Saturday, January 30, 2010


Original Title: I'm From Hollywood
Year: 1989
Director: Lynne Margulies, Joe Orr
Writer: Lynne Margulies, Joe Orr
Genre: Comedy, Wrestling

Wrestling documentry about comedian Andy Kauffman's break into professional wrestling. Mainly focuses on his feud with Memphis wrestling legend, Jerry "The King" Lawler, and features interviews from his "Taxi" co-stars, announcer Lance Russell, and Robin Williams.

This DVD is exactly what the synopsis here says it is. It was not originally intended to be anything but live appearances by Andy Kaufman at Memphis Wrestling shows. Five years after Kaufman's death, this 60-minute documentary was released with added "interviews" with Tony Danza, Robin Williams, and a few others talking about Kaufman's obsession with professional wrestling and his appearances at this time.

It's hard to really review I'm From Hollywood as a film. Largely what it is made of is TV footage of Kaufman's appearances in Memphis. If you can appreciate Kaufman's style of comedy - that being more about the performance as opposed to telling jokes, then this documentary could be just what you need. It was hard to tell a lot of the time if Andy Kaufman was being serious. And Kaufman was hysterical in his obsession with Memphis, Lawler, and wrestling women from the audience. I don't want to give away anything in regards to Kaufman's antics, but seeing him insult the South, introducing soap to them teaching them how to wash their hands, bragging about Hollywood, and humiliating women all in the name of his game were quite entertaining. He was such a jerk - the audience truly hated him.

This feud and these appearances went on for over a year at Memphis Wrestling shows, Kaufman promising 1000 dollars and to marry any woman who could pin him in the ring. But over 400 women never could best him. Kaufman proclaimed himself the Intergender Champion, complete with a belt. Jerry Lawler, the champion at the time, got involved in a match when Kaufman was embarrassing a female opponent after his victory, and thus the story began. Lawler injured Kaufman (legitimately but not as seriously as was let on) and Kaufman made it his #1 task to ruin Lawler. He would offer other wrestlers money to put Lawler in the hospital, and would even team up with others to try himself.

Anyway, the documentary itself does a good job showing this timeline. I had never actually seen this before despite knowing the story and having seen confrontations between the two. It played out as a pretty cool wrestling storyline. The interviews with Kaufman's friends were kind of funny, but nothing really to write home about.

As an interesting aside, writer/director Lynne Margulies was Andy's long time girlfriend, and they actually met during the filming of the next release I will review, My Breakfast With Blassie.

I really enjoyed I'm From Hollywood a lot. Kaufman was such an asshole, and I really appreciate it as something that could never happen again. This story could only take place at a time when wrestling was still somewhat in the shadows. Now wrestling is known as sports entertainment, the predetermined outcomes and practiced maneuvers are a thing of common knowledge now. But at this time, wrestling was getting ready to blow up in the United States, and many, many fans still took it as fully legitimate. This surely added weight to Kaufman's Hollywood heel role. I would have loved to have experienced this story at a more "naive" time for me.

As a wrestling fan, especially one that has seen some fucking trainwreck celebrity wrestling appearances, I could truly appreciate what Kaufman was doing. My biggest complaint of the film would be the omission of the legendary confrontation on David Letterman between Kaufman and Lawler where Lawler slaps Kaufman out of his chair. I suppose this was because of rights issues with NBC, but I really would have liked to have seen it included.

My score reflects purely my enjoyment of the subject matter as the presentation of the material is pretty straightforward. (I use the term 'straightforward' too much)

Highly recommended for Kaufman and/or professional wrestling fans. (Particularly fans of the Southern style professional wrestling from the 1980s)

Score: 8 / 10

I'm the king!  
I'm the king!
I'm the new king of Memphis, Tennessee!
I knocked that Lawler out last week!
I'm gonna knock him out again, yeah!

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