Harold And Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

Harold And Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2017)

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Movie fans know the work of Harold and Lillian Michelson, even if they don't recognize the names. Working largely uncredited in the Hollywood system, storyboard artist Harold and film researcher Lillian left an indelible mark on classics by Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski and many more. Through an engaging mix of love letters, film clips and candid conversations with Harold and Lillian, Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola and others, this deeply engaging documentary from Academy Award (R)-nominated director Daniel Raim offers both a moving portrait of a marriage and a celebration of the unknown talents that help shape the films we love.

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Critic Reviews for Harold And Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (8)

But make no mistake: The Michelsons have a lot more going for them than their marital longevity. As the documentary makes clear, both Harold and Lillian made integral contributions to some of the most iconic movies in Hollywood history.

May 19, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

A passionate and beguiling movie-love documentary that shines a light on two of the unsung artisan heroes of Hollywood.

May 12, 2017 | Full Review…

The special kind of history project that can expand your film knowledge as much as it might warm your heart.

May 12, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

With "Harold and Lillian," Raim gives these perfectly matched behind-the-scenes stars the spotlight they've long deserved.

May 11, 2017 | Full Review…

Bottom line: A Hollywood marriage can be sublime and inspiring, but it's always an adventure.

April 27, 2017 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Like flipping through misplaced leaves in a photo book, the documentary maintains a free-flowing tone as it uncovers the work that went into creating some of the indelible scenes in Hollywood history.

April 27, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Harold And Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

A STORYBOARD ROMANCE - My Review of HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY (3 Stars) Unsung heroes in the film business don't get any more unsung than Harold and Lillian MIchelson, but this documentary by Academy Award nominated director, Daniel Raim should go a long way towards giving this couple their due. It's not a great film, not particularly delving very deep, a bit overlong, but I'm thrilled there's a record of the pair. Harold was a Storyboard Artist turned Production Designer who worked on such legendary films as THE BIRDS and THE GRADUATE, often uncredited. As such, he helped establish some of the most iconic shots in cinema history. Love that scene where Dustin Hoffman enters the room and is seen through Anne Bancroft's bent leg? Thank Harold for that indelible image. Lillian ran a research library which bounced from studio to studio over the years, providing in-depth details for filmmakers long before the internet rendered her services obsolete. Married for over 60 years, the couple made a great pair who literally were the backbone of the industry. Sure, oftentimes directors have a strong hand in what Storyboard Artists draw, but Harold proved hugely influential to the final outcomes of so many films. A stunning comparison of his storyboards with images from WINTER KILLS, for example, proves that behind every great director, apparently sat Harold Michelson. Through archival interviews, Raim shows us a kind, intensely knowledgable Harold who knew the nuts and bolts of filmmaking better than most directors. Even more touching is his love for Lillian. Moving out to California ahead of her, when they barely knew each other, Harold would write her very sweet, and sometimes very carnal love letters. Taking a huge risk, Lillian, raised in orphanages and not Harold's families' "pick" as a wife for him, moved out to LA to join him, hardly able to even remember what he looked like. Remember, this is way before selfies and FaceTime would have solved that problem. For her part, Lillian researched movies the old fashioned way. She would meet with some pretty shady characters to get the details just right for those who used her services. Drug dealers and mob bosses weren't off limits to her. My favorite anecdote involved her hanging out in front of Canter's Deli to interview elderly Russian women in order to find out what their underwear looked like. In any other circumstance, she would have been labeled a "perv", but she was researching looks for the daughters in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and 19th Century Russia failed to record images of women in their bloomers. Take that, Google! Any film lover will appreciate this documentary, but in the spirit of criticism, I put this under the category of "We all laughed and had a good time". In other words, there's no mud slung and the subjects don't get too candid about their personal lives. It's almost touching how Lillian finds dignity in NOT revealing too much. It reminded me of the documentary GOOD OL' FREDA, wherein the Beatles' secretary also refused to dish too much dirt. It almost forces you to recalibrate your thought process from too many Kardashians and allow a "nice" story to unfold. If cinema is important to you, there could be worse ways to spend your time than this good-natured time capsule.

Glenn Gaylord
Glenn Gaylord

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