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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Bert Stern: Original Mad Man'

Dennis King Published: July 16, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Bert Stern: Original Mad Man”

With the popular period drama “Mad Men” playing out its final season on AMC, it’s a timely convergence that an original Madison Avenue maverick is receiving an examination of his colorful life and career in “Bert Stern: Original Mad Man” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

Celebrated as a brilliant photographer, a savvy Madison Avenue innovator and the artist who engineered Marilyn Monroe’s legendary “last sitting,” Stern was one of the most influential figures of the advertising world in the last century.

While photographing the world’s most glamorous women in fashion and show business – including Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss, Elizabeth Taylor and Scarlett Johansson – Stern achieved a glossy celebrity of his own. But it all came crashing down when his substance abuse and serial philandering eventually caught up with him.

This documentary features Stern talking candidly about himself, his triumphs and his failures in a sort of on-camera therapy session with the film’s director, Shannah Laumeister, whom Stern once photographed when she was a teenager. Supposedly, their relationship today is as much personal as it is professional.

In relating his wild life and his outlandish exploits for this film, Stern is not always a likable figure. But, fitting his mad man status and shoot-from-the-lip style, he comes across as a larger-than-life figure who created his own myth, which ultimately proved to be too much for him to live up to.

“Bert Stern: Original Mad Man” is not rated and runs 89 minutes. It’s being released by First Run Features.

- Dennis King



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