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  • ursafilms


I don't like white-washed docs. They're the worst form of revisionist history. They don't tell the viewer lies directly but do by NOT covering the uncomfortable parts of the titular subject. And that's what James Adolphus does with Being Mary Tyler Moore.

Mary Tyler Moore, "America's Sweetheart," had two big hit series, The Dick Van Dyke Show, where she played Rob Petrie's (Van Dyke) wife, Laura Petrie. The show ran for five seasons, 1961-1966, and went off the air on top. Moore, along with Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Carl Reiner, and Richard Deacon, formed one of the first and best ensemble casts.

Mary moved on from the show and starred in a train wreck of a Broadway musical, Breakfast at Tiffanys, where she played Holly Golightly. A few forgettable feature films, save for a supporting part in Thoroughly Modern Millie, followed. Moore's career headed to HasBeenLand.

In 1971, The Mary Tyler Moore show debuted and America's Sweetheart returned with another great ensemble cast, Edward Asner, Ted Knight, Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, and Cloris Leachman filled our Friday nights for seven seasons, and, again, went off the air on top.

Next, Moore starred in Ordinary People and returned to Broadway with a triumphant, Whose Life Is It Anyway? Both the film and film entertained audiences in the early 1980s.

Then like Greta Garbo, she disappeared. In fairness, not entirely. Short-lived TV shows, almost cameo like roles in other series, and an occasional TV movie fill her IMDB, but nothing of consequence in terms of creative heft.

What did the doc say about this stretch from 1982 to her death in 2017? Thirty-five years is an eternity for someone of such enormous talent.

Some point to her diabetes, a debilitating and life-shortening ailment. However, the rare, unresolved AND uninvestigated, issue regarding her trips to rehab and an honest admission by Mary point to a lifelong battle with alcohol.

And that is a subject the filmmaker does not address.

Any life is an odyssey which includes many successes and failures. Ms. Moore sat at the top of the TV world in the 60s and 70s. She appeared in one of the greatest films of all time, and was a Broadway star briefly.

But Ms. Moore drank. Cudgeling the viewer with her contributions to feminism for the first 90 minutes of the doc, and then spending too little time on the death of her son (Probable suicide), and her lifetime battle with alcoholism ain't a fair measure of the woman.

Being Mary Tyler Moore is a mediocre documentary about a significant figure in the early and golden days of television. Ms. Moore also illuminated the sky for a short time in Hollywood and The Great White Way.

By not telling the entire story is to lessen the impact of her significant and transcendent roles as Laurie Petrie, Mary Richards, Beth Jarrett, and Claire Harrison.

A lesson to all those doc makers out there.

Tell the whole story, or don't bother us.


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