Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon Reviews

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½ May 14, 2015
With a curiosity about the gay side of the pornography industry, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon sounded like an interesting piece of history's underbelly.

The first line of dialogue in Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon immediately establishes the answer that everyone wants to ask a porn star: why did you enter the industry? Jack Wrangler's answer is intriguing as it goes beyond the simplistic answer that it is an easy path to money, and that immediately sets the idea that the subject of the documentary is going to be an interesting one. As the story unfolds, we really get a sense of why. Jack Wrangler is a very interesting man, not so much for his pornographic career but because of how much he defied the conventions that stereotyped the gay community for so long during the more homophobic era of the late 20th century. We get a sense of how he changed the concept of masculinity in his heyday by playing the stereotypical cowboy archetype into his pornographic persona and how that led viewers to understand that the "limp-wristed" gay stereotype is little more than a stereotype. The message in Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is that a man in the porn industry changed the face of homosexual culture forever. Yet even though that is the message, it is not the easiest thing to feel due to the simplistic manner in which the documentary is constructed.
If you've seen Inside Deep Throat, you'd know that the pornographic industry is a seedy one which is rooted in disrespecting its stars for the sake of a profit, with Linda Lovelace's story compiling a history of physical and sexual abuse. It is interesting to see it from the perspective of a different gender this time around. The industry is seen as more positive from the perspective of a male performer and we get an understanding of how Jack Wrangler actually made progress for the way gays were viewed in society. But we do not look into this too deeply. Inside Deep Throat could have had more depth, but it emphasized the way that it changed the porn industry and the life of the many people involved well enough. With Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon, the focus is solely on one person which is fair enough considering that it is his story. Yet he is not given enough depth to truly justify a full 82 minutes surrounding him, especially when the filmmaking feels so mediocre.
Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is in such a rush to tell the entire story and not mess around that it proceeds at an incredibly fast pace. Since it only runs for a time period of 82 minutes and is seriously limited in the quantity of people it has interviewed to tell the full story, reserving most of it for the perspective of the titular man Jack Wrangler. Because of that, it feels like a lot of the time that Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon does not take a second to catch its breath and ask why the interviewees feel the way they do about certain things. We get a sense of what happened, but we do not always get a sense of why. Though Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is an effective depiction of the career of Jack Wrangler, it hardly feels like there is much of a sense of depth in it all. One factor for this is because Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon actually has very few people to interview and so the perspective of Jack Wrangler's life is very limited with the full scope of his described legacy not being felt by the way that Jeffrey Schwarz handles his life story. Though this film is clearly a very personal piece for him, Jeffrey Schwarz feels distant from the feature because he looks at everything in a rather theoretical manner. He successfully gets a lot out of direct interviews with Jack Wrangler himself which gives us all a valid sense of his perspective on his own life story, but the fact is that Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is in such a rush to tell its story that it forgets what it should honestly be doing and ends up feeling distant from its subject matter as if it were a TV movie funded by MTV. Frankly, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon works more as a reconstruction of the events of Jack Wrangler's life more than anything because it spends so much time talking about that, but due to the fact that it fails to examine its more complex themes with substance or effective drama, the end result is a fast paced but hollow recreation of Jack Wrangler which really fails to go as deep as anatomy, regardless of what the title may suggest.
I will certainly say though that Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon did give me a sensible piece of education on the way that gay culture has developed over time as well as the I learned that the commercialisation of the gay porn industry was one of the most notable expressions of gay culture during the free love time period of the 1970's and beyond. The fact that Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon is so neutral approaching its material may lack depth, but at the same time it gives a simple and clear perspective on the fact that gay culture is not as complicated as the modern media may lead it to be. So the simplicity in Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon does allow it to take an easygoing and casual look at the material which viewers do not have to desensitise themselves to appreciate.

So Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon has an interesting story to tell and gains momentum thanks to the fact that it has an effective interview with the subject itself for much of the film, but the limited extent that it actually gets involved in its material, the rushed pace and few people that it actually interviews gives it the credit of an MTV TV documentary short.
½ January 10, 2011
gettin it up, gettin it on and gettin it off. gotta luv documentary :p
½ September 19, 2010
Enjoyable documentary using an array of rapidly edited interviews, stills and clips. Wrangler talks candidly about his life, sexuality and feelings.
March 25, 2010
Fantastic movie of a simpler time in life.
December 30, 2009
The outrageous story of 1970s porn icon Jack Wrangler, and how he rose to the top of the gay, and then straight, adult film industry.
December 19, 2009
This is an excellent documentary, I was not that familiar with Jack Wrangler, But he is certainly a fascinating person, and someone who would be interesting to know. Great interviews, especially the ones with him. Good use of footage, well edited together.
December 19, 2009
This is an excellent documentary, I was not that familiar with Jack Wrangler, But he is certainly a fascinating person, and someone who would be interesting to know. Great interviews, especially the ones with him. Good use of footage, well edited together.
½ December 18, 2009
This 2008 documentary chronicles the life of Jack Stillman (aka Jack Wrangler), who was the first gay porn star. Wrangler starred in the first hardcore gay films made in the 70's although eventually switched over to straight porn.

In the 80's, he met and eventually married a woman -- jazz singer Margaret Whiting. He got out of the porn industry early enough to avoid the AIDS crisis and transitioned his life fully to musical theater. It's a pretty fascinating story and was fortunately told before he passed away this Spring due to emphysema.
September 12, 2009
‚??I didn't want to be wanted for my intellect or my wit. I wanted to be lusted after.‚?? Jack Wrangler is now one of my top fantasy fucks with people whether dead or alive. Although it's great that he gets a better career in the theater after his part in gay and straight porn flicks, I think he will always be remembered by others as a gay icon, that well-built, sexy and masculine gay porn star and that embodiment of gay sexuality. Oohh, that plaid work shirt.
September 4, 2009
Very entertaining!!!! From the life and times of a gay porn actor from the 70's and 80's, to his strong marriage to Margaret Whiting today... this documentary uses a great sense of humor and an honest approach to his struggles growing up. Wrangler did things his way, creating his own rules along the way! The documentary also does a great job exploring gay pride history, showing Wrangler's unknowingly efforts in helping ignite the gay pride movement in 1969.
May 15, 2009
Mycket bra dokumentär, jag var inte bekant med Jack Wrangler sedan tidigare, kanske sett honom i nån straight film men aldrig tänkt på det, klippen som visas ur hans gay filmer är extremt underhållande, han är macho cowboy, macho sjöman, macho byggnadsarbetare, ja lite Village People, när man set en timme av dokumentären så hajar man att alltid började med sin akt med gnida sig över bröstet och andas tugnt och vicka lite på höfterna,jag blev impad av honom, tror jag måste försöka få tag på någon av gay rökarna från 70 talet.
May 12, 2009
Candid and stranger than fiction documentary.
April 5, 2009
Who says you can't learn anything watching porn! On suggestion of my BF, we went to see this documentary about the first big (gay) porn star of America, his childhood, his growing up in the conservative 50s and 60s and his way to the top (and bottem) of the (adult) film world. Against my expectations an interesting and personal view of a figure one might normally just put off as buff and stupid and leave at that. Still, also a lot of silliness and brow-raising commentaries on scenes which might better have been left uncommented.
February 16, 2009
interesting film about someone i knew nothing about.
January 1, 2009
Wrangler is a singular celebrity, one who has titillated ME on many an occasion. Seeing this documentary was very enjoyable, and I have a new found respect for something besides Jack's sex drive and equipment. His life and the creation of his sexual persona is truly fascinating. The fact he escaped AIDS is miraculous, and I honestly did not know he escaped the plague completely---so this was also a very educational experience.
December 14, 2008
Great documentary. A gay porn star shooting straight porn, then marrying a women is really rare and unexpectable.
½ December 14, 2008
Not a bad doc but a bit too sanitized, especially given the subject matter. At times it seemed more like a banal episode of Biography rather than an in-depth look at an ex-gay porn star. I think it's admirable how Wrangler was able to achieve all that he did but instead of an unbiased examination of his life the film just ends up being an extension of what he has based his entire career on: exaggerated, shameless self-promotion.
December 12, 2008
M√°s un informercial que documental; vale la pena por el eye candy :P
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