Toots

Overview

Between 1939 and 1959, Toots Shor ran what was debatably the most famous saloon in America. The son of a poor family in South Philadelphia, Shor was a blustery, larger-than-life character who came to New York City in 1930 and soon landed a job as a bouncer in a mob-run speakeasy. Shor had smarts, charm, and nerve, and he soon made plenty of contacts in the liquor trade as well as befriending habitu├ęs of Manhattan nightlife. In 1939, Shor opened a bar and restaurant, simply named "Toots Shor's," and it didn't take...
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Overview

Between 1939 and 1959, Toots Shor ran what was debatably the most famous saloon in America. The son of a poor family in South Philadelphia, Shor was a blustery, larger-than-life character who came to New York City in 1930 and soon landed a job as a bouncer in a mob-run speakeasy. Shor had smarts, charm, and nerve, and he soon made plenty of contacts in the liquor trade as well as befriending habitu├ęs of Manhattan nightlife. In 1939, Shor opened a bar and restaurant, simply named "Toots Shor's," and it didn't take it long for it to become the Big Apple's most celebrated watering hole, where Broadway stars, sports legends, political bigwigs, and social climbers were frequent customers but anyone with the price of a drink was welcome to belly up to the bar among the regulars: Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Gleason, Frank Gifford, Earl Warren, and Frank Costello. While "Toots Shor's" was one of New York's most legendary nightspots, Shor sold the business in 1959, and while he opened a new bar two years later after running through the million dollars he made from the deal, his style of saloon was falling out of fashion with the arrival of the 1960s, and the free-spending Toots died broke in 1977, six years after his last bar went under. Shor's granddaughter, documentary filmmaker Kristi Jacobson, pays tribute to the man and the era personified by his saloon in Toots, which features interviews with family and friends including Lauren Bacall, Walter Cronkite, Yogi Berra, Pete Hamill, Mike Wallace, and Whitey Ford as well as rare recordings of Toots telling his own remarkable story. Also known as Toots Shor: Bigger Than Life, Toots received its world premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival -- appropriately enough, in downtown New York.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Toots is a loving chronicle of New York restaurateur Toots Shor's colorful life and a warm recollection of his club's heyday as a focal point of boozy 1950s Manhattan. Director Kristi Jacobson comes from a strong television background and it shows in the use of well-worn, if nonetheless expertly employed, documentary techniques of shows like A&E's Biography. She is also Shor's granddaughter, and her familial connections result in a trove of material including archival photographs and film footage, outstanding interviews, and eight hours of audio interview taped shortly before Shor's death, where he details his life story, and which forms the base of the film. Shor's rise is depicted as an ironic American success story, hard-working immigrant boy makes good with more than a little help from the Mafia. The documentary is at its best when Shor's skills at creating an upscale but relaxed bonhomie and stage-managing talent gelled with postwar exuberance and his saloon attracted the greats of politics, entertainment, and sports. It was a macho world and the highlights are really just larger-than-life drinking stories; one can practically smell the Lucky Strikes and taste the Scotch. Waiters and bus boys recall drinking contests with Shor's close friend Jackie Gleason; admirers gush at the endless parade of legends from Frank Sinatra to Joe DiMaggio; and journalists recall running back and forth between their typewriter and the bar for revitalizing drinks. To tell these stories, Jacobson has assembled a stupendous collection of interviewees who lived the life, including Gay Talese, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mike Wallace, and Frank Gifford. Shor's life reached an ignominious end; he died broke and disappointed, having sold his name to a chain restaurant for 1,500 dollars. But the documentary, while illuminating the occasional hurt behind his smiling facade, doesn't revel in his downfall, rather always turning on his remarkable ability to celebrate and appreciate life's pleasures.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/13/2009
  • UPC: 845637000418
  • Original Release: 2006
  • Rating:

  • Source: Indiepix
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Frank Gifford Participant
Walter Cronkite Participant
Kerry Jacobson Participant, Participant
Mike Wallace Participant
Gay Talese Participant
Sidney Zion Participant, Participant
Yogi Berra Participant, Participant
Bill Fugazy Participant, Participant
Peter Duchin Participant
Pete Hamill Participant, Participant
Bill Buchbinder Participant, Participant
Leroy Neiman Participant, Participant
David Brown Participant
Bert Randolph Sugar Participant, Participant
John Clancy Participant, Participant
Pat Futcher Participant,
Whitey Ford Participant, Participant
Bill Gallo Participant,
Maury Allen Participant,
Joe Garagiola Participant
Dave Anderson Participant,
Harry Lavin Participant,
Larry Merchant Participant, Participant
Perian Conerly Participant, Participant
Charles Nelson Reilly Participant, Participant
Dick Sherman Participant, Participant
Liz Murray Participant, Participant
Nicholas Pileggi Participant
Gianni Russo Participant
Technical Credits
Kristi Jacobson Director, Producer
Tom Brokaw Consultant/advisor
Whitney Dow Producer
Lewis Erskine Editor
Penelope Falk Editor
Daniel B. Gold Cinematographer
Florence Holdeman Associate Producer
James P. MacGilvray Executive Producer
Alan Mattone Executive Producer
Peter Miller Sound/Sound Designer
Alicia Sams Producer
Mark Suozzo Score Composer
J.T. Takagi Sound/Sound Designer
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