DVD Review : Andy Kaufman's Gone Wrestling!
It has been 25 years since the passing of comedy legend Andy Kaufman, but to this day some question whether or not he faked his own death.
While some have refused to accept this unfortunate fact, it was at the far too early age of 35 that Kaufman passed away following a battle with lung cancer.
One of his dying wishes was for friend and film director Lynne Margulies to complete and release the "I’m From Hollywood" documentary that chronicled his time in the wrestling world, feuding with women from across the world as well as WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler.
Kaufman was proud of his time in the wrestling world and according to Margulies, he considered it one of his greatest accomplishments in his career.
Now more than two decades later both of Kaufman’s wrestling classic films are being released on DVD, completely uncut, and packed with bonus features.
It all begins with "My Breakfast with Blassie," originally released in 1983. The one hour film sees Kaufman hop a Hollywood bus en route to a rendezvous with the one and only “King of Men” Freddie Blassie.
The two sit down for breakfast in a real life restaurant and discuss life in what is often described as a classic piece of performance art.
The footage which was shot over a quarter century ago does show some signs of aging but holds up well enough to be featured on DVD, while the audio is still well intact.
The driving force behind this DVD is the strength of its bonus features. For My Breakfast with Blassie, we begin with lost and deleted footage from the film.
Director Johnny Legend introduces the 50-plus minutes of footage, which includes alternate takes, outtakes, and raw footage of the shoot.
You get to see actual interaction between Kaufman and the crew, and you get a feel for just how much Kaufman cared about the film.
This is followed up by a feature called “Blassie Graffiti“, It begins with some classic 1960’s black and white footage of Blassie from something called Wrestling Workouts. A interview and short match is shown, which is then followed by director Johnny Legend introducing the footage of Blassie’s match with Ricky Dozan where he lost the world title.
Legend then introduces highlights of the Blassie Cage match with Jon Voulis from Los Angeles. The featurette completes with footage of Freddie Blassie shortly before his death, he is at a independent wrestling show, mid ring, singing his infamous pencil neck geek theme song.
A featurette on the director Johnny Legend is next which begins with an appearance on the Art Reiner TV show talking about his relationhip with Andy Kaufman.
This is followed by some 1960’s footage of Freddie Blassie hanging out on the beach with some wrestling friends and Johnny Legend.
This featurette wraps up with a look in at Legend’s wrestling career as a manager as he lays down a challenge live on the Jon Stewart show, and highlights of the resulting match is then shown.
The plentiful extras continue on with footage from the film’s Hollywood premiere, a photo gallery, and as if that wasn’t enough, it wraps up with a half-hour discussion between co creators Johnny Legend and Linda Lautrec which was filmed shortly before the release of the Man on the Moon film. The pair discuss the making of the Breakfast with Blassie.
Moving onto Disc 2, Lynne Margulies who is the writer and director of Im From Hollywood provides an introduction to the documentary explaining how the video came about, why Kaufman wanted to make it, and just how much it meant to him.
Celebrities getting involved in wrestling has been seen numerous times over the years but none that I recall got to the level than that of Andy Kaufman.
The feud he had with Jerry Lawler came at a time where kayfabe was still alive and well, people thought it was real.
This documentary gives you some prime examples of that as news footage reporting he had been sent to the hospital as a result of a Lawler’s piledriver leads it off and the next hour not only chronicles a legendary feud but also a remarkable career that Kaufman led.
Andy wasn’t politically correct nor did he care to be, his challenges and insults toward women pushed the limits at a time where the idea of being politically correct was only starting to be accepted.
Jerry Lawler would eventually poke his nose into Kaufman’s business defending the women Lawler was insulting and assaulting, and this would lead to the feud between the big Hollywood star and the Memphis wrestling legend.
It’s wrestling gold from there on, and in my opinion something every wrestling fan should see. Much like breakfast with Blassie the video footage shows its age at times but the audio is still clear.
There is also a plethora of DVD Extras for I'm From Hollywood. A feature length commentary from the Margulies kicks it off. Margulies, who acquired much of Kaufman’s possessions following his passing, is also able to offer up some very intriguing pieces for the rest of the extras, including scans of actual letters and photos Kaufman received during his open challenge to women from across the country.
Also two full length matchups between Lawler and Kaufman with boxing stipulations are offered both with original audio and alternate commentary.
We then wrap up with a 35 minute Q & A session with Jerry Lawler and Lynne Margulies following a screening of I'm from Hollywood at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian theater on Nov. 6, 2007.
It is moderated by See No Evil writer Dan Madigan. Lawler gives a lot of insight into exactly how the feud came about and how and why Vince McMahon turned it down at the time.
For the wealth of extras alone this DVD is well worth the $24.98 suggested price tag. Add to that the chance to put these Kaufman classics into your wrestling DVD collection allowing you to relive them time and time again, to me it makes this DVD an absolute must buy. Thank you very much! (for reading)
Andy Kaufman’s My Breakfast with Blassie / I'm From Hollywood Special Commemorative Edition will be available on DVD on May 12.
For more information check out www.videoservicecorp.com or pre order your copy from Amazon, Highspots or wherever you buy your wrestling DVD’s. Also to read my previous DVD reviews, head on over to www.wrestlingdvdreview.com
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