We also see a still visibly shattered Robert Kennedy sitting down to talk to Paar a month after his brother’s assassination. The young attorney general had approached his friend about making the appearance, feeling the need to begin reconnecting with the public. It’s a humbling sight to see the two men grappling with their own and the country’s need to heal from the recent trauma.
New interviews are intercut throughout: a still-youthful and handsome Paar, and several of the key people who worked with him. Of these interview subjects, Hugh Downs, who co-hosted Paar’s show, offers particularly incisive commentary on Paar’s gifts to television and on the sorry state of TV reportage today. One thing Paar’s colleagues agree on is that there was no line between the man and the performer, which is evident not only in his famous, emotional on-air exit from his show, but in the relaxed, eloquent and personal monologues he delivered nightly.
Sound and visual quality of clips is fine, and overall tech values are OK, although the tightly framed talking-heads segs could use a bit more ambience. Docu’s chief flaw is its consistent failure to date archival excerpts. Nonetheless, filmmakers Michael Macari Jr. and Bruce Colgate offer a compelling compilation of material that makes a solid case for Paar’s place in the TV pantheon, as well as providing a provocative cross-section of contempo pop history.