Two time Academy Award winning director Milos Forman began his filmmaking career in his native Czechoslovakia, where he was an influential figure in the Czech New Wave movement. But it was not until Forman immigrated to the U.S. that he achieved his greatest success. His Hollywood triumphs include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Hair, Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon. Actors that recall their experiences working with Forman include Annette Bening, Jim Carrey, Micheal Douglas, Woody Harrelson, Buck Henry and Treat Williams.
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This edition of The Directors series is one of the best, not only because Milos Forman is an engaging raconteur, but because the number of films he made between 1965 and 2000 is well matched to the one-hour format of this series. Almost every film--from his Czech debut Loves of a Blonde to Man on the Moon--is given fair screen time in a broad survey. This overview is further enhanced by delightful interview clips with Forman, whose boyish charm is infectiously upbeat (and admirable, considering he lost his parents to the Nazi concentration camps). As one of the few filmmakers in the series who isn't American by birth, Forman also has a different perspective on America and his success in the Hollywood system, beginning with 1975's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. That Oscar winner established many of the themes that dominate Forman's work, and his lively anecdotes compensate for star Jack Nicholson's absence as an interviewee. Equally memorable is Forman's recollection of working with James Cagney on Ragtime (the great actor's final feature film), and receiving a cherished memento while visiting Cagney's home. Among the program's other interviewees, Amadeus Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham recalls Forman's direction to play the composer Salieri as Abraham had previously played Cyrano and Iago--an equal blend of "romance and manipulation." That kind of simple, eloquent guidance is a trademark for Forman, who humorously notes that "I knew I'd made it" when his name appeared as an answer in the New York Times crossword puzzle. --Jeff Shannon
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