With charming animated sketches and interviews, Daniel Raim’s documentary profiles Harold and Lillian Michelson — a storyboard artist and film researcher.
Harold and Lillian Michelson’s names may not sound familiar, but you’ve most likely seen their work in “West Side Story,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Birds,” among many other films. Harold, the storyboard-artist husband, and Lillian, the film-researcher wife, were a prolific team whose careers are being profiled in Daniel Raim’s documentary “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story.”
Through charming animated sketches and interviews with the couple and some of their friends, such as Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola and Danny DeVito, the documentary reflects on the couple’s work together — often with Lillian’s findings inspiring her husband’s art.
Harold, who died in 2007, climbed the industry ladder as a storyboard artist, eventually becoming an art director and production designer. Not wanting to stay at home, Lillian volunteered at a studio library and became a sought-after film researcher.
‘Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story,’ a documentary written and directed by Daniel Raim. 94 minutes. Not rated. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
Their behind-the-scenes influence on filmmakers was far-reaching. Harold’s storyboards show sketched versions of memorable scenes, like the parting of the Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments” and Anne Bancroft’s raised leg overshadowing Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.” Lillian excitedly recalls interviewing women at Canter’s Deli in Los Angeles about traditional costumes for “Fiddler on the Roof,” and questioning a drug kingpin for “Scarface.”
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The stories are told out of order to make room for personal tangents, including the challenges of raising an autistic son in the 1960s. Like flipping through misplaced leaves in a photo book, the documentary maintains a free-flowing tone as it uncovers the work that went into creating some of the indelible scenes in Hollywood history.