American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

2012

Action / Biography / Documentary / History / Music / Romance

29
IMDb Rating 7.8 10 524

Synopsis


Uploaded By: OTTO
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Cast

Judy Garland as Herself
Meryl Streep as Herself
Natalie Wood as Herself
Jack Nicholson as Himself
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
812.47 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 55 min
P/S 0 / 6
1.84 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 55 min
P/S 4 / 4

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Miles-10 8 / 10

Johnny Carson, Big and Small

In one of the clips from the "Tonight Show" episodes used in this documentary, Johnny Carson has just stepped on stage and the audience is giving him a seemingly interminable ovation, but Carson begs them to stop. If his head gets any bigger, he tells them, his crown will no longer fit. Carson is unknown to a whole generation now. Even people born in the 1980s do not remember him because he was on TV after their bedtimes, and unless their parents or older siblings shared their VCR recordings of the previous night's show, most kids would have found Carson over their heads. (There were exceptions. A compilation of skits from the "Tonight Show" were in syndication even before Carson retired, and the kids who saw those were apt to enjoy their broad humor.) Orson Welles, the worldly American actor and director, once said that the only thing he missed when he lived in Europe was that they have "no one with the genius of Johnny Carson". That was how much Carson meant. In the movie "Fargo", there is a scene in which the criminals each hire a prostitute and have sex in a motel room. They all finish in time to turn on the TV and watch as the "Tonight Show" theme (actually called "Johnny's Theme") plays. It was what everyone in America did at 11:30 p.m. for three decades of the late twentieth century.

Aplomb is a word that almost always described Carson, except, of course, when an animal brought on the set by a zoo keeper urinated in Carson's hair, but Carson played that for laughs and got them. I think this documentary captures the essence of Carson's success. As someone says in the film, what you saw was who he really was. It was just that there were other dimensions that you did not see. He was funny and charming and open in his public persona but closed and drunkenly angry and boorish off camera, a man whose relationship with his children was so distant that once when the "Tonight Show" band leader, Doc Severenson, was spending an avuncular day with one of Carson's sons, he was stunned when the boy admitted that he had an easier, more intimate relationship with Severenson than he did with his own father.

We fans were all aware that Carson had married and divorced several times (four marriages, three divorces) and knew that there had to be Sturm und Drang behind all of that. (The documentary shows that his second wife appeared on her husband's program as a guest, but did you know that she once guest hosted?) What we also knew, which you will learn from this documentary, is that for some reason, mysterious to Carson himself when he occasionally commented on it, he married three wives whose names began with the letters "Jo". Jody, Joanne, and Joanna. The man was trying to get something right by trying again and again. But finally he married Alexis, and did not divorce, it turns out, not because they had no problems but because Carson adamantly refused to solve their problems by getting a fourth divorce; rather he was willing to give her whatever freedom she needed to avoid that.

There were also ways that Carson's inner anger came out in his comedy. He not only made jokes about his painful divorces but also about his lawyer and financial adviser who squandered some of Carson's money. And when a new NBC president made the mistake of trying to squeeze more out of Carson, the comedian opened a monologue by saying that the executive in question had gone swimming and a shark had avoided him rather than attack. "It was a professional courtesy", said Carson. (Carson eventually got everything he wanted in his next contract with NBC.) Carson and his sidekick, Ed McMahon, had an ongoing gag about Carson being annoyed with McMahon's occasional on-stage interruptions. Who knew that there was truth behind Carson's annoyance, but how clever of them to make this into part of their comedy routine rather than let it fester into an actual conflict.

Then there is the ultimate ambivalence of Carson's life. He once joked on air about the time he got a prestigious award and told his mother about the award and the of the body that had given it to him. "Well," she said, "they must know what they're doing." When she died, however, she left a box of decades-worth of newspaper clippings about her son's successes. Johnny kept that box close to him until he died. It was the most praise he had ever gotten from her. It seemed as if Carson went too soon from the world after his retirement, but it had actually been more than a decade. Years of cigarette smoking had ruined his lungs even after he had given them up.

Despite the tragedies of his life off screen, I think Carson lived a life with joy in it. He had a lot of fun and was loved by fellow performers as well as the public. Yes, he had limited privacy because every adult in America could recognize him instantly on sight, but he was highly rewarded for that. He was a multi-millionaire who could afford to give generously to charities, which he did quietly so that it was not revealed until after he died just how many hundreds of millions he had given away.

Reviewed by Chuck4Ever After 1 / 10

Two hours I'll never get back again

Why -- oh why -- did I watch this?

I found it on Netflix, and the incredible Kevin Spacey was listed as the main actor. That's pretty tempting for a major Spacey fan.

Yes, Spacey was the narrator, and he did an admirable job. But he didn't appear as himself at all.

I was hoping he would at least appear as a guest on one of the shows or offer some commentary or something.

Guess you need to be a true Carson fan to enjoy this. There's almost nothing in it for Spacey's other fans.

Shoulda known better. Would have been way more fun to watch some other Spacey gig I had already seen.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 9 / 10

Maybe it's just me, but this episode made me feel rather sad.

This episode of "American Masters" was well made--I have no complaints about this in any way. In fact, it was EXCEPTIONALLY well made and because of this it depressed me. This is because with a 'warts and all' biography, you get more than just effusive praise--you get the good AND the bad. So, while you learn about all of Johnny Carson's many on-screen successes and accolades, you also hear about what an absolutely screwed up guy he was as well. Because of this, instead of focusing on his triumphs (and this made up most of the show), I kept getting bogged down with his failings. He had a difficult mother--one who had a very hard time praising Johnny or connecting with him. In turn, he had a horrible time connecting with his own children--and seemed to be very distant. He also struggled with alcoholism (or at least a serious drinking problem) and his very public divorces. And, while there was lots of praise for him as a performer, it was sad that no one interviewed for the show ever felt close to him. It's an odd contradiction--with such a public figure having such an incredibly private life--and often, he was alone.

If you want to feel happy, don't watch this. However, if you hate biographies that gloss over problems and only paint a rosy picture (a very common problem), then this is for you. You learn a lot about the man and I can really respect the job the "American Masters" folks did with this one. Very good and the definitive biography on the man.

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