The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story Movie Review

Al Hirschfeld is as much an icon of American entertainment as Walt Disney. His line-art caricatures are legendary, and his body of work would crush your foundation. Hirschfeld died in 2003 at the age of 99, and his legacy is dutifully recorded in this loving documentary, which features long stretches of interviews with the then-93-year-old artist, endless shots of his collected works, and commentary from his contemporaries.

The world knows Hirschfeld from his portraiture, but The Line King reveals a lot more of the man, from his interest in Eastern artistic styles, travels to communist Russia, political cartooning, and more. His impact on the creation of some of Broadway's most classic plays is duly noted, as well. One of the most interesting things in the film -- or that I've heard in my life, really -- involves the fact that the Pentagon uses the hidden "NINAs" (his daughter) in Hirschfeld's drawings to train pilots how to look for camouflaged targets.

For a man working in the traditionally "mean" world of caricature and newspaper cartoons, Hirschfeld reveals himself to be maybe the nicest man on earth. That Santa Claus beard and wizened eyes exude style. Hirschfeld is a class act, and his passing is sorely missed.

The Line King is a fitting legacy to a true Hollywood and Broadway legend. The DVD adds a five minute vignette of Hirschfeld, at 99 years old, working on a portrait of Paul Newman, plus an extensive essay-and-art booklet about the artist's life.

Aka The Line King: Al Hirschfeld.


The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 1986


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