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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Acting > From Russia To Hollywood (Documentary)

From Russia To Hollywood


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: B     Sound: B



Lee Strasberg was a great actor and teacher of actors, but just as prominent was Michael Chekhov, who came from the Russian School of thought on acting and the stage.  Even less known is George Shdanoff, an actor and director who with Chekhov brought this all From Russia To Hollywood.  This fine documentary was originally issued in a shorter version in the late 1990s, but is here on DVD in its longer form.


Rich in clips, new and old interview footage, trailer footage galore, and narration by no less than Gregory Peck, writer/director Frederick Keeve puts together one of the most important, vital works about how the film art grew, how actors found new realism, and how this realism scared too many in this country in power.  That brought on the infamous Hollywood Witch Hunts.


The long list of great actors is stunning, with the DVD case alone noting Lloyd Bridges (interviewed in his final months with his wife), Leslie Caron (now running a restaurant), Patricia Neal, Jack Palance, Anthony Quinn, Craig Sheffer, Robert Stack, Beatrice Straight, and Sharon Gless.  James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Alan Ladd, and Clint Eastwood are only pictured, but also discussed. All that, and that still does not begin to scratch the surface of what the program offers.


The image is usually full frame, but there are various letterboxed clips.  It looks good, even when we are dealing with analog videotape, but still offers the kind of diversity in picture quality typical of such productions.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is not bad, with the only problem about the sound being the commentary by Keeve.  The sound playing from the main program while he speaks is not low enough for him to be heard, so you have to listen extra carefully.  It is worth it, though, because he is excellent and has great facts and thoughts to offer.  The only other extra is extra interview footage.


So overall, this is a very pleasant surprise, despite some minor technical glitches.  There are many silly, stupid DVDs out there that pretend to know about or show the real Hollywood, especially some very bad independently made films (and video shot projects pretending to be films), but From Russia To Hollywood is the must-see real thing and the sooner you catch it, the better.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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