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July 24, 2010

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Hefner Director Brigitte Berman's effortless documentary about the publishing genius who started Playboy magazine with a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe, is a celebration of the generational epochs that Hugh Hefner has influenced. Fascinating are Hefner's colorful direct-to-camera tales of creative breakthroughs that he continues to make. A plethora of insightful interview clips with people like feminist author Susan Brownmiller, Tony Bennett, cartoonist Gahan Wilson, George Lucas, Dick Cavett, and Gene Simmons contribute to a wide range of ideas, concepts, and perspectives relating to Hefner's utopic vision. Hefner's early revolutionary ideas about issues such as sex, homosexuality, racial equality came out of the magazine's high level of literary content from writers like John Updike and Ray Bradbury. The ever-smiling boy wonder's variety television shows ("Playboy's Penthouse" and "Playboy After Dark" - 1959-1970)  provide the clearest expression of the entrepreneur's social integrity and responsibility. Black-listed performers like Pete Seeger, Lenny Bruce, and Lou Adler performed on Hefner's show as an act of lead-by-example social correction. After seeing this engrossing documentary, Hugh Hefner might just be your new favorite humanitarian.

Not Rated. 124 mins. (A) (Five Stars - out of five/no halves)


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