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The latest in a spate of docus about design (“Helvetica,” “Art and Copy,” “Objectified”), Wendy Keys’ “Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight” celebrates arguably the most influential and charismatic figure in the field. Glaser invented the “I heart New York” logo, revolutionized supermarket layout, co-founded and edited New York Magazine, and fashioned iconic posters and album covers pictorially defining every era since the ’50s. Docu splendidly focuses on the artist but gives shorter shrift to the art itself. Nevertheless, Glaser shines as the quintessential wise, witty Gothamite and Keys’ glowing portrait, bowing May 22 at NYC’s Cinema Village, should score on PBS or cable.

Perversely, though docu maps every line and hair on Glaser’s face in minute detail as he animatedly discusses projects, his work passes by like an impatiently sped-through slide show. Keys, a Film Society of Lincoln Center mainstay, relies heavily on casually conversational talking heads to convey Glaser’s essence and the unique scope of his vision, rarely deploying extrinsic visual tools to approach the oeuvre, as Marion Cajori did in her studies of Chuck Close’s and Louise Bourgeois’ work or as Gary Hustwit did for the humble potato peeler in “Objectified.”

— Ronnie Scheib

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

  • Production: An Arthouse Films release. Produced by Wendy Keys. Executive producer, Edgar B. Howard. Directed by Wendy Keys.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), David W. Leitner; editor, Tom Piper; music, Hayes Greenfield. Reviewed on DVD, New York, May 15, 2009. Running time: 73 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Milton Glaser, Ralph Caplan, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Steve Heller, Walter Bernard, Wendy Keys, Jivan Tabibian, Deborah Adler, Walter Bernard, George Lang.
  • Music By: