throughout.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Clinton is mostly form analog NTSC video with some film footage and stills.  The result is that all three releases have their rough spots, softness and are what you would expect from such works made from and/or of older footage.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on all three DVDs vary with Ali mostly Mono, Fidel all Mono and Clinton a mix of simple Stereo and Mono, making it the sonic champ by default.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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