CAPSULE: This is the story of the lives of a Hollywood couple, Lillian and Harold Michelson, who were the barely-sung heroes of the Hollywood film industry for six decades. Harold had an instinct for how films should look and created pitch-perfect storyboards, often transforming the director's whole vision of the film being shot. Lillian had a huge and well-collected research library to find authentic visions from around the world, from all of history, and into the future. The story of their private lives is a love story of a perfect marriage. Their visual style and knowledge shaped the look and feel of surprisingly many classic films. This film was written, produced, and directed by Daniel Raim. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
Though they only rarely got any screen credit, Harold and Lillian Michelson upgraded the quality of American filmmaking. Their instincts for how to speak visually created many of the most iconic images in film. Harold designed image compositions such as Dustin Hoffman framed by Anne Bancroft's leg in THE GRADUATE or the visual compositing of the birds on the jungle gym behind Tippi Hedren in THE BIRDS, both of which were originally suggested by Harold. People believe that Alfred Hitchcock did his own storyboarding, but apparently Hitchcock would describe a scene and Harold would think out the action and the camera angles and would turn his mental images into sequences of storyboards. Hitchcock contributed the idea, but Harold would very quickly turn it into a sequence of images as full-sized storyboards. Harold went from being a storyboard artist to being a production designer and art director, creating the look and atmosphere of a film. Harold's natural instinct for how to show a scene transformed innumerable films.
Lillian's specialty was research and collecting reference books. She built this into a very large library of reference books that remains to this day a major Hollywood filmmaking asset. If a filmmaker needed to know what Egyptian battle chariots looked like for THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, she could put her hands on a book that would describe it. For FIDDLER ON THE ROOF director Norman Jewison needed to stage the song "Matchmaker". For it Jewison needed to know what young Jewish women wore for underwear in a Russian shtetl. Lillian actually found someone who had lived in the shtetl. She once interviewed a Bolivian drug lord. He was so anxious to talk to her he wanted to send his private jet from Bolivia to pick her up and travel to Bolivia to interview him. Lillian always seemed to have the needed information at her fingertips. Or if she did not, she knew where to find it. She gave films nuance and texture and an authentic period feel.
The story of the Michelsons' long career together is told in interviews with the two, as well as with Danny DeVito, Francis Ford Coppola, and Mel Brooks. The story is profusely illustrated in storyboard art in Harold's style. They tell the story of the Michelson's marriage and their career. Harold's attitude is 100% of the time that his wife is beautiful, brilliant, and just wonderful. With the exception of Harold's one-time drinking problem Lillian's attitude is just about the same towards him.
HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY is full of anecdotes-- some amazing, some amusing. It will appeal to film historians and film buffs. It is also a romance in its way. And Harold and Lillian have the talent for being instantly likeable, and so does the film about them. I rate it a low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10. HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY will open in New York April 28 and in Los Angeles May 12.
These are some of the dozens of films that benefited from the Michelson Touch provided by one or both of the Michelsons and were mentioned in the film. This is really only scratching the surface:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, BEN-HUR, SPARTACUS, THE BIRDS, MARNIE, THE GRADUATE, CLEOPATRA, BONNIE AND CLYDE, CAPE FEAR, SCARFACE, EASY RIDER, WEST SIDE STORY, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4683668/combined
What others are saying: https://tinyurl.com/void-rt-harold-lillian
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper