Sep 24, 2007

Toots: Review of A Film Few Will See

My friend Cathy alerted me to the existence of a wonderful documentary about the life and times of the legendary Toots Shor, a big Jewish guy who started out as a bouncer of speakeasies in the Prohibition and ended up having the most fabulous "saloon" in town, back in the 40's and 50's when glamour was for real, everybody smoked and had two martini lunches, and going out to nightclubs was fabulous, not the crass bullshit it is today.
It was sad and delightful to see footage of Times Square in those days, before the squalor of the drug addled sixties and seventies set in. Where is our El Morocco, where is our Stork Club? Gone the way of the dodo. Alas. I wish I had seen that New York. What he have today is a sad, pathetic shadow of what used to be.
As many famed, smart New York writers tell us in the film (Nick Pileggi, Pete Hamill, Guy Talese), it was a different time, and Toots was a genius at making connections, both kosher and very non kosher. But he was loyal to his famous friends and feigned ignorance of his mob connections.
The film was made by his granddaughter and it is a touching and lovely and sad portrait, but as sweet and real as New York itself: big hearted, smart and honest. Go see it.
It's playing at the Quad, which is a serious contender for most obnoxious arthouse theater in NY.
The people there make the smug nerds who work at the Film Forum seem like Florence Nightingale.

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