Hirschfeld: The Great Entertainers
Curtain up! Light the lights! Hirschfeld: The Great Entertainers (Jasmine Multimedia) showcases the work of the supreme caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. His marvelous line drawings of stars of stage and screen – a staple of The New York Times theater section – are at the center of this disc. It’s fortunate that his work is just as witty on the computer screen as it is on the printed page, because everything else in the program is barely worth a glance. To get in the mood, put on a CD of show tunes (why didn’t the publishers think of that?), because the only music here is over the opening credits, leaving you to scroll through the drawings in absolute silence. There’s some brief video clips of Hirschfeld, a short section of bios of film and stage stars with snippets of film and some photos, and a “Find the Ninas” game that will bore everyone to tears. The greatest offense to this urbane, funny man is the biographical text; the writing is appalling. “The streak of mischief in this artist must have fueled his fire, however” and “while traveling through other cities in America, Europe, and Asia, an art lover could locate more Hirschfelds as well.” Who? Harry, Ben, or Joe? Maybe it’s a take off on S.J. Perelman. If Hirschfeld: Great Entertainers was a play, it would have closed in Philadelphia.
– May 1996