Film: Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel
UK PREMIER (shown as part of LIDF – London International Documentary Festival)
UK Release Date: 23rd May 2011
Director/Writer: Brigitte Berman
Bonus: Q & A with director, Brigitte Berman.
Venue: Curzon, Soho
Production Company: Metaphor Films
Hugh M. Hefner
Reverend Malcolm Boyd
Reverend Jesse Jackson
Dr. Lois Lee
Vicky McCarty Iovine
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Official Site: http://www.hughhefnerplayboyactivistrebel.com/
I really shouldn’t have attempted to get complimentary tickets to this screening – and Q & A – as I had so much to do in preparation for a trip to Berlin. But, needless to say, even with this limited time available to me I couldn’t resist the opportunity…and what followed is the reason for smiling whilst writing this, due to being glad that indeed I did opt to see it!
Patrick Hazard, director of the LIDF introduced the film. Then, we were off!
The first filmic realisation was that it isn’t just about Hugh but that he actually contributes so much of this picture in his own words.
The next thing?! The amount of ‘orange’ faces that acquaint and surround old Hugh! I mean, there’s ‘Au’ Naturale and then there’s ‘OH!’ Natural, Please!
Now, I’m indeed a man (most of the time!) but don’t let that make you think [especially females reading this] that my opinion was and is biased of this founder – the founder of the world’s most famous men’s ‘specialist’ magazine – because it is not true. I pre-empt you with the latter because of the following. Hugh comes across as a so very compassionate man. Not from what he has to say now, as he sits in front of a camera telling us various points of his life. No, also from the tale of his good deeds and search for what you could see as ‘world peace’. That is what this movie is about, you see. The real – and lesser known – life of Hugh Hefner.
Hugh campaigned for race equality, womens rights (including such aspects as birth control) and more recently started a ‘Children Of The Night’ venture, or charity to help protect children from prostitution. These are just a few of his lesser-known deeds.
Yes, its amazing that he’s 80! [It is revealed later in the Q & A that his mum apparently lived to over 100 and that perhaps therefore he would also live to such an age] He certainly has the signs of a younger man in his personality and body language.
I had to smile though, when he mentioned how moving to a different state, and therefore a new dwelling, “works very well for me” (in the context of it being a more stable and life/work environment) as we are shown a shot of absolute chaos, paperwork & books everywhere…behind him!!
There are, of course various contributors on this documentary. The funniest has to be Gene Simmonds. He makes one memorable remark about men & women and their ‘bits’.
I do feel though that this film dwells a little too much on the TV show which Hugh had, this being Playboy’s Penthouse & later Playboy After Dark. I felt that it was perhaps a promotional tool for maybe a range of DVDs soon-to-be-released, as these clips featured so many famous artists – famous worldwide [musicians/comedians] or famous in their own genres.
It’s widely known about Hugh’s relationship with a certain Jenny McCarthy, but this made something to smile about for this lowly reviewer. “What was that?” you ask… Well, it was the unintentionally ironic mention of Hugh’s involvement with ‘McCarthyism’…in the 1950’s.
From comedy – if only to myself – to sentiment, and essentially the moving clips of Vietnam, the war there and, of course (?) Hugh’s role as a do-gooder. What made me feel truly moved was the images of the Vietnamese war, the protests, protest songs and a plane load of Vietnamese babies & children helped out by Hugh & his Bunnies.
And Hugh’s big plane’s name? The “Big Bunny”, no less.
With all this apparent goodness, kindness, but also controversy & weirdness – and not to mention Mr Hefner’s fantasy mansion/s – I couldn’t help but compare him to Michael Jackson. General comparisons to MJ essentially, but certain aspects, like: Michael in his Neverland. Even his unique dress-sense makes you think of his dressing-gown being MJ’s famous glove!
Lastly, on the subject of comparisons – and my general confused state from this film’s posters and my recollection of the film “The People Versus Larry Flynt” – I couldn’t help but think how similar Hugh Hefner and Woody Harrelson seem to be in facial likeness [Woody being the one who’d played “Hussler” magazine founder, Mr Flynt].
I mean, imagine Woody being asked to play Hugh, just like he did with Larry. No way, surely. If Mr Harrelson indeed had hopes of playing the PLAYBOY king he’d surely be the ‘BOY’ who may have to ‘HUSSLE’ to ‘PLAY’ the part of Hugh Hefner. *a mini-mini sigh*
Q & A Notes & Highlights:
Briggite confessed that this project came about through her and his (Hugh’s) love for Bix Beiderbecke.
The main producer of the movie was pointed out as being at this premiere…there he was, in the audience.
The film, or more so the footage had started out with approximately 7.5 hours worth [as you’d imagine can be the way with such documentaries].
The 2.5 hour version included sons contributing and revealing interesting points about themselves & their father – so reluctantly it was lost when forced to have the movie be only a 2 hour one.
It was explained briefly that a Playboy club in London was to open about a week after this viewing, some of the audience, it seemed were already aware of that. Just the Men? … Just kidding.
There was a little bit of discussion regarding Hugh and his Objectifying…Well, that was bound to occur – Mention of it in both the film and from the audience at this Curzon.
In summary . . .
. . . you may not be so much shocked by his lifestyle but perhaps by the oranges faces that surround him.