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Mark Twain Tonight

Hal Holbrook    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Come meet Mark Twain. OK, true, the humorist has been dead for more years than we care to remember, and not many of us around today were alive to hear what he sounded like. But Hal Holbrook is so spectacular in his one-man performance that you could swear you were listening to Twain himself. The gravelly voice, the lined face, the slow shuffle, and cigar-induced throat clearings seem so natural that you'll have difficulty recognizing Holbrook beneath the white suit, the gray hair, and the handlebar mustache.

Mark Twain Tonight! began as a Broadway show in the 1960s and was filmed as a CBS special in 1967. Yet you'd never know it, because the humor, which is more than a century old, is still laugh-out-loud funny today. Twain--I mean, Holbrook--gives a monologue that is rambling, intelligent, and humorous as he culls together commentary from a variety of Twain sources. From dachshund hounds, politics, and patriotism to cigar smoking, memory loss, and religion, this 90-minute video leaps from subject to subject as we're entertained by material that's as fresh today as it was when it was written in the 1800s. --Jenny Brown

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thirty Years in the Making Nov. 24 1999
Format:VHS Tape
In 1967, I was a twenty-ish high school English teacher who sat down one evening, out of a sense of professional obligation, to watch a TV production of some guy named Hal Holbrook doing a one-man show called MARK TWAIN TONIGHT. It blew me away (though we didn't talk like that in 1967). Ever since, I've had a blank videotape sitting atop my TV, waiting to pirate a copy of the certain re-broadcast, whenever the industry moguls ran out of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND reruns. Of course, it never happened! Instead, I paid cash money for the 33-rpm record, and scratched my way to this or that band for partly appreciative teen English students. As always, the trick to life is to keep living. Today I blew the dust off my 30 year-old videotape and set it aside. My review is thirty years in the making. All you young English teachers, take note: on a scale of one-to-five stars, this performance of Mr. Holbrook is a six. Maybe seven!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hal Holbrook-Mark Twain Tonight April 30 2000
Having seen Hal Holbrook live, in Mark Twain Tonight on two occasions, most recently this past January, I must say I was delighted to aquire the DVD of his 1967 television broadcast performance. My aquaintence with Mr. Holbrooks' Twain goes back to two LPs, recorded in performance in the early 60's, lost, but not forgotten. I have long believed, and this DVD confirms that Mark Twain Tonight is easily one of the greatest treasures of the stage in the last half of the 20th Century. That Mr. Holbrook has performed Mark Twain every year since 1954, in close to 2000 shows, is nothing short of miraculous. But there are twelve hours of material that he draws from. Hopefully, all twelve hours will one day, be available in this format. This 90 minute show brings the wisdom, humor and humanity of one of the most morally brave men of the 19th century to life; and his words are as funny, poignant and relevent going into the 21st century as they were then. I am simply in awe!
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5.0 out of 5 stars An evening with Mark Twain Jan. 25 2000
This DVD welcomes us into Mark Twain's parlor for an evening of stories and anecdotes that the viewer is not likely to soon forget. Hal Holbrook researched this role by looking up old newspaper accounts, letters and film of Twain to get his characterization of Twain as accurate as possible. The illusion is complete. We don't credit Holbrook because he's not there- but Mark Twain is and we are thankful. Holbrook so masterfully weaves Twain's tales together that we don't want him to stop and we want to return to his parlor as often as possible. This DVD is a tribute to two national treasures- Mark Twain and Hal Holbrook. A must for any lover of literature or the stage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain Tonight! Jan. 1 2002
I was introduced to Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain Tonight in a high school English class in 1962 and have been fascinated with Holbrook and his Twain presentation ever since. As the story goes, Holbrook took up cigar smoking to get the timber in his voice, spends three hours in make-up preparing, and has even listened to Edison recording tubes of Twain to get the voice and inflection just right. Sit back and enjoy tales from a hundred years ago that are just as germaine today. You'll soon be convinced that the man in front of you is actually Mark Twain!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Holbrook's Mark Twain Dec 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
If there has ever been a polished performance, this is it! I've been fortunate to see Holbrook do this show live on three occasions. He really catches the essence of Twain's marvellous story- telling, which sets the tone for later artists such as Gene Shepard and Garrison Keillor. Hal Holbrook changed his show at every performance, and this video features him at the peak of his craft. From ghost stories to humorous anecdotes to shaggy dog yarns and tall tales, this video has them all. You'll want to watch it many times.
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By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
To say that Holbrook reads or interprets or plays Mark Twain is an inaccuracy. He becomes Mark Twain, and you experience Twain in a way that spans the time gap and brings back the special feelings of being young and reading about Tom and Huck for the first time. For this hour you are in the presence of Twain, and you are enchanted and enthralled by his presence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars American litewrature must-have! Oct. 20 1999
Format:VHS Tape
This pivotal one-man show was produced on Broadway om 1967 and has been unavailable for ages. Holbrook's finest work (sad to see how much B-grade TV and movie work he's done since) he makes Twain come alive, presenting excerpts from some of the great man's best work. Get two copies of this, because you'll wear one out watching and rewatching it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was many years ago when I first saw this and enjoyed it more this...
It was very gratifying to see Hal doing Mark Twain. It was many years ago when I first saw this and enjoyed it more this time. Thank you for speedy delivery. Read more
Published 24 days ago by john k hinton
5.0 out of 5 stars 90 Minutes of Pure, Clean, Unadulterated FUN
If you love Mark Twain--not just what he wrote, but his personality, his voice, his playful banter, his charm and his sense of humour--then this DVD is something you must have. Read more
Published 4 months ago by AJ Mittendorf
4.0 out of 5 stars Less Content Than Expected
It looks as though I should have oredered the larger package in order to get all of the content included in Holbrook's one man performance. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Joseph Macdonald
5.0 out of 5 stars wry genius returned to life
my only regret about MARK TWAIN TONIGHT is that it's only 90 minutes. holbrook apparently has about 12 hours worth of material that his life shows alternate among. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars growing up with hal holbrook and mark twain
if you have not heard the recordings or saw the television special 'mark twain tonight' starring hal holbrook, you are in for a real treat. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2001 by lloyd davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring Mark Twain to life. Buy this video.
What a great gift for anyone to receive. First, you receive a piece of history. Second, you receive entertainment. This tape never grows old. Read more
Published on Sept. 18 1999
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