New York — DOC NYC Review: Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love
Director Dori Berinstein spoke to the audience following the DOC NYC screening of her film “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love”
“The Way We Were.” “Nobody Does it Better.” “What I Did for Love.” Marvin Hamlisch wrote some of the most popular songs in American music. At the age of 29, he won three Oscars. He received the Pulitzer Prize as part of the team that created the groundbreaking musical “A Chorus Line.” Hamlisch died in August 2012, and director Dori Berinstein chose to honor him in a way the show business legend would surely have appreciated: by making a documentary of his life. “Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love”, which screened at DOC NYC on Sunday, pays tribute to one of America’s most beloved composers.
Through interviews with family and colleagues, plus a treasure trove of archival material, Berinstein explores the music and the man behind it. Among the star-studded subjects: Christopher Walken and Leslie Uggams, his schoolmates at Julliard; Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Lucie Arnaz, Carole Bayer Sager, John Lithgow, Raul Esparza, and Idina Menzel. A popular guest on talk and variety shows, Hamlisch spoke about himself with frankness and humor, and made the musical process understandable. Perhaps most touching of all is his relationship with wife Terre Blair Hamlisch. He proposed to her after many hours-long chats on the phone—without having met her in person.
During the post-screening discussion Berinstein and others involved with the documentary, including composer Rupert Holmes, stepped on stage to field questions from the audience. Some were nearly in tears. Berinstein mentioned “the amazing amount of love and support” she received while making the film. An audience member wondered why Berinstein chose not to use the Hamlisch song, “What I Did for Love,” from which the documentary takes its name. “I felt we were able to address the essence of the song,” said Berinstein. “The short answer to your question is 81 minutes and 27 seconds”—the film’s running time. “You can imagine this extraordinary human being and his amazing life and how much is not in the movie,” she said.
Another person asked how long the film took to make. Berinstein responded, “We finished this past week.” She added, “Marvin passed away August 6[of 2012] and I talked to Terre about it the beginning of September. I took the first shot at his memorial.”
Berinstein said that the film would have a week-long run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in December, and then air on the PBS series “American Masters” on December 27. She finished by thanking all the people involved—“I know how much Marvin loved all of you.”
Speaking about the EGOT-winning music icon’s PBS documentary, Terre Blair Hamlisch says her husband’s unheard works fill a room and predicts future success for uncelebrated musicals “Smile” and “The Sweet Smell of Success.”
First Film Biography of Composer-Conductor Marvin Hamlisch. Featuring Exclusive Access to His Personal Archives. THE WAY HE WAS airs on December 27 on PBS
Posted on November 16, 2013 by Rahul Chadha — This post was written by DOC NYC blogger Karen Backstein
Karen Backstein has taught cinema studies in a number of New York-area universities and her reviews have appeared in CINEASTE magazine, as well as in several academic journals and anthologies.