Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Director Brigitte Berman's documentary about the legendary founder and creator of Playboy Enterprises Inc. is a fascinating, fresh look at a man many associate as simply the owner of a girlie magazine.
Turns out Hef is all that, and a bag of chips: a really big bag of chips.

Clad in silk pyjamas, surrounded by voluptuous near naked women, he first burst onto the scene in 1953 with probably the most famous issue of Playboy magazine: that contained the insatiably beautiful and naked Marilyn Monroe.

Since then he's built an enormous empire that's withstood the sands of time and a whole lot of other potentially ruinous elements along the way.

Hef, now in his 80s, is still going strong: editing and overseeing final drafts. Some of the footage you'll recognize from the Dorothy Stratten film, Star 80, and there's some awesome archival footage you won't want to miss.

Berman does a great job of capturing the essence of Hefner and delves heavily into his belief of social justice some of which Hefner has documented in the over 2000 scrapbooks he's meticulously created and kept since 1941.

Surprisingly, and relatively speaking, there isn't a lot of nudity in the film which is unusual particularly in this case. Instead, Berman focuses on Hefner the man, the entrepreneur, the social justice activist, the envelope pusher, and it works.

The film is a bit one-sided, focusing on Hef's perspective. It's clearly not that objective: Berman's definitely not out to screwer her subject, and I'm not sure if there'd be much point in doing that anyway given his track record, but what it does focus on is captivating and entertaining.

The film is filled with great music, behind the scenes footage, and previously unseen archival footage that makes it a memorable work of art. It's about time somebody made a movie about Hefner.

Berman's movie is a must see. A fascinating piece of art that's so much more than a film. It's a piece of American history.

Four hearts ♥♥♥♥

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel opens Aug 27. Check your local listings.

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