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Being Mary Tyler Moore

Being Mary Tyler Moore

In the new HBO Original Documentary BEING MARY TYLER MOORE, filmmaker James Adolphus weaves together a wide breadth of archival footage to tell the story of, Mary Tyler Moore, and the effect she had on the entertainment industry.

The film begins by providing context for the state of working women during the mid-century through an interview between David Susskin and Moore about her character on the Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura Petrie, where he asks some shocking and almost comically sexist questions. Moore’s response calm, but stern and she doesn’t back down or accept his commentary as she quotes the famous feminist text “The Feminine Mystique”. This scene gives us a look at the juxtaposition between her early characters and the real person, something that would follow her for the rest of her career.

One thing that stood out to me was hearing from the people who knew and loved Mary Tyler Moore, as well as those who worked with her. Her legendary co-workers, such as Ed Asner, James L. Brooks, and Betty White, shared their memories, while those from her personal life - her friends and family - were also featured, though only through audio recordings. T. Additionally, hearing the voices now legendary figures that she inspired, such as Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Rosie O'Donnell share some touching stories about how Moore influenced them.

The film's trajectory is really about her career, although it does touch on her personal life more as the film progresses. Keeping the focus on her career provides an inspiring and layered story, not only about Mary Tyler Moore, but also about ourselves, our history as a country, and the entertainment we were delivered. It's amazing to see the fights that she continually waged and won, from being the first wife on a sit-com to hang out in her house wearing pants instead of a dress in the Dick Van Dyke Show, to being able to build a show around a single woman, moving out to Minneapolis in her 30s to focus on her career, and really focusing the show on her chosen family of strong women around her in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which also provided more writing jobs for women than any other show up to that point and led to Treva Silverman becoming the first female solo writer to win an Emmy.

This film is incredibly well edited and scored. The variety of footage we get to see, from classic sit-down interviews to home videos, really gives us a feel for this person that we mostly know through her fictional characters. We get to see blemishes and contradictions and all.

We also get to see the transition from a woman starring in sit-coms to a two-time divorced woman going through her self-described adolescence in mid-life as she moves to New York to work on Broadway and her transition to a dramatic film actor in some of my favorite films like “Ordinary People” and “Flirting with Disaster”.

This film had me pushing back tears numerous times throughout, it also served as a reminder of how many different lives we get as well get older, its never to late to take risks and make change. I found this film to be incredibly profound and entertaining.

I came out of this film as a more dedicated Mary Tyler Moore fan, and I’m a fan of this film.

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Joshua LaBure is a documentary filmmaker, radio producer and podcaster based out of Omaha, Nebraska. His experience includes having directed and produced several short films, two narrative features and two documentary features, with his works featured at the Lone Star Film Festival, The Bureau of Creative Works and other filmmaker showcases. His most recent documentary had a sold-out premiere and received a standing ovation at the Benson Theatre. Furthermore, he founded the Denver Filmmakers Collective, which hosted local filmmaker showcases, has served on jury for major film festivals and has hosted countless film screenings.
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