Hollywood is known for failed marriages, unfortunately. As difficult as it seems to find a life partner among the glitz and glamour, a handful of people succeed. Enter Harold and Lillian Michelson, two Hollywood heavy-hitters who beat the odds and found true love when most others around them couldn’t. The documentary, “Harold and Lillian,” is a fascinating look at a heartwarming couple who made their mark on hundreds of award-winning films throughout the decades.
Harold and Lillian met in Miami Beach in 1945, both coming from very different backgrounds; Harold was raised in a Jewish household and spent time as a pilot in World War 2 (a commanding officer saw a picture Harold drew of a church and suggested after the war he pursue a career as an artist). Lillian spent her youth moving from one orphanage to another, never having a real family of her own. After an impromptu marriage proposal by Harold, he moved out to Los Angeles to find work as an artist and find a home for him and Lillian so she could join. Harold found work at various movie studios as a storyboard artist throughout the first few years, but his big break came when he worked alongside Alfred Hitchcock on The Birds. It was first time a big Hollywood director such as Hitchcock asked specifically for Harold. During this time, Lillian got heavily involved in the world of film research, quickly establishing herself as the go-to researcher in Hollywood. Harold and Lillian together became a Hollywood power couple; they fed off each other’s creativity and gave each other unlimited love and support. Although the roles of storyboard artist and film researcher largely go uncredited, Harold and Lillian played a vital role in the production of so many films the world grew to love over the last six decades.
Harold and Lillian is wonderfully pieced together using illustrations, old footage and the narration of love letters they wrote each other over the years they were together. Interviews with directors such as Danny DeVito and Mel Brooks paint a picture of two people that were as passionate about each other as they were about their work. As an audience member, you can’t help but feel hopeful for relationships and love after watching these two. They have such an impressive filmography between the two of them that it’s a mystery why neither one has received more acclaim. The role of storyboard artist and film researcher are ones that rarely get discussed, but are fascinating to learn about. Harold and Lillian can be appreciated by both younger and older audiences; a heartwarming and fascinating look into a one of a kind Hollywood romance for the ages.
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