Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: 'Produced by George Martin'

A good documentary not only tells its subject’s tale but also reflects that subject’s nature. Charming, homey, witty, and pastorally English, Produced by George Martin is impeccably toned. Francis Hanly’s 2011 BBC doc about the fellow who masterminded almost everything The Beatles ever recorded is like a leisurely flip through the Martin family album or afternoon tea with friends such as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Michael Palin. Martin and his associates chat about a career that can only be described as spectacular in casual, borderline elegiac fashion. The effect is completely intimate, though moments are undeniably splashy, because after all these years, odd vintage footage is still being uncovered. How can that be possible when dealing with such an over-analyzed period? Yet, there it is, funny footage of The Beatles frolicking with their Madame Tussauds wax figures way back in 1964. Even more exciting is a scene capturing Cilla Black recording her mighty version of “Anyone Without a Heart” with Burt Bacharach conducting.

But let’s not stray too far off our subject, no matter how humble he may be. Even in the shadow of an entity as massive as The Beatles, George Martin remains the focus throughout the film, and he discusses his work, his innovations, his family, his hearing loss, and his dwindling years with grace and humor. He wanted to be “Rachmaninoff II” but had to settle for being the most famous and revered record producer on Earth. Not a bad backup gig.

Get Produced by George Martin at Amazon.com here:

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