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Winchell [DVD]

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Biographical drama about Walter Winchell (Stanley Tucci), a 1950s gossip columnist and radio show announcer who wrote in a very unorthodox style, but grabbed the public's attention with his dirt on public figures. However, Winchell lived a far from clean life himself - he lived out of a hotel room away from his family where he lived with a prostitute called Dalls Wayne (Glenne Headly) who was seeking to make her break in show business.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Great Portrayal Of A Complex Man 28 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Recently while accepting his Emmy award for this film, Stanley Tucci sheepishly told the audience "This is a mistake". Well, wrong, Stanley, because you were absolutely fantastic portraying Walter Winchell, king of the gossip columnists for many decades. Luckily last year when it was on HBO I taped it, & I've watched it 3 times since then, it's that good! Highly recommended, and if you've not yet seen Stanley Tucci's work, this is a great way to get started. Highly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A riveting story of one of the most unforgettable characters 15 Oct. 1999
By "otnick" - Published on
Stanley Tucci's portrayal of Walter Winchell is nothing short of brillant. It's no small wonder why he won an Emmy for this movie. The story and natural flow of Winchell's life, spanning over sixty years, was both eye-opening and gripping. The clothes, sets, and supporting actors all added to this interesting and factual story, and one not to be missed and enjoyed.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Stanley Tucci's Emmy winning turn for HBO as the journalist Walter Winchell 15 Sept. 2006
By Lawrance Bernabo - Published on
Format: DVD
Stanley Tucci won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in 1999 for "Winchell," which is a testament to his skills as an actor because in this HBO movie he has to play Walter Winchell. The problem is when the biopic gets to the point in Winchell's career when he went on the radio and did the "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. North America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press" bit. His high speed staccato delivery (clocked at an average of 197 words per minute), is ripe for caricature, and the way Tucci and screenwriter Scott Abbott ("Introducing Dorothy Dandridge") play it and write it Winchell on the radio is not the way he normally talks because he is so uptight about being on the radio that as soon as the broadcast is over he always runs to the men's room to be sick. Consequently, Tucci is able to refrain from having to talk like that for the entire movie (you might remember Winchell as the narrator of "The Untouchables" television series).

Walter Winchell is remembered for inventing the gossip column when he was working at the "New York Evening Graphic," and for being the first to expose the private lives of public figures in print. To a large extent, when we talk about the "cult of celebrity" that exists in the U.S. today, it is Winchell who deserves credit for creating the downside of being famous. Ironically, Winchell was living in a glass house in that regard, which this television movie touches on as well. But basically the story here is about his steady rise, his glory years, and then his sharp decline during the McCarthy period. At one point most people in this country were listening to Winchell's radio broadcasts, and yet the man ended up basically dying alone.

Winchell's redemption in director Paul Mazursky's movie comes from his relentless attacks on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany at a time when the likes of William Randolph Hearst (Kevin Tighe) are praising the fuehrer. But no less a personage than President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Christopher Plummer) has alerted Winchell to the fact that the face of fear is coming and once Winchell identifies Hitler as that face, he goes after him. Even though Hearst keeps cutting references to Hitler out of Winchell's columns and Nazi thugs beat him up, Winchell keeps telling it like it is. Now, whether or not this is enough to make up for spending most of his time on gossip or for treating his staff, including his number one ghostwriter Herman Klurfeld (Paul Giamatti, who now has the same sort of respect as an actor as Tucci). Klurfeld is the nameless hero here, because Winchell has kept him nameless, but Mazursky has given him a face.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
King of gossip . . . 1 Mar. 2007
By Ronald Scheer - Published on
Format: DVD
True, I have a long list of favorite actors, but Stanley Tucci is definitely on it, and he is wonderful to watch in this HBO film as the driven and bellicose inventor of gossip-journalism. The script for this bio-pic moves along at a swift pace, following Winchell from his youth to his death, charting a meteoric rise to fame that brought him the personal attention of FDR (Christopher Plummer) and the animosity of his employer, William Randolph Hearst. The front man for a team of snoops and writers (chief of which is played with considerable sympathy by Paul Giamatti), he is admirable only in his ability to intimidate those who stood in the way of what came to be a gigantically inflated sense of self-importance. Wrapping himself in the flag and mouthing platitudes about democracy, he makes of himself a self-styled champion of the American people, while in his personal life he is a tyrant and a prickly manipulator of others, both great and small.

The film is especially interesting in its recreation of a time when a radio personality could dominate public opinion with a mixture of bellicose, rapid-fire vituperating and political bias (the forerunner of the Rush Limbaughs of today), then losing his grip with the introduction of television, where a smoother, cooler type (represented here by Ed Sullivan) takes center stage. Interesting, too, that today in an age where gossip dominates the news and channels of public information, this story from more than a half century ago seems so current and undated. Definitely an enjoyable and thought-provoking film. The writing, the performances, and the direction by veteran Paul Mazursky make this a fast-paced and absorbing story of the rise and decline of a self-made media personality.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Winchell 19 Aug. 2007
By Lynette Wells - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great movie, enjoyed every minute. I can remember when I was young and Walter Winchell was the narrator on "The Untouchables" on TV. (1950s). Very interesting to see what he was really like. The Movie was very realistic with costumes, background, speech etc., very well done.
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