While HBO’s Summer Documentary series is now over until next June, HBO is still busy cranking out documentaries. While the documentaries that air in the fall, winter and spring on HBO don’t get the amount of publicity that the summer series does, the quality of the films rarely falters. In fact the best documentary to come from HBO during the last TV season came in the spring with Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington. So it is unsurprising that HBO’s documentary department came out of the summer season firing with Glickman. Glickman is a fascinating look into how one man can change the world of sports and serves as strong competition to ESPN’s heralded 30 for 30 series.
Glickman examines the life of Marty Glickman, one of two Jewish-American athletes at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. After being left out of the 4x100 relay under mysterious circumstances, Glickman came back home to America and worked his way into becoming one of the most influential sports broadcasters in the history of the industry. The documentary is directed by James L. Freedman in his directorial debut.
For such a good documentary, Glickman gets off to a rocky start. As the film recounts every anti-Semitic moment against Marty Glickman, the film gets repetitive and unbearable. Anti-Semitism is a subject matter that deserves more attention than it gets today, but this film seems to blame all of Glickman’s early problems on it.
As such, this documentary takes a while to get going, and it is not until after the Olympics incident where the film finally gets going. The documentary’s portrayal of Glickman’s career as a sports broadcaster is absolutely fascinating. The research and the dedication that is done by James L. Freedman and his crew really shows as this section of the documentary goes incredibly in-depth with its facts. Sure, it looks good when numerous celebrities are saying that Marty Glickman was influential and important, but Freedman makes sure to include as much factual evidence into how and why he was so important.
Freedman also makes sure to make this film visually appealing. The editing is showy enough to make the film interesting but not showy enough to make the editing distracting. The balance between archive footage, photographs and interviews is also perfectly balance. Clearly this is a strong debut for James L. Freedman.
Glickman is another strong documentary from HBO.